5 Must-Have Traits for Every Lineman

Thousands of men and women risk their lives every day by working as electrical linemen, but the job isn’t for everyone. Do you think you have what it takes?


1. You Must Be Mentally and Physically Strong

To be a lineman, you must have incredible physical and mental strength. Working on the line means hauling gear, pulling thick cable and wire, and not minding having to work long hours day or night. Every day is different, from challenging jobsites to working in all types of extreme weather. And working with high-voltage lines leaves you absolutely no room for error. Mistakes from fatigue can be life-threatening in this job.

2. You Cannot Be Afraid of Heights

Linemen must be able to climb. And climb. And climb. In fact, if you’re not totally comfortable working 100 feet in the air, start thinking about a different career. As a lineman, you’ll be sky-high for hours every day, but if you are someone who enjoys scenic views at work, this might be the job for you.

3. You Must Like Living Life on the Edge

Lineman work is recognized within the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S., with more than 19 workers in every 100,000 killed on the job every year. Linemen work hundreds of feet above the ground installing and repairing electrical lines and are often the first people called in natural disasters, severe weather and times of crisis. So, while safety training is a major part of the job, you have to recognize and respect the everyday risks that these men and women face.

4. You Must Be Willing to Commit Yourself to the Career

Everything that comes with being a lineman makes it more than a career; it’s a lifestyle. Linemen put their mark on the world one electric pole at a time, so it requires a certain amount of pride to ensure each project lives up to their personal expectations of excellence. One bad day or one faulty pole can ruin a whole town’s day – or someone's life. So, it’s critical for linemen to be able to dedicate the time and energy needed to do the job right. Linemen's families have to commit to the career choice, as well, because those long hours can take a toll. Emergencies and severe weather can call linemen into work unexpectedly, and they don't come home until the job's done. When everyone is committed to the same purpose, they can trust that their familes at home and their brothers and sisters in the field have one another’s backs. Then they can be fully committed to the career, to safety for their communities and to their own safety in the field.

5. You Must Be a Hands-On Learner

Working on high-voltage lines doesn't require a Ph.D., but that doesn’t mean you can become a lineman overnight. The first step is getting hired as an apprentice, which means going through at least four years of education and training before becoming a journeyman lineman. You must be willing to put the work in because your apprenticeship will not be in the classroom – you’ll constantly be out in the field working with different crews and learning the essential skills for the job. Many aspiring linemen find out that they don't have what it takes, with the dropout rate at about 65 percent, according to a senior training specialist at a local linemen school.

With all the hard work and effort it takes to be a lineman, we would like to thank all the men and women working the lines out there. To show our appreciation, Klein Tools has donated to three non-profit organizations that support fallen linemen and their families, ahead of National Lineman Appreciation Day on April 18. The company has also created Limited Edition Fallen Lineman Tribute Pliers, available exclusively through utility distributors.