What Is A Lineman?

So, you want an answer to the age-old question, “what is a lineman?” (Not sure it’s actually an age-old question, but the answer is this….) someone who works on power lines. 

Alright that’s the end of the blog. 

Okay, I’m kidding, there’s more to it than that. There are two main types of linemen. You may hear about more than two, like underground or telecom, but we’ll cover the most popular ones, which are transmission and distribution. Now to become a lineman one must go through an apprenticeship, and once they make lineman, they’ll have specific duties. To flesh out “what is a lineman,” and what these two types do, we must look at how the power grid works, because not all jobs in line work are the same. 

To start, power is created at power plants and sent all over through giant power lines called transmission lines. Transmission lines are extremely high voltage and are worked on by, you guessed it, transmission linemen. The lines themselves are long and are typically attached to tall metal towers. 

The job of a transmission lineman, is to build, repair, and replace transmission power lines and the towers or poles that hold them. They do this job by hanging from helicopters, being attached to the towers with safety equipment, using bucket trucks with very long booms, and/or climbing the structures themselves. 

The transmission lines then deliver the power to substations. Substations then take that power at really high voltage, convert it down to a lower high voltage, and then send it out all over an area through distribution power lines. Distribution lines are the lines that power houses, churches, schools, stores, etc. These lines are typically seen from the tops of wooden poles, or they’re not seen at all as they run under the ground through underground power. They are worked on by distribution linemen. (Earlier I mentioned underground linemen, and they’ll obviously do underground work. Just note that distribution crews can do underground line work, but underground linemen just do underground.) 

Distribution linemen build, repair, service, and/or replace distribution power lines. You’ll also see them doing tasks like connecting power to a house, installing transformers, or installing new poles.  The thing to note about these linemen is that they do their job through a wide degree of methods. Sometimes they climb poles to work, sometimes they use bucket trucks, and other times they may be working on the ground using digging equipment to clear out pole holes or in some cases to install underground power.

All in all, I think you get the idea, linemen are important. Just know that without linemen we’d have no hot showers, no air conditioning, no refrigerators, and no “Family Feud” reruns. Without them it’d be a dark place to live.

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