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Telecommunications Lineworker


Description

Telecommunications lineworkers install, repair and maintain telecommunication lines and cables. Next time you check your e-mail or make a phone call, consider that a lineworker helped install the wiring that enables you to communicate and connect with others. Without these technical geniuses, there would be no telecommunication world.

Telecommunications lineworkers maintain the network of wires and cables that carry electrical, telephone and fiber optic connections between suppliers and buildings. They erect poles and towers and connect wires and cables to the proper lines. Their job also requires digging trenches to get to underground cables. If you are afraid of heights, then this career is certainly not for you. Telecommunications lineworkers climb poles and use truck-mounted buckets to attach cables and wiring to the proper places.

Another aspect of their job may be installing wiring from a main cable to a house or business. For example, if an individual customer has a problem with their telephone, Internet or other electrical telecommunications service, it is up to the lineworker to make the house call and solve the problem.

Otherwise, they are the professionals who respond to emergencies and power outages. Severe weather and wind conditions may knock down poles or car accidents may also crack or damage poles. Telecommunications lineworkers must rush to the scene to make emergency repairs. Sometimes this is in the middle of a storm or blizzard, which can be very difficult, however it is their job to maintain telecommunications amongst users.

Telecommunications lineworkers usually work with at least one other partner or as a member of a crew. For example, in a team situation, telecommunications lineworkers might work with one crew member on top of a pole and one on the ground. Communication in this situation is crucial, especially when the workers are dealing with live, often damaged, electrical wires.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$21,445
 
Median Salary:
$39,645
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$57,616

  Interests and Skills  
Telecommunications lineworkers must have good physical co-ordination and manual dexterity, and a mechanical ability. They need good hearing and vision, and feel comfortable working at heights and in varying, extreme climates. They need to be able to work as a team member and adapt to changing tasks and locations. This type of work is most rewarding for those who enjoy working outdoors in all weather conditions and developing specialized skills at varying and challenging tasks.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Install, remove, maintain and repair aerial and underground telephone and other telecommunication transmission and distribution lines, cables and associated hardware
  • Install (but do not repair or maintain) cable television lines and cables
  • Splice and repair various types and sizes of telephone and other telecommunication cables including single line, coaxial and fiber optic
  • Inspect and test telecommunication transmission lines and cables for transmission characteristics and to locate faults
  • Analyze and record test results
  • Climb and work aloft on poles, ladders or other support structures or work in confined spaces such as trenches, tunnels and crawl spaces
  • Communicate with other workers to co-ordinate the preparation and completion of work assignments
  • Assist in the erection and removal of telecommunication poles, towers and associated support structures
  • Telecommunications lineworkers work outdoors at various sites, in all kinds of weather conditions. Travelling is often part of the work day. Their work may be strenuous, and requires frequent heavy lifting, carrying and reaching. Getting to certain lines requires climbing poles or towers, working from a bucket attached to an aerial lift boom, and entering manholes and underground vaults. There is some risk of injury from falls and electrical shocks therefore they must be trained in safe work practices and procedures. Shift work may be required, although a 40-hour work week is the standard. In emergency situations, telecommunications lineworkers may be called in to work at any hour and in any weather.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Telecommunications lineworkers are employed by cable television companies, electric power companies and by telephone and other telecommunications services. Some work for construction companies specializing in power line, telephone and cable television construction.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Experienced telecommunications lineworkers may advance to foreman and line supervisor positions. They also can transfer their skills to related occupations such as trainer, power system electrician, health and safety officer or control room operator in a utility company.
 

  Educational Paths  
Telecommunications lineworkers receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all states to become a telecommunications lineworker, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training with classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary fromstate to state, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position however wages are about 50% less of what an employer pays the Journeyperson, with yearly increases.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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