Overhead line worker

Overhead line workers


Overhead line workers construct and maintain power supply and control cables in overhead power lines. They also make and repair electrical cables connecting customers to the electricity network.

The duties of an overhead line worker include, but are not limited to:

  • Installing transmission and distribution lines between power plants and individual buildings or homes.
  • Reading and interpreting electrical wiring diagrams.
  • Digging trenches or climbing poles to repair or maintain underground and overhead electrical cables.
  • Installing electricity meters at residential homes and buildings.
  • Performing inspections to prevent power outages by replacing or repairing components.
  • Clearing away tree branches or other hazards near live power installations.
  • Troubleshooting power outages and problems with electrical lines and wires.
  • Attending to call-outs and performing repairs in an efficient and timely manner.
  • Reporting progress, complications, concerns, and delays to the supervisor.
  • Adhering to safety standards at all times, as well as complying with company and industry regulations.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to overhead line worker:

overhead lineworker
overhead transmission and distribution linesman
low voltage lineworker
high voltage lineworker
overhead linesman
overhead line engineer
overhead line technician
overhead transmission and distribution linesperson
overhead power line worker
overhead linesworker

Minimum qualifications

High school diploma is generally required to work as overhead line worker. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Overhead line worker is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Overhead line worker career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to overhead line worker.

cable jointer
electricity distribution worker
street lighting electrician
wind turbine technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of overhead line worker. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of overhead line worker with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

electrical power distributor
electrical transmission system operator
power lines supervisor
hydroelectric plant operator
geothermal power plant operator

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of overhead line worker.

  • Transmission towers: Types of tall structures which are used in the transmission and distribution of electrical energy, and which support overhead power lines, such as high voltage AC and high voltage DC transmission towers. The different types of tower designs and materials used for its construction, and the types of currents.
  • Electrical discharge: The qualities and applications of electrical discharge, including voltage and electrodes.
  • Electric current: Flow of electric charge, carried by electrons or ions in a medium such as an electrolyte or a plasma.
  • Electrical power safety regulations: The compliance with safety measures which need to be taken during the installation, operation, and maintenance of constructions and equipment which function in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical power, such as the appropriate safety gear, equipment handling procedures, and preventive actions.
  • Electricity: Understand the principles of electricity and electrical power circuits, as well as the associated risks.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of overhead line worker.

  • Install power lines: Install cables and networks for electricity distribution on the street, in the fields and in buildings, and put them into operation.
  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Inspect overhead power lines: Inspect the structures used in the transmission and distribution of electrical energy, such as the conductors, towers, and poles, to identify damage and need for repairs, and ensure routine maintenance is performed.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear: Wear relevant and necessary protective gear, such as protective goggles or other eye protection, hard hats, safety gloves.
  • Inspect underground power cables: Inspect the underground power cables during installation or repair activities in order to identify faults and assess the extent of damage or need for repairs, and to ensure they are correctly installed and maintained.
  • Repair underground power cables: Identify damage and perform the required repairs, as well as perform routine maintenance, to underground power cables used in the transmission and distribution of electrical energy.
  • Repair overhead power lines: Identify damage and perform the required repairs, as well as perform routine maintenance, to overhead power lines and transmission towers used in the transmission and distribution of electrical energy.
  • Follow safety procedures when working at heights: Take necessary precautions and follow a set of measures that assess, prevent and tackle risks when working at a high distance from the ground. Prevent endangering people working under these structures and avoid falls from ladders, mobile scaffolding, fixed working bridges, single person lifts etc. since they may cause fatalities or major injuries.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of overhead line worker. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Electricity consumption: The different factors which are involved in the calculation and estimation of electricity consumption in a residence or facility, and methods in which electricity consumption can be lowered or made more efficient.
  • Power engineering: Subdiscipline of energy and electrical engineering which specialises in the generation, transmission, distribution, and usage of electrical power through the connection of electrical devices to motors, generators, and transformers, such as an AC-DC power adapter.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of overhead line worker. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Ensure safety in electrical power operations: Monitor and control operations on an electrical power transmission and distribution system in order to ensure that major risks are controlled and prevented, such as electrocution risks, damage to property and equipment, and instability of transmission or distribution.
  • Transport construction supplies: Bring construction materials, tools and equipment to the construction site and store them properly taking various aspects into account such as the workers’ safety and protection from deterioration.
  • Inspect construction supplies: Check construction supplies for damage, moisture, loss or other problems before using the material.
  • Calculate needs for construction supplies: Take measurements on site and estimate the amount of materials required for the construction or restoration project.
  • Respond to electrical power contingencies: Set in motion the strategies created for responding to emergency situations, as well as respond to unforeseen problems, in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical power, such as power outages, in order to rapidly solve the problem and return to normal operations.
  • Ensure compliance with electricity distribution schedule: Monitor the operations of an electrical energy distribution facility and electricity distribution systems in order to ensure that the distribution goals and the electricity supply demands are met.
  • Assess areas for power line installation: Assess areas in order to identify whether it would be suitable for the installation of underground or overhead power lines and cables, and to assess the energy needs of the area and how it could be better connected to the grid.

ISCO group and title

7413 – Electrical line installers and repairers

  1. Overhead line worker – ESCO
  2. Journeyman Lineman Job Description – Betterteam
  3. Featured image: By Cschirp (talk) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Last updated on October 11, 2022

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