TTL 043 Should You Go To Lineman School?

Good evening, brother lineman. With my YouTube channel and my podcast, I get people contacting me all the time. I’ve got people that email me. I have people that contact me on Instagram. I get questions about working on a crew. I get questions on, am I too old to start? I get questions on how do I get a job working as a lineman? But the number one question I get, probably 80% of all the questions I get are on this subject and that question is, should I go to lineman school?

Now, today, I’m going to give you my opinion on what I would do if I was starting out again. But before we get into my opinion, maybe you’re just learning about being a lineman and you really don’t know what they do in lineman school.

So a lineman school is like any other trade school where you learn the basics. You learn what linemen do on a daily basis. You learn the culture, you learn our safety procedures. And lineman schools today, come in all different shapes and sizes. Most technical colleges have some type of lineman program. You stay at home, you drive in every day and go to class just like you would, if you took any other course at a tech school.

Then there are the standalone lineman schools. Many of them are very large. They got big training yards. They’ve got dorms for students. They got highly qualified linemen teaching the classes. In any of these lineman schools, you’re going to have to learn how to climb poles. You’re going to learn some of the procedures that lineman use every single day when they’re out there working. And you’re going to be able to find out firsthand what it’s like to be a lineman.

Now, the big question. Should I go to lineman school? Now, if you didn’t know, being a lineman has gone kind of mainstream. Gone are the days back when I first started, where no experience. You go down to your local utility company, put in your application and sit back and wait for the call. If you do that today, I’ll almost guarantee you, you will not be getting a call. There’s just too much competition today. Everyone wants to be a lineman.

My opinion’s changed in the last 10 years. I used to think lineman schools were somewhat of a joke but the more I’ve seen guys who’ve graduated and what they’re all about, it kind of changed my mind. I’d recommend to anyone today who asks me, should they go to lineman school, I always tell them they need to go.

Now, here are a couple of reasons why I feel like lineman school can help you. The biggest reason to go is you’re going to find out very quickly if you’re cut out for this job. Typically the climbing part of being a lineman is where the rubber meets the road. If you get into lineman school and you found out you’re afraid of heights or climbing and working off a pole is too strenuous for you, you’re going to have a rough time becoming a lineman.

If you don’t wake up every day at school and love the butterflies you get when it’s time to climb poles, you love the comradery, love looking down from the top of your office, at the top of that pole you’re on, love the feeling of getting the job done, if you don’t have these feelings, when you’re at lineman school, you might be in the wrong trade.

I’ve heard figures of 10 to 30% of people who start lineman school, they never finish. It’s better to find out early in this trade if it’s not for you before you get an actual job and end up getting let go, because you don’t like it. There’s no shame in finding out you don’t like the job. As I have talked about many times before, this job is not for everyone.

Another good reason that lineman schools are good, is most schools have some type of placement service to help you find a job after you graduate. Companies today are looking for good people. It helps to have someone looking out for you when you graduate. Some schools have you learn to write resumes, where to apply and so on. These are the things that’s going to help you find a job.

Today, a lot of utilities require some type of lineman training just to get a job. They don’t take people straight off the street with no experience. And the ones that do take people with no experience, they have some type of physical test, to see if you can cut it. The competition today is fierce. Many times 100s of people apply for open positions and the lineman school requirement or physical tests, it kind of calls out the people who might not make it.

These physical tests, they mirror some of the tasks we do on the job, climbing ladders, putting together pole hardware, dealing with heights, following directions, digging with a shovel. One time I had a guy came in, new guy just started, he told me he had never had his hand on the shovel in his whole life.

So if you’ve been to lineman school, you’re going to have an advantage in these physical tests. Most of these physical tests are done by actual lineman at that company. This is the real world. We don’t give out participation trophies for showing up. Linemen want people who aren’t afraid of work and can help the crew instead of being a liability.

If you have a lineman school education, you’re probably going to have a much better shot at making an impression on the lineman giving the test. I’ve been involved many times in picking new guys at a physical test and I will tell you a real lineman can spot a poser in about five seconds. If you’ve been to lineman school, even though you don’t know know a whole lot, at least you won’t look like a poser.

Now those are all the positives of going to lineman school. Now the biggest con of this whole thing is it’s going to be cost. And some of the top lineman schools, they can be up to $25,000 for the full program. Technical schools, they will be cheaper, but sometimes you get what you pay for. To be honest, the way I look it, if you can get a lineman job, $25,000 can easily be paid back in a couple of years.

Just remember, lineman school is only the beginning. You’re going to be proud when you graduate. Your wife’s going to be proud. Your girlfriend, your family’s going to be proud of you but you have a long road ahead. First, you have to get a job. The next big hurdle is to get an apprenticeship. And yes, there’s a huge competition for those slots too. You might sign the books with a union but that’s no guarantee that you will get an apprentice slot. And some places it’s even hard to get a ground man slot. To complete an apprenticeship and make it to journeymen lineman, you’re going to have to do thousands of hours as an apprentice. You’re going to have a bunch of asshole linemen critiquing you on every task you do. You’re going to have to study because there are many things book-wise that you’ll need to learn.

Even when you make journeyman, it’s going to be several years before you are seasoned and have a good grasp on what is going on in every type of situation. So my advice, go to the best lineman school you can afford, because this is going to be the cornerstone of your career, as you move forward.

Now, I hope I’m not stopping anyone from chasing their dream. To get to the top of the lineman mountain, it’s going to take some commitment and some fortitude. Is it worth it? You’re damn right it’s worth it. In my opinion, there’s no better trade you can ever be in. We get to help people. We make good money to support our families and we get to meet great lifelong friends along the way. What else could you ask for from any type of trade?