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How to become a helicopter lineman in 2022

Updated: May 5

The early morning, late nights, wild temperature fluctuations, and intense work environment makes the lineman profession one of the most demanding in the world. In case dealing with 110 kilovolts on a daily basis was not enough to keep things interesting… one select group goes above and beyond to what deliver in an environment many people probably didn’t even know existed: lineman on helicopters.

In this post we discuss:

How to become a helicopter lineman

Helicopter lineman companies

Helicopter lineman jobs

Salary for helicopter linemen

Yes lineman on helicopters.

Usually lineman are climbing the poles, but there are a rare breed that choose another path: flying them. Sometimes the need for overhead distribution over long rural passes or rugged mountain landscape makes it impossible for traditional trucks and rigging to effectively. The aerial lineman is responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining overhead electrical power lines and auxiliary equipment.

With no path to ground, the linemen can safely work on live conductors without taking a costly outage. The productivity of helicopters crews is noticeable. Rather than having to find road or ground access in hill or uneven terrain, an aerial lineman can be dropped in strategic locations. Linemen inspect, construct, and repair transmission lines from a helicopter platform, helicopter skid, transferring to the structure, short haul method, and wire-walking on energized as well as de-energized lines.

helicopter lineman
Lineman working with helicopter crew

How to become a helicopter lineman

While most of the lineman that apply and are accepted for helicopter lineman crews are experienced journeyman, there are occasional apprenticeships and ground hand opportunities to work on these crews. There are plenty of tasks needed to be completed on the ground such as maintaining a driver’s logbook and vehicle inspection log while on duty. In order to be a journeyman working out of a helicopter you must be comfortable and experienced constructing, inspecting and repairing EHV (extra high voltage) lines. Taking a bird out to the wires is quite a bit different from working from a bucket truck or even on spikes.

Like most advanced career positions in the line industry a strong foundation from a quality apprenticeship is the correct starting point. Learning the tried-and-true fundamentals on the ground is the surest path to get up in the air. “Patience, young grasshopper” as the saying goes. Everyone starts as an apprentice, even the most experienced aerial lineman who have advanced from a foreman to a superintendent to a director of operations to a even wire pilot (additional licensure and training needed of course). 4 years and 8,000 OJT hours working as an apprentice lineman in maintenance and construction of electrical systems is the best path forward.