Five Things to Consider when Selecting a Lineman Apprenticeship Program
Updated: May 26
We get it, there are a lot of options when it comes to starting a career as a lineman.
There are hundreds of lineman apprenticeship programs across the country for aspiring power and electric distribution workers. A lineman apprenticeship is an incredible opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ and receive strong skill building in the industry.
Many experienced journeyman in the industry look back at their apprenticeship as the foundation for the rest of their career in the lineman industry. The days of being a grunt. So where do you get started? On Lineman Central there are lots of programs to browse in your area, so it begs the question what sort of things should you be looking for?
Here are five things to consider when selecting a lineman apprenticeship program:
1) How confident are you in your application?
Most apprenticeship program for the lineman trade are highly competitive. We are talking union and non union. Lines get backed up. At the same time this makes sense given the tremendous opportunity at hand to learn a high paying skill with long term demand across the country. The Bureau of Labor reported the average line installer and repairman is making $65,700 per year or $31.59 per hour. Our data is showing this is headed upward all across the country.
An aspiring apprentice should first and foremost understand the bare minimum requirements of joining a lineman apprenticeship program. These often include obtaining a high school diploma or GED, at least 18 years of age, valid drivers license and eligible to obtain a Class A CDL, be medically cleared to participate in rigorous training activities, have medical insurance, and not have been convicted of a felony. These requirements are reported for each program in North America on Lineman Central.
An aspiring lineman apprentice should explore what the application process looks like. The timing and details will vary from apprenticeship to apprenticeship, but it will most likely include three components:
· Formal Application Form
· Apprenticeship Interview
· Apprenticeship Aptitude Test
The formal application form may be filled out online in some cases while other lineman programs may have this be a written form. Be sure to use good handwriting if it is the latter and take your time! This more often than not is your first impression and will be the starting point for many of your interview questions. Be sure to specify why you are interested in this specific lineman apprenticeship program (even if you are applying to several). Be honest in all of your answers.
Want to quickly get kicked out?
There is no quicker way to be removed from the applicant pool if a reviewer finds you are lying about past experience, education or personal information.
The apprenticeship interview is an opportunity for the program review board or program review committee to get to know you better as well as an opportunity for you to learn more about the apprenticeship. The best prepared future-lineman go into these interviews with a list of several well thought out questions to ask the interviewers. Be sure to thank the interviewer for his or her time and be sure to answer the question directly. Many of the questions that you will receive in a lineman apprenticeship interview will be relatively straight forward. These questions include why do you want to be part of this lineman apprenticeship program and what sort of electrical experience do you have? An interview is your opportunity to showcase your passion for the trade while also demonstrating your professionalism and character.
The Electrical Training Alliance Aptitude Test (you may also hear this referred to as the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee Aptitude Test or the IBEW aptitude test) is an additional screening portion for many lineman apprenticeship programs across the country. This may make some aspiring lineman a bit nervous but if you are able to brush up on the basics and have a core understanding of what you will be tested on it shouldn’t be anything to worry about. The format of the test is multiple choice and includes two parts: math and reading. The math section will cover algebraic equations, basic functions, finding square roots, and basic numerical problems. The reading section will present the applicant with several paragraphs and test understanding and comprehension through a multiple choice format.
2) What is the time commitment of a lineman apprenticeship?
When reviewing a potential lineman apprenticeship program the first thing that might come to mind when examining the duration of the program is how long does the apprenticeship last. Each state has specific regulations on how many hours a lineman must serve for an apprenticeship. This typically averages out to around 7,000 hours or roughly four years of full-time training and instruction. What is often forgotten for those interested in the lineman career is that not hours are created equal. Some apprenticeship programs will have much more rigorous travel as well as nights and weekend hours compared to others. The travel may not be a deal breaker for many young lineman who are interested in seeing different parts of the country, but for lineman with a young family this is an additional point to consider.
3) What is the cost of the lineman apprenticeship program?
Most lineman apprenticeship programs will have an application fee. This will range from $25 to $150. On top of that lineman should take into consideration the cost of boots and equipment and ask if this is included in the program. In some cases these will be provided ‘at no cost’ but applicants will notice fees in other areas that likely make up for this benefit. Specialized lineman training schools that offer certificates in crane operation or a CDL can be upfront with there pricing as it is a tuition based model. However for apprenticeship models or ‘earn to learn’ models these prices for the apprenticeship operator usually just means a reduction in wage for the apprentice. We recommend you explore the Lineman Central portal for up to date information on costs and other benefits.
4) Who are the common employers from a lineman apprenticeship program?
Time to focus up. This may be the single most important thing that is often over looked when a lineman joins an apprenticeship program. Employment pipelines or potential employment agreements vary greatly from apprenticeship to apprenticeship. We highly recommend you research employers and programs on Lineman Central to ensure you have a plan for your future before spending any time or money on a lineman apprenticeship program.
We aren't here to tell if you the union or non-union path is right for you. Everyone has a different things to consider... but we want to help you with is making sure you think through future employment. You wouldn't get in the interstate without an idea on where you are going. Start with the end in mind.
Today, many large utility and electric companies have preferred apprenticeship programs from which they hire entry level positions. This does not mean if you complete your apprenticeship from another program you are necessarily ineligible, but it could put you at a disadvantage compared to other applicants. Doing employer research on electric or utility companies may seem like a long ways away but it is never too soon to start to ask questions about benefits and work environment. In an increasing number of programs across the country the apprenticeship is actually a joint program in which the future employer is providing hands on guidance and plays a key role in the curriculum and educational formation. These types of joint apprentices provide a critical pipeline of labor and talent for their organization.
5) What other benefits come with the apprentice program?
Each program has its own perks and benefits. In some cases, the tools of the trade will be paid for. This can save an apprentice an early expense and will be an investment in his day to day tools used for the rest of their career. In other cases, the apprentice must pay for his own tools, hooks, line boots, safety belt, and apprenticeship books. Some lineman apprenticeship programs will cater in meals during the weekly night class while others may not even have a night class and bundle the education portion into other time slots. Almost all union apprenticeship programs will require the initiation fee to be paid up front.
These five things to consider when selecting a lineman apprenticeship program. Before you know it you will be on your way to a pre-orientation apprenticeship class!