When is a lineman certificate program worth it?
Updated: May 9
When prospecting potential education and training programs early on in a young lineman's career the path of a certificate program is one option that should be examined. Both employer and state requirements vary on the process to become a journey lineman so it is important to conduct some research on when a lineman certificate program would be worth it. In some cases a lineman certificate program may be paid for by an employer or included as part of an apprenticeship while in other cases a stand alone course may be needed.
What states require a lineman certification?
States such as California, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia have specific requirements that must be met for a lineman to perform his or her duties. As more specialized positions around the country focus on the installation of clear faulted circuits, switches, and switch gear there will be an increased need to understand the local requirements. One example of a local partnership focused on preparing the workforce to meet state regulation is the Oklahoma State University of Institute of Technology Workforce and Economic Development. This program provides a certificate in partnership with companies such as Utility Plus Inc. and Lake Region Electric Cooperative. The cohort size for a lineman certificate can vary from slightly fifteen to forty members.
Many job descriptions for apprentice lineman position across the country clearly articulate the experience and education desired for each position. In addition to having a high school diploma and willingness to work outdoor with heavy equipment, many job description will state they are looking for individuals with an ELAC or Electrical Lineworker Apprentice Certification.
Lineman are able to build quite a strong resume through a portfolio of certifications throughout their training and preparation. It is not uncommon for an experienced journeyman to hold multiple levels of a CDL, various state certifications and exemptions in addition to the baseline certifications around OSHA and CPR.
Potential downsides of paying for a lineman certificate program
Many community colleges in states such as Arizona, Illinois, Nevada, and South Carolina offer certificate of completion in lineman technology. The topics in these program typically include the introduction to line construction, basic climbing and grounding, as well as the basics of taking a line out of service. The key to analyzing the cost benefit analysis of there types of paid program is asking yourself where do you see yourself in ten to fifteen years and does the program you are interested in have the commercial partnerships to get you through. While a paid certificate may look strong on a resume, the lack of a network or introduction to the right employer could create a poor investment. Good questions to ask a program director for a lineman certificate program include who are some of the major employers from the lineman program and what sort of employment rate does the program typically promote.
In some cases young lineman will opt to make education investments elsewhere in hopes of it paying dividends down the road. There are an increasing number of lineman who opt to pursue a certification through the NCCCO or the National Commission for Crane Operators. In some cases this certification can bump up the hourly pay for an operator by several dollars.