Recently, 22 women passed their final certification tests in the first all-female utility lineman class at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. The school has offered the class since 2008, but only two women enrolled at that time. A $1-million Clean Energy Workforce grant allowed the school to offer a free course for women only.
The students ranged in age from 20 to 45. One was homeless. At the close of the 600-hour, 11-week course, they passed a climbing skill test, safety precautions and equipment knowledge exam, and a variety of other skill tests. After their graduation ceremony, the women changed into their work clothes and offered a climbing demonstration for friends and family.
As of 2005, women made up only 3.5% of the lineman workforce nationally, and only a handful of those women work in transmission. All linemen work on power lines, but the tools required for transmission line work are heavier, and the structures are usually taller. Workers are often required to work on steel towers hundreds of feet off the ground.
In general, linemen do everything from patrolling lines and maintaining rights-of-way to replacing poles and conductors. When emergencies cause power outages, some linemen must work in wet, windy and cold environments. Teamwork and communication are key aspects of the lineman's job, especially during storms. In these instances, it's critically important to follow all safety procedures to the letter. Seeing a dark town light up after a storm can be pretty rewarding to linemen who made the repairs.
For an added perspective, check out this video:
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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.