Utilities deal with line worker shortage

Many electric utilities are grappling with a shortage of qualified candidates for one of their most important positions: Line worker.

Electrical power line installers and repairers accounted for about 115,000 jobs in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment is projected to grow by only about 2,000 – less than 2% – by 2029. That figure is low compared to projected overall job growth of 6 million – about 3.7% – but does not include the open positions left by retiring veteran and career line workers.

The U.S. is experiencing what Forbes calls an “unprecedented skilled labor shortage” that has electric generation, transmission and distribution companies struggling to identify and woo qualified replacements even for jobs with above-average pay. That includes line work, which in 2019 had a median annual salary of nearly $80,000.

IREA is pursuing numerous recruiting strategies to meet these challenges and ensure we continue to have the personnel needed to keep our system safe and reliable.

A start in line work typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Most entry-level positions offer extensive on-the-job training or an apprenticeship that includes both classroom instruction and hands-on field work. It typically takes an apprentice line worker four years to achieve journey level, which means they can perform most work without supervision.

Most utilities currently need journey-level line workers who already know how to safely perform important, oftentimes complex work on and around high-voltage lines and equipment. This need is not likely to diminish. On top of attrition, utilities must keep up with growing demand for electricity. New lines and facilities require maintenance and improvements to ensure reliability.

IREA regularly has openings for line workers at all skill levels. We offer competitive compensation, generous paid time off plans and an excellent benefits package. Visit our Careers page for more information.