Linemen are critical for keeping utility services running smoothly. If you’re interested in this career path, you might be wondering how much does a lineman make a year. The mean annual salary for electrical power line installers and repairers was $82,770 in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
It’s possible to make more money (or less) depending on how many years of experience you have and where you’re employed. Looking at hourly and annual wage data can provide a clearer answer to the question of how much money does a lineman make.
What Is a Lineman?
A lineman or line installer and repairer is someone who works with electrical power systems and telecommunications systems. The typical duties and responsibilities of a lineman include:
• Installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical power lines
• Identifying defective components within electrical systems, such as transformers or voltage regulators
• Erecting power poles and stringing electrical lines
• Inspecting and testing power lines and equipment
• Operating power equipment to complete repairs or installations of electrical system components
Linemen can work in different specialty areas. For example, some linemen exclusively work on electrical power substations, while others may install and repair fiber optic cables. Line repairers may be dispatched to repair electrical lines or telecommunications systems following a natural disaster, such as a hurricane.
A lineman’s work requires being outdoors much of the time. Unlike retail or restaurant workers, they typically have limited interaction with the public, which could make this one of the best jobs for introverts.
However, they still have to communicate with colleagues, so it’s not necessarily one of the best jobs for antisocial people who prefer to work alone.
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How Much Does a Starting Lineman Make?
What is a good entry-level salary for a lineman? Entry-level salaries for electrical linemen vary depending on where they’re located, their educational background, and which company they’re employed with. At the low end of the spectrum, lineman jobs pay an annual wage of $40,070, according to the BLS.
How does salary vs. hourly pay compare for linemen? Again at the low end, a starting lineman makes $22.63 an hour, according to BLS data. At the high end of the scale, a lineman earns $55.09 per hour or $114,590 in annual salary. These estimates assume that a full-time schedule for a lineman works out to 2,080 hours per year.
When discussing how much does a lineman make an hour, it’s important to consider the bigger picture. The actual hourly wage for a lineman can depend on how many hours they work per year and how many of those hours are paid at their regular wage, versus overtime pay or time-and-a-half.
Hourly and annual pay for linemen can increase as they gain more experience. For example, if you’re asking how much does a journeyman lineman make, you’re likely to get a different answer compared to someone who’s just starting out. Journeyman linemen are fully trained and can have years of experience, while a regular lineman may still be at the apprentice stage.
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What Is the Average Salary for a Lineman?
The average annual salary for a lineman is $82,770, according to the BLS, while the median salary is $82,340 per year. The median lineman salary reflects the middle ground between the highest and lowest salaries. Average salaries reflect the mean of all salaries earned by linemen.
The average lineman salary by state may be higher or lower than the national average. Here’s a comparison of the average lineman salary by state, based on BLS data for 2022.
Average Lineman Salary by State for 2022
If you’re wondering what trade makes the most money, jobs in the electrical field certainly make the list. When you look at the bigger picture, lineman positions can be some of the highest paying jobs by state.
In terms of what is competitive pay for a lineman, it’s easy to see that some states have a much higher average salary than others. The top states for lineman jobs, which includes California, pay $100,000 or more a year on average. But is $100,000 a good salary for this kind of work? That’s an important question to ask, since this type of job can be more physically intensive — and dangerous — than others.
Whether a six-figure salary is good or not can depend largely on how you use it. If you’re focused on saving, then $100K a year might go pretty far. On the other hand, if you’re struggling with debt or don’t keep a regular budget, then you might have a hard time making ends meet, even with six-figure pay.
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Lineman Job Considerations for Pay & Benefits
Becoming a lineman may require no more than a high school diploma or equivalent. Instead of earning a bachelor’s or advanced degree, you may learn everything you need to know on the job through hands-on training. Most linemen work regular business hours and schedules, though they may be expected to work weekends or respond to emergency calls for service.
If you’re working full-time, your employer may offer a benefits package that includes health insurance, a retirement plan, and other perks. That, along with a solid annual salary, can make this kind of work appealing.
Again, how much much money a lineman makes can depend on what kind of experience they have and where they’re located. Living in California or New York, for example, can help you unlock higher pay. However, that can also mean dealing with a higher cost of living, which can put more of a strain on your paycheck. And of course, inflation can also affect your hourly wage.
Pros and Cons of Lineman Salary
It’s easy to be persuaded that a career as a lineman could be worthwhile when you’re looking solely at the average annual salary. If you’ve paid attention to any of the recent discussions about raising the minimum wage, you should be aware that linemen make a significantly higher hourly rate.
Making more money can be a good thing if you’re able to reach your financial goals. That might include keeping an emergency fund, putting money away for retirement, or paying down debt. As mentioned, lineman jobs can also come with good benefits, depending on where you’re employed.
Now, what about the cons? Lineman work can be stressful and may involve working long hours if you’re repairing power lines after a natural disaster. You may be required to work in less than ideal weather conditions, including extreme cold or heat. A lot of driving can be involved if you’re constantly moving from one location to another.
The job itself can be dangerous, since linemen routinely climb power poles and deal with high-voltage electricity. Minor or major injuries and even deaths can occur on the job. While linemen are specially trained to deal with different types of emergencies, this is still one of the most hazardous occupations overall.
Working as a lineman is something you might consider if you’d like to bank a higher salary and you don’t mind physically strenuous work outdoors. Comparing the average lineman salary by state can be helpful when deciding where to apply for a position.
What is the highest salary for a lineman?
The highest average salary by state for a lineman is $109,670. That’s what linemen in Connecticut earn on average per year. Where you live and work can make a difference in how much money you can make as a lineman, as some states have much higher average pay than others.
Does a lineman make six figures?
There are lineman jobs that pay six figures per year. Whether you can make six figures as a lineman will depend largely on your experience and where you live.
What does a lineman make in Texas?
Texas is one of the lower-paying states for lineman jobs. The average annual salary for a lineman in Texas is $70,090, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether that’s a good salary to live on can depend on your expenses and which part of Texas you call home.
Photo credit: iStock/Prapat Aowsakorn
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