Cooperative News

The journey from apprentice lineworker to journeyworker

What it means to reach the highest level as a lineworker

At PEC, our dedicated and skilled lineworkers work rain or shine, day or night, risking their lives to ensure we deliver safe and reliable electricity to our members. Whether it’s preventative maintenance or an emergency restoration operation, each PEC crew will have at least one journeyworker among them. A journeyworker is a lineworker who has completed a lengthy and challenging apprenticeship program, and has become certified to work with equipment of all electric voltages. They also directly supervise and mentor apprentices.

Lineworker Apprenticeship Program

For those who are looking for a career as a lineworker, it all starts with an apprenticeship.  Being a lineworker is a demanding profession, and becoming a journeyworker requires great dedication to the career path. PEC’s Lineworker Apprenticeship Program provides aspiring journeyworkers an excellent opportunity to earn pay while working their way through the approximately four-year program. During that time, lineworkers develop the skills required to earn the industry recognized Department of Labor Journeyworker certification.

There are four levels in an apprentice’s path to becoming a journeyworker, with apprentice 4 being the most advanced. While progressing from apprentice 4 to journeyworker is the ultimate goal, the biggest jump in responsibility comes at the transition from apprentice 3 to apprentice 4. A lineworker will not graduate to apprentice 4 unless they have demonstrated they are capable of safely undertaking almost all of the work done by journeyworkers.


Veteran connection

Many of the lineworkers at PEC are veterans, and have used their GI Bill for PEC’s apprentice program. Keith Baty is a journeyworker and U.S. Army veteran working in our Liberty Hill District. He explains that the discipline and teamwork instilled through military service is directly applicable to success in this field.

“Becoming a lineworker appeals to veterans because it’s hands-on work. You work with your crew every day. The bond you develop is similar to the brotherhood you experience in service.” Half of Baty’s six-man crew served in the military, and he says the similarities help make the transition from service to line work a natural one.


Greater responsibility

For lineworkers, graduating to journeyworker is not just a promotion, it also includes serious new responsibilities that put the safety of others in their hands. The more advanced a lineworker becomes, the more dangerous and high voltage equipment they are qualified to work on. Safety is always the number one priority, so certain work is only performed by journeyworkers.

On a day-to-day basis, the job can involve routine duties like connecting new members to power, line maintenance, and setting poles. But even these routine activities can be dangerous, and climbing poles is certainly not for the faint of heart, especially during inclement weather. Bigger jobs can also require an impressive amount of coordination and teamwork, and it falls to our journeyworkers to show great leadership for their crews.

Not all of the new responsibilities a journeyworker gains are technical in nature, however. Journeyworkers mentor apprentices and communicate directly with members in the field to help ensure their safety and satisfaction. When working in the field and communicating with the public, a journeyworker is the face of PEC. The quality of their character and the work of their crew will leave a lasting impression in the minds of those they interact with.