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Journey to Journeyman: Appreciating our Linemen


There aren’t many people who are willing to stand inside a bucket the size of a storage tote and be lifted 40 feet in the air.  There are even less who are willing to do that while handling 25,000 volts of electricity.  Add to that the responsibility of keeping safety first while others are operating heavy machinery and you have the basic job description of a Journeyman Lineman.


If this were the extent of a Journeyman’s job, that would be more than enough reason to “appreciate” the courage of these men, however, there is another requirement of a Journeyman’s career that is relatively unknown. Not only do Journeymen Linemen need courage, strength and a focused-eye for handling electricity, but they also need four years of electric education and test scores to prove it.  


At SWRE, we require our Apprentice Linemen to take over 40 tests through Northwest Lineman’s School, in addition to their first four years on the job.  The material in these tests include detailed information about metering, framing, transformers and other information such as safety and legal guidelines through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 


All of this hard work and training ensures that our team will always deliver the best service available in the safest way possible.  When the lights are out at your house, you can bet that there is a highly qualified Journeyman Lineman working his hardest to get your power restored, even if that means missing holidays or family events to do so. 


Currently at SWRE there are five Journeyman Linemen.  We also have four Apprentice Linemen who are mastering manual labor in the day and absorbing mental information in the evening so they can achieve certification as a Journeyman Lineman.  These are the heroes of our coop story, the men who deserve our utmost respect.


Without the commitment of our Apprentice and Journeyman Linemen, our cooperative would not function.  Our offices would not be connected to electricity and our homes would be dark and silent.  It is for this reason that I hope you will join me in showing gratitude and appreciation for our SWRE linemen on Monday, April 9th as we celebrate Lineman Appreciation Day with rural electric cooperatives across the nation.  Reach out and say, “thank you” to those who are working hard to keep our power on. I know I will. 


-- Ken Simmons, CEO of SWRE


This article originally shared in the April 2018 edition of the SWRE newsletter.

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