How to Become a Line Worker in New Mexico

Understand everything there is to know about being a lineman and how community colleges provide the perfect training opportunities to become one.
Linemen are essential workers whose job involves connecting and repairing electricity for homes, businesses, etc. Understanding what it means to be a lineman, including their duties, and skills can help you plan your career in this field. In this guide, we will help you understand everything there is to know about being a lineman and how community colleges provide the perfect training opportunities to become one.
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Many linemen in New Mexico receive their education and training from local community colleges that help them learn the necessary skills in a short period of time, allowing them to start work as soon as possible. 

Typically working for utility companies, a lineman's job includes performing the transmission, distribution, and electrical work for electrical substations, overhead electric transmissions, transformers, distribution and service lines, meters, etc. They must also learn how to be first responders in the event of power outages caused by natural disasters.

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Salary and job outlook for a lineman

The average salary for linemen in the United States is $22.57 per hour, according to Indeed Salaries. Additionally, linemen can earn an extra $6,750 annually by working overtime. 

The average annual salary for linemen in New Mexico is approximately $75,515, annually, but the range generally lies between $70,492 - $77,410, according to Salary.com

According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Overall employment of line installers and repairers is projected to show little or no change from 2020 to 2030. Despite limited employment growth, about 23,300 openings for line installers and repairers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire."

You might also be interested in: How to get a CDL in New Mexico

What are the requirements to become a power lineman?

To get an apprenticeship job as a lineman, the primary qualifications include a high school diploma or GED certificate, active knowledge of algebra and trigonometry, and a complete understanding of electrical systems. 

Linemen typically enter this field as apprentices and eventually get promoted to higher-level positions. In many cases, people get a certification or an associate degree from community college to advance their knowledge and understanding before entering this line of work. 

With more and more experience and education, a lineman eventually reaches journey level. These kinds of workers can perform most tasks without supervision. Once a worker reaches this level, they require less on-the-job training and employers become more open to hiring them. 

Linemen are required to have adequate mechanical skills, physical strength, teamwork abilities, and full-color vision.

Be sure to read: Best Paying Trade Jobs in New Mexico (Salary Insight & Details)

A step-by-step guide to becoming a lineman

Now that you have a better understanding of what kind of work is expected from linemen and the requirements needed to enter this field, here is a step-by-step guide to getting you on track to becoming a lineman. 

High school diploma/GED

To get an apprenticeship as a lineman, the basic requirement includes a high school diploma or GED. If you do not wish to get a high school degree, you can take individual classes and give your GED tests. 

Earn an associate’s degree or certificate from your local community college

A community college degree/certificate can be extremely valuable in this line of work. After high school, you could either join a community college directly or start your apprenticeship and study alongside your work. 

Earning a degree or certificate can help you gain essential knowledge and skills that can be extremely helpful during a lineman apprenticeship. The duration of a degree or certificate at a community college varies. However, typically, it takes anywhere from two months to a year to complete

A study by Zippia shows that although linemen do not require an associate degree and the majority of them only have a high school diploma, linemen with an associate degree can earn more than those without, earning approximately $86,504 annually ($86,451 with a Bachelor’s degree).

There are a variety of linemen related certificates you can earn from community college to advance your knowledge and skills at any point of your career. Some of them include:

  • Commercial driver's license: The CDL Training course equips students with the knowledge required for driver license testing as well as training for drivers who are looking to earn a commercial driver's license. These courses also teach students about the federal requirements for commercial driver license according to the state. 
  • OSHA certification: An OSHA certificate program teaches linemen the required safety regulations for electrical work.
  • Pre-apprenticeship certificate: This certificate program equips students with the knowledge and technical skills required to be a lineman. These certificate courses often include CDL and safety training. 

Related: Free Community College: Everything You Need To Know

Linemen working
Photo by Jcomp from freepik

Take an aptitude test

Once you have completed your educational requirements, you can take a linemen aptitude test in order to get into an apprenticeship program.These tests typically entail math and comprehension related questions that measure critical thinking and analytical skills.

Begin an apprenticeship program

Once you're accepted into an apprenticeship program, you can begin working as a paid apprentice under journeyman linemen who can teach you the knowledge and skills you need to pass your apprenticeship. A lineman apprenticeship takes about 7,000 hours of hands-on work and training classes, or about four years, to complete in most states. Here are some important skills you learn during a lineman apprenticeship:

  • Helping professional linemen with equipment
  • Taking measurements
  • Performing repairs 
  • Learning the maintenance of electrical connections

Become a journeyman lineman

Once you've completed the required hours of experience in an apprenticeship, you can be eligible to become a journeyman lineman. Some states require you to get a license to become a lineman, so you can use your knowledge from your apprenticeship to obtain a license and begin working independently to repair, replace and maintain power infrastructure.

Know Your Market

Before entering any field, you should be aware of the market that lays ahead of you. Here is a list of the top three cities in New Mexico, as well as what each city has to offer in terms of job opportunities and average salary.

  • Albuquerque
  • The average yearly income for a Lineman in Albuquerque is $76,212, which is around $36.64 per hour.

Here are the top 5 highest paying Power Lineman related jobs in Albuquerque:

  • Head Of Power Lineman - $83,784 annually
  • Director Power Lineman - $83,604
  • Senior Power Lineman - $82,260
  • Self Employed Power Lineman - $76,361
  • Senior Electrical Lineman - $74,144

Las Cruces

  • The average yearly income for a Lineman in Las Cruces is $63,439, which is around $30.50 per hour.

Here are the top 5 highest paying Power Lineman related jobs in Las Cruces:

  • Head Of Power Lineman - $84,966
  • Director Power Lineman - $83,512
  • Senior Power Lineman - $83,422
  • Self Employed Power Lineman - $75,506
  • Senior Electrical Lineman - $71,794

Rio Rancho

  • The average yearly income for a Lineman in Rio Rancho is $45,269 , which is around $21.76 per hour.

Here are the top 5 highest paying Power Lineman related jobs in Rio Rancho:

  • Head Of Power Lineman - $84,052
  • Director Power Lineman - $82,712
  • Senior Power Lineman - $82,523
  • Self Employed Power Lineman - $74,669
  • Senior Electrical Lineman - $74,666

Central New Mexico Community College

Highlights:

Central New Mexico Ingenuity, in partnership with the New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NMRECA), offers an immersive 15-week lineworker pre-apprenticeship certificate program at Central New Mexico Community College.

The program teaches students the fundamental knowledge and key job skills required for the job, such as installing cross-arms, practicing pole-top rescues, driver’s license training, proper use, and care of PPE, safe work practices, and much more. 

“I want my students to go into an apprenticeship fully ready for anything that gets thrown at them, when they are done here, they should have an arsenal of knowledge, and the upper hand when it comes to performing in the workforce.” says Kevin Dunlap, CNM Ingenuity Lineworker Consultant

Program details 

The 15-week certificate program provides hands-on training and activities that help enhance students’ technical skills. Students are also required to complete 240 internship hours and obtain a Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in order to earn the certificate. 

Fact

Twice a year, NMRECA hosts a week-long apprenticeship training at their facility for linemen apprentices from all over New Mexico.

Campus location

The Central New Mexico Community College campus is located at 900 University Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106, USA.

Cost and financial aid

Average annual cost 

The average annual cost of studying at CNM is $3,429, as of 2021. Cost includes tuition, living costs, books and supplies, and fees (not including the average grants and scholarships for federal financial aid recipients).

Financial Aid 

CNM offers many financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Click here to find out more! 

Graduation rate & salary

Graduation Rate 

Out of 20,456 students:

  • 25% graduated
  • 44% withdrew
  • 29% transferred
  • 2% still enrolled

Salary 

The average starting salary of linemen graduating from CNM ranges from $55k-$65k a year. 

Student Body

There are over 18,120 undergraduate students at Central New Mexico Community College, with 33% of them being full-time students and 67% being part-time. 

New Mexico Junior College

Highlights:

New Mexico Junior College offers its very own 12-week NMJC Lineman Utility Training Program. The training this program provides you with includes the knowledge and technical skill required to help kickstart your career working as a lineman providing electrical power distribution/transmission. 

Program details

There are numerous opportunities throughout the United States for Licensed Linemen. In this program, students will be taught the following:

  • CDL Training
  • Workplace Safety (OSHA 10)
  • CAST EEI Prep
  • Navigating the Workplace
  • Climbing School
  • Basic Electrical Circuits
  • Ground Man School 

Fact

New Mexico Junior College (NMJC) has its very own Lineman Training Ground with experienced instructors such as linemen, electrical instructors, and safety professionals.

Campus location

The New Mexico Junior College campus is located at 95317 N Lovington Hwy, Hobbs, NM 88240, USA.

Cost and financial aid

Average annual cost 

The average annual cost of studying at New Mexico Junior College is $7,381, as of 2021. Cost includes tuition, living costs, books and supplies, and fees (not including the average grants and scholarships for federal financial aid recipients).

Financial Aid 

New Mexico Junior College offers financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and work programs. Click here to find out more! 

Graduation rate & salary

Graduation Rate 

Out of 2,531 students:

  • 18% graduated
  • 70% withdrew
  • 7% transferred
  • 5% still enrolled

Salary 

The average starting salary of linemen graduating from NMJC ranges from $55k-$65k a year. 

Dona Ana Community College

Highlights:

Doña Ana Community College offers a one-year Electrical Lineworker pre-apprenticeship certificate program. The program aims to give pupils the technical background and manual skills they'll need to become linemen, teaching core installation and maintenance techniques for residential, commercial and industrial electrical systems.

Program details

DACC’s lineman training program includes training courses structured around the NCCER curriculum and National Electrical Code (NEC) standards. Students are required to complete simulated real-world job site projects that enhance their individual and teamwork skills.

Students are also given the opportunity to work with licensed linemen and gain on-the-job experience.

Fact

Doña Ana Community College (DACC) is the fourth-largest higher education institution in New Mexico.

Campus location

The Doña Ana Community College campus is located on 1780 E University Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88003, United States.

Cost and financial aid

Average annual cost 

The average annual cost of studying at Doña Ana Community College is $5,539, as of 2021. Cost includes tuition, living costs, books and supplies, and fees (not including the average grants and scholarships for federal financial aid recipients).

Financial Aid 

Doña Ana Community College offers four major categories of financial aid: Grants, Loans, Workstudy, and Scholarships. Click here for more information. 

Graduation rate & salary

Graduation Rate 

Out of 5,270 students:

  • 23% graduated
  • 59% withdrew
  • 15% transferred
  • 2% still enrolled

Salary 

The average starting salary of linemen graduating from DACC ranges from $55k-$65k a year. 

Student Body

There are over 5,407 undergraduate students at Doña Ana Community College, with 58% of them being full-time students and 42% being part-time. 

Top companies for Journeyman Linemen in New Mexico 

According to Indeed, the following are the highest paying companies for linemen in New Mexico.

  • Chugach Government Solutions - $54.78 per hour
  • Portland General Electric - $52.16 per hour
  • Xcel Energy - $49.92 per hour
  • Tacoma Public Utilities - $49.46 per hour
  • TUCSON ELECTRIC POWER - $49.35 per hour
  • Avista Corporation - $48.63 per hour
  • Avista - $48.63 per hour
  • MasTec Utility Services - $47.96 per hour
  • Vector Force Development, LLC - $47.14 per hour
  • Imperial Irrigation District - $47.14 per hour

External programs for linemen in New Mexico

  1. Southwestern Line Apprenticeship Program
  2. American Lineman Institute
  3. Continental Divide Electric Cooperative Lineworker School

Conclusion

Linemen are in high demand since they perform such a crucial function. If you wish to pursue it as a career, make sure you assess whether you have the required technical skills and expertise. Community colleges can help you expand your knowledge and experiences so you can be the best lineman you can be. 

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