Powerful Geography
Line Workers

Line Workers

Line Workers

Main Topic: Environment and Society
Secondary Topic: Physical Geography

Overview:  Line installers and repairers, also known as line workers, install or repair electrical power systems and telecommunications cables, including fiber optics.  A complex network of physical power lines and cables provides consumers with electricity, landline telephone communication, cable television, and Internet access.   Line installers and repairers can specialize in different areas depending on the type of network and industry in which they work:

Electrical power-line installers and repairers install and maintain the power grid—the network of power lines that moves electricity from generating plants to customers. They routinely work with high-voltage electricity, which requires extreme caution.  Line workers who maintain the interstate power grid work in crews that travel to locations throughout a large region to service transmission lines and towers. Workers employed by local utilities work mainly with lower voltage distribution lines, maintaining equipment such as transformers, voltage regulators, switches, traffic lights, and streetlights.

Telecommunications line installers and repairers install and maintain the lines and cables used by network communications companies. Depending on the service provided—local and long-distance telephone, cable television, or Internet—telecommunications companies use different types of cables, including fiber optic cables.

Storms and other natural disasters can cause extensive damage to power and telecommunications lines. When service is lost, line repairers must work quickly to restore service to customers.  They first must identify and find the areas with the damaged lines, which could be wires along a street grid or underground, or sometimes in remote locations.

As a result, geographic skills are important for line workers.  They need to know how to read a map, understand terrain, comprehend the effects of weather, and be aware of the interaction between the environment and human activities, since their job duties are integrated with all these factors.  In the future, global positioning system (GPS) data and digital maps in the trucks or as handheld devices will likely become more prevalent in both line installation and repair work.

Geographers at work:  Environmental geographers, physical geographers

Recommended College Courses:  Environmental geography, physical geography, natural resource use and management

Skills:  Map reading, spatial skills, understanding of physical terrain and weather, geographic information systems

Occupation Group: Installation, Maintenance, and Repair

Learn more about Line Workers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor:  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/line-installers-and-repairers.htm#tab-2

Written by Christopher Anderson