Power utility technicians help control the systems that generate and distribute electric power. Whether on a conventional grid or smart grid, the energy world is getting greener — which means that those with training in clean energy will be in especially high demand. If you have always been fascinated by electricity and enjoy working with your hands, then this can be a cool career that keeps you on your toes. It's just the kind of job for someone who dreads being trapped at a desk all day.
Spend some time around power technicians and it might sound like this field has its own language. Some terms might sound familiar — but what do they mean? Here are a few terms to get you started:
A smart grid is a modernized electricity supply network that uses digital communications technology, computer-based remote control and automation. This type of technology is beginning to be used on all types of electricity networks, from home and businesses to power plants and wind farms. Smart grid technology can detect and react to local changes in usage, which has huge implications for energy efficiency.
Voltage is how we measure electrical pressure when an electric current travels from one end of a wire to another. You'll often hear that power linemen work with high voltage. The exact definition and measurement of high voltage is tricky to nail down since it can really depend on the specific job or place a power utility technician is working. In power utility, high voltage is typically considered any voltage over approximately 35,000 volts. Regardless of what voltage they're working with, it's important that power technicians put safety first and follow proper safety procedures.
A lineman is a term commonly used for power utility technicians that work outdoors. Linemen construct and maintain electric power transmission and distribution facilities. Folks who install and maintain electrical wiring inside buildings are electricians.
So, think a career as a power utility technician is right for you?
If you are always trying to figure out how stuff works or are always looking at the big picture when solving a problem, then you'd fit right in as a power utility technician. It's also good to have an eye for detail and good communication skills since you'll probably be working closely with others.
Download our free career guide, "The Complete eBook to Starting Your Career as a Power Utility Technician", to learn more about getting a job in power utility.