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What's The Difference: Inside Wiremen, Outside Linemen, And Electricians


Wiremen are all electricians, yet not all electricians are wiremen. How does that work, and what is an outside lineman? Read on to find out the differences between linemen and wiremen.

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What Is An Outside Lineman?

All those outdoor electrical power lines were installed by outside linemen. As one, you will run the lines from the power source to the building. The outside lineman may have to climb high or crawl low to get the power flowing. You may restring power lines or maintain the old ones. You might be in charge of planning entire electrical projects or just be there to supervise. The outside lineman may work in rural or urban settings—anywhere electrical is needed to be maintained or installed.

To become an outside lineman, you must be 18 years of age, passed Algebra with a C or higher, and have your high school diploma or GED. You’ll enter a journeyman lineman apprenticeship program, which takes approximately three to five years of classes and real-life job training (including climbing and rescue classes) before taking the credentialing exam. Once you pass that, you’ll be an outside lineman.

What Is An Inside Wireman?

Inside wiremen are the electricians who install, maintain, or repair interior electrical equipment for commercial or industrial buildings. Some people lump residential wiremen with inside wiremen—they do similar work, but residential wiremen focus on single and multi-family houses, while inside wiremen do commercial work.

Your days could vary tremendously based on what is needed. You may be asked to install a controls system one day and troubleshoot an entire building in hopes of finding the electrical issue on the next.

Similar to the requirements for becoming an outside lineman, to be an inside wireman, you must first be 18, have a minimum of a C in Algebra, and hold a high school diploma or GED. Then there is an apprenticeship program that will take approximately three to five years, after which you'll be eligible to take the certification exam.

But They Are All Electricians

So, the main difference between inside wiremen and outside linemen is where they work. But both groups are fully considered electricians. And all electricians, no matter the specialty, are educated on the basics. You should know how to read blueprints, troubleshoot, install, repair, and maintain electrical for every type of building.

Almost all electricians, including wiremen and linemen, work full time, and erratic hours aren’t usual—think about it, if the lights go out or the power goes down, electricians need to be available to fix the problems. Additionally, inclement weather is a huge factor for outside linemen, since your job keeps you outdoors.

The median annual pay for all electricians is $54,110. The top 10 percent will earn close to $92,690 per year, while those who are just starting out will make $32,180 annually. Your specialty will play into this as well, with more complicated or difficult positions paying even better. Once you figure out which area of the trade to go into, find your school and get started learning!

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