Become a Powerline Technician with the IBEW CCO & ECAO

Powerline technicians are highly sought-after professionals, indispensable to organizations like the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction Council of Ontario (IBEW CCO). The expertise of these skilled tradespeople plays a vital role in ensuring a reliable supply of electricity to homes, businesses, and industries across our province.

Powerline Technician (Photographed By Brett Gundlock)

What Does the Powerline Technician Trade Involve?

The following overview is from the Red Seal website and generally applies to all Powerline Technicians across Canada. Powerline Technician is a Red Seal Trade.

Powerline technicians construct, operate, maintain and repair overhead and underground electrical transmission and distribution systems. They erect and maintain poles and structures. They also install, maintain and repair overhead and underground powerlines and cables. They splice and terminate conductors and related wiring to connect power distribution and transmission networks.

Powerline technicians work outdoors at various worksites, at any hour and in any weather. The work usually involves travel to and from the worksite, which is often in remote areas, necessitating the use of a variety of access equipment, such as all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, aircraft and watercraft. Powerline technicians are also often working away from home during the work week and/or for extended periods of time.

Occupational hazards in this trade are working with high-voltage equipment, working in confined spaces and working at heights. The work may be strenuous and requires frequent heavy lifting, working in awkward positions, carrying and reaching. Getting to powerlines requires climbing poles and structures, working from a bucket attached to an aerial lift boom and entering maintenance holes and underground vaults.

Other inherent occupational hazards in this trade are electrical shocks, working in confined spaces and falling. With experience, powerline technicians may act as mentors and trainers to apprentices in the trade. They may advance to senior journeyperson, foreperson, supervisory or managerial positions. They can also transfer their skills to related occupations in areas such as design, planning, safety, technical support services and system control.

Ontario powerline workers after a storm.

What’s Required to Become a Powerline Technician?

The apprenticeship for a Powerline Technician consists of four terms of 2000 hours each. It takes approximately one year to complete each term and includes four levels of schooling.

Requirements vary from contractor to contractor and IBEW local to local; however, the following is an overview of the general skills you require:

  • Good communication skills to coordinate and facilitate work with customers, co-workers and other trades.
  • Strong analytical skills in order to read and interpret diagrams, drawings and specifications.
  • Good mechanical aptitude to install, troubleshoot and repair equipment.
  • Good vision and the ability to distinguish colours.
  • Ability to adapt to change and a willingness to keep up with new developments.
  • Ability to work shifts, including weekends, as required.
  • Comfort working at heights and in confined spaces.
  • Enjoy the challenge of working outdoors and in all weather conditions.
  • Strict adherence to policies and procedures, including safety guidelines and regulations.
  • Willingness to travel throughout the province, including remote areas.
  • Strong teamwork and mentoring skills.

Education Requirements to Become a Powerline Technician Apprentice

The following are the academic qualifications for Powerline Technician candidates:

  • High school diploma; some college programs require Grade 12 Math.
  • College-level diploma in an electrical or electrical field of study is preferred.
  • Demonstrated experience working with tools.
  • Valid Class “DZ” or higher Driver’s License with an excellent driving record.
  • Proficiency in reading and writing English.

Who to Contact if you are interested in becoming a Powerline Technician Apprentice?

ECAO Members who perform work with Powerline Technicians and Powerline Technician Apprentices:

  • A&L Line Construction
  • Alltrade Industrial
  • Grid Link
  • Ainsworth Power Construction
  • Beacon Utility Contractors Ltd
  • B.G. High Voltage Systems Ltd
  • Black and McDonald
  • Carleton Electric
  • Durham High Voltage
  • Dundas Power Line Ltd
  • Entera Utility Contractors
  • Eptcon Ltd
  • Fellmore Electrical Contractors
  • K-Line Maintenance and Construction Ltd
  • Engie Multitech
  • Powerline Plus
  • Powertel Utilities Contractors Limited
  • Pro-Gen
  • Thirau
  • TM3 Inc

Earn While You Learn!

As an apprentice, you are paid while you Learn:

  • 50% of the journeyperson rate for your first period of on-the-job training
  • 60% of the journeyperson rate for your second period of on-the-job training
  • 70% of the journeyperson rate for your third period of on-the-job training
  • 80% of the journeyperson rate for your fourth period of on-the-job training

Contact an IBEW local for more information about the benefits of becoming an IBEW member in the Line Industry. You can also get started in this trade through Groundworker and Groundworker/Equipment Operator openings.