Linemen work with two different types of systems: electrical and telecommunications. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics separates the two categories for the purpose of reporting salary data. Regardless of the category in which a lineman is employed, his salary can vary depending on factors including where he works.
As of May 2009, the mean annual wage for electrical line workers was $55,860, according to the BLS' Occupational Employment Statistics survey. The median wage was slightly higher, at $56,670. During the same period, telecommunications linemen earned a mean annual wage of $48,310 and a median wage of $49,110, according to the OES survey.
The electric power generation industry employs the largest number of electrical linemen, paying them a mean annual wage of $59,100 as of May 2009. Natural gas distributors pay the highest mean annual wage -- $78,770. Wired telecommunications carriers employ most telecommunications linemen; this industry pays them a mean annual wage of $52,330. Satellite telecommunications company pay the highest mean wages to telecommunications linemen, at $60,030.
Four of the top-five-paying metropolitan areas for electrical linemen are in California. In Stockton, California, electrical linemen earn a mean annual wage of $85,020; mean annual wages are $80,000 or more in the top-five metropolitan areas for electrical linemen. According to 2009 OES salary data, Fairbanks, Alaska, pays the highest wage to telecommunications linemen, at $64,580 per year. Three of the top-five paying metropolitan areas are in Massachusetts; salaries in the top-five-paying metropolitan areas for telecommunications linemen are $62,000 per year or greater.
The BLS explains that most job growth for electrical and telecommunications linemen will result from a need to replace workers who retire from the occupation. An additional factor impacting job growth is the increase in population size, which means that more lines need to installed and maintained. For linemen in both categories, membership in a union provides good benefits and set wages that increase with experience.