The Average Wage for a Helicopter Electrical Lineman

by Mary Tucker-McLaughlin; Updated September 26, 2017
It's risky for helicopters to fly near power lines, but for some it's part of the job.

Helicopter linemen, also referred to as aerial linemen, perform high-risk maintenance on power lines from a cable attached to a helicopter. The salary range varies, but the median range of pay is approximately $49,000 per year. Aerial linemen perform duties similar to regular linemen but are facilitated by helicopters.


As a helicopter lineman, you can expect to make between $49,000 and $57,000 per year, or a little over $27 per hour as of July 2011. The pay rate is similar for linemen who do not use aerial techniques for repairing wires but climb the poles instead. Many of the lineman positions are with larger companies, including utility companies. These companies offer competitive benefits packages including retirement, medical, dental and vision insurance.


You may repair power lines while dangling from the helicopter cable, sitting on the skid of the helicopter or even climbing onto the live wire itself. These wires can have as much as 345,000 volts running through them at any given time. Repairs often involve an industry technique called " bare handing," which allows the lineman to actually handle the live wire while wearing a special metal fiber suit.


You must be adequately trained as a helicopter lineman in specialized areas of high voltage equipment. Linemen are often required to lift in excess of 75 lbs. from floor to waist and waist to overhead. Sustaining awkward positions/postures, including bending and twisting at the waist and neck, reaching forward, to the side, across the body and overhead, is a regular part of this job. Linemen need a forceful grip, and balancing on one or both legs during dynamic activities is particularly relevant for helicopter linemen. Certification is required for some positions, but college isn't required in most cases.


Helicopter or aerial linemen must have both physical and mental dexterity. The physical demands, as well as the mental pressure to perform under such dangerous conditions, are not for everyone. Training for these types of positions is specialized. Although the pay rate is high compared to most positions, which do not require post secondary education, the risks are enormous. Electrical fatalities are a major cause of occupational death in the U.S. The fatality rate for electrical linemen of any type is 50 per 100,000. Anyone considering this type of position should weigh the salary against the inherent dangers of the position.

About the Author

As an educator, television producer and public relations/human resources professional, Mary Tucker-McLaughlin's work has been broadcast on radio and television with affiliates in the Midwest and the South since 1992. Her work has also been published in the "St. Louis Suburban Journals." Tucker-McLaughlin is an assistant professor in eastern North Carolina with a Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of South Carolina.

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