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Utility Line Work - Construction and Maintenance

Build your knowledge of the systems and computer controls, safety training and environmental awareness needed to work as a Powerline Technician.

A man in overalls and a hard hat is standing in a utility truck's bucket, approaching a utility pole.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
1 Year

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Are you a team player with good hand-eye coordination? Do you value job safety? Are you comfortable with heights? These are a few of the strengths you will need to succeed in this line of work. The generation, transmission and distribution of electric power integrates mechanical, advanced electrical and electronic systems, computer controls and professional skills.

You learn:

  • Safety and environmental awareness
  • Electrical technology
  • Computer utilization and communications that meet international standards

Work experience

  • Work placement is a mandatory credit course, providing the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
    • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work placements are your responsibility.
  • For more information visit Work Experience Opportunities.

Choose NSCC

  • This is a highly innovative program of study that delivers comprehensive training by experienced faculty.
  • You apply the theory at an outdoor, on-campus training facility provided by NSCC and the industry.
  • This program places a high importance on providing you with skills and knowledge to work safely in industry. To prepare for employment, you participate in safety awareness courses.

Other info

  • Well-qualified applicants are team players, comfortable working at heights and in extreme conditions, have excellent hand-eye coordination, have an aptitude for mechanics and are able to physically perform strenuous activities that the trade requires (e.g., lifting, pulling and climbing).
  • Employers may require you to have (or obtain) a Class 3 driver's licence with air brake endorsement. In addition, some employers may require clean drivers abstract.
  • Many employers in this industry require a current, official criminal record check as part of the hiring process. A conviction on your criminal record may impact your ability to secure employment.
  • Industrial safety standards require that you have adequate vision and colour perception to operate safely, in the shop and in the field, while performing tasks of the trade.

2022-23 programs

Program delivery may be subject to change based on Public Health guidelines.

September 2022

Campus Location Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Cumberland Campus Springhill Full time In person Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements. Waitlist

Admission requirements

  • High School Graduation Diploma or equivalent, including Academic Grade 12 Math.
    • International students – High school diploma equivalency and English language requirements vary by country. View details
  • Qualified applicants (with complete applications) will be invited to an interview at the campus. Please be advised that candidates will be required to present a cover letter and resume at the time of the interview. Interviews are scheduled at the campus four times per year (fall, winter, spring, summer). The purpose of the interview is to:
    • Ensure you've researched this trade and have an understanding of the knowledge and skills that will be required for this unique training
    • Give you an opportunity to meet with industry partners to determine whether the program is a good fit for your interests
  • Your complete application must be received by June 1, 2022 to guarantee consideration for September 2022.
  • If you do not have the required academic credits, NSCC offers a variety of credit courses through the Academic and Career Connections program.

Program requirements

  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

This program is not offered at regular NSCC tuition.

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for college services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Graduates find employment in many occupations related to the industrial, commercial and construction trades and technologies. They're line technicians, arborists, technical sales and service representatives, and equipment operation and maintenance technicians.
  • Learn more about labour market information. Visit Career Options

Future study options

  • This program is a first step towards certification in the Powerline Technician trade.
  • To become certified in the Powerline Technician trade, you must register as an apprentice with Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency (NSAA). Once registered, you can transfer credit from this program towards your apprenticeship.
  • Certification with a Red Seal – Powerline Technician is a designated trade in Nova Scotia. Graduates who complete an apprenticeship program in this trade are eligible to write the provincial certification exam, receive their certification and Red Seal. The Red Seal allows certified tradespersons to practise the trade in any province or territory in Canada – where the trade is designated – without having to write further examinations.

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you can apply to earn credit. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

SAFE 1020 - Introduction to Confined Space
The learner is introduced to the basic requirements and procedures involved with confined spaces. The definition and associated hazards of confined space are discussed as well as methods of confined space rescue. The course material is to be infused throughout the curriculum and may be delivered in the classroom, shop or other opportunity as designed and developed by the instructor.

SAFE 1021 - Introduction to Hazard Identification
The learners are introduced to the types of hazards encountered in workplaces and the approach that should be followed when recommending and implementing appropriate controls. Two key elements of Hazard Identification are addressed: Hazard Assessment and Inspection. The Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act is discussed. The course material is to be infused throughout the curriculum and may be delivered in the classroom, shop or other opportunity as designed and developed by the instructor.

SAFE 1023 - Introduction to Lock-out Tag Out
Lock-out Tag Out introduces the learner to the hazards related to energized systems and procedures to ensure worker safety. Related legislation and risk management is discussed and the learner is exposed to the various types of lock-out devices. The course material is to be infused throughout the curriculum and may be delivered in the classroom, shop or other opportunity as designed and developed by the instructor.

SAFE 1025 - Certified Fall Arrest and Protection
This course provides participants with an understanding of the hazards associated with working from heights and compliance with Workplace Health and Safety Regulations (2013). Throughout the course, participants will gain experience in the donning of a harness, an overview and presentation of system components involved when working from heights and learn how to complete a fall calculation and emergency procedures.

UTLW 1000 - Safety and Due Diligence
The learner is introduced to the principles of the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act (NSOHSA) as applied to the Utility Line Work field, as well as the knowledge and skills that is required to work safely in the real world environment. This course covers specific safety regulations and emphasizes the care and application of personal protective equipment as well as other safety concerns such as fire safety, confined spaces, work site cleanliness, traffic control, public safety awareness and the proper maintenance and storage of safety equipment.

UTLW 1001 - Applied Mathematics and Electrical Theory I
This course includes a renewal and establishment of applied mathematical skills in preparation for the physical and electrical applications within the Powerline Industry. The learner will perform arithmetic and generalized mathematics to capture the quantitative aspects of electrical theory to inform their appreciation and scrutinize their understanding of the physical world in general and of electrical applications in particular and lay a foundation for further professional development within the electrical / communications field. The course includes topics of basic algebra, geometry, systems of equations, analytic geometry, vectors and phasors through to the examination of various functions including trigonometric. Study of atomic structure will lead to the examination of direct current, voltage, resistance and power, and their relationship within various circuit configurations. Energy, force, power and dimension will be related to the more physical aspects of the Lineworker’s trade. Alternating current theory will be introduced through a comparison with DC theory augmented with the concepts of magnetic and electric fields as well as its generation and distribution. Topics include inductance, time constants, power factor, voltage drop and line losses.

UTLW 1002 - Ropes, Rigging and Personal Tools
In this course, learners will demonstrate an understanding of basic ropes and rigging practices used in industry. The learners will identify and apply safety factors, type and construction of rope and slings, upkeep, and proper storage. The importance of safe use of tools and equipment utilized in the field will be stressed throughout the program. This course will cover fall arrest systems and uses, and the regulations requiring their utilization. Learners will demonstrate the ability to test poles for safety regarding climb ability, climb poles and perform a variety of tasks while aloft. Learners will demonstrate the ability to perform one-person pole-top rescue. Throughout the course, learners will apply the knowledge and required skills to practical training and tasks facilitating the outdoor training facility.

UTLW 1003 - Utility Vehicles and Equipment
Learners will be introduced to the basic operating principles hydraulically powered equipment in accordance with standard work procedures and National Safety Code (NSC). The components and operation of the digger derrick (RBD) and aerial personnel devices will be covered, including load charts and safety components. Learners will use the outdoor training areas to train in the daily operation of equipment, including hardware installation, bucket rescue and evacuation.

UTLW 1004 - Utility Materials and Equipment
This course prepares the learner in the proper techniques to erect powerline poles and to apply framing materials on those poles. The learner will be given the opportunity to use to the various types of specialty tools used in the utility line industry including hot-line tools, voltage/amp/ohm meters, ladders and aerial personnel devices. This course will provide safety instruction and practical training on the operation of chain saws. Activities will be carried out in the outdoors training facilities.

UTLW 1005 - Line Protection and Grounds
This course will introduce the learner to the various types of equipment installed on transmission and distribution systems to provide line and electrical equipment protection from fault currents, including voltage control equipment, reclosers, switches and fuse protection. This course covers the selection, application, and maintenance of temporary grounds and equipotential shunts according to the Standard Protection Code. The outdoor training facility will be extensively utilized throughout this course.

UTLW 1006 - Conductors, Cables and Wires
This course introduces the various types and sizes of conductors and messenger/support wires utilized in overhead distribution and communication systems. The types of wire used in guying/support will also be covered, as well as the various standards applicable to the industry. The course will cover the basics of conductor installation and insulation, as well as the physical weights and tensions that may be applied to line structures and equipment.

UTLW 1007 - Transformer Theory and Application
This course covers the fundamentals of single-phase transformer theory, including operation, installation and connecting, loading, and schematic diagrams used within the powerline industry. Also covered is the relationship between voltage, amperage, and power to the operation and connection of single-phase distribution transformers. The awareness of possible back-feed occurrences, and the hazards associated with back-feed, will be stressed throughout this course, and, as with all safety issues, will be stressed throughout the program. Also covered are the hazards associated with transformers that may have been involved in a fault or may have shorted. The outdoor training facility will be utilized throughout the course.

UTLW 1008 - Service Entrance and 3-Wire Systems
The learner is introduced to the installation of three-wire service entrances in accordance with industry distribution standards. The requirements of services in regards to length, size of conductor, voltage, amperage, and type of entrance are discussed as well as the inspection of temporary service entrances to ensure personal and public safety and reliable electric power supply to the customer. The outdoor training facility will be utilized to demonstrate the installation and removal of service conductors, stressing the importance of safety and electrical continuity on the system neutral.

UTLW 1010 - Professional Powerline Technician I
This course is designed to introduce the powerline industry to learners. Through the application of communication and professional conduct skills, learners will experience various aspects of the powerline industry that are required of new employees within this trade environment.

UTLW 1015 - Powerline Practical Applications
This course is designed to apply theoretical program knowledge into practical work application. Learners will have the opportunity to practice and/or apply strategies and techniques learned in the classroom to actual industry projects. These tasks will be achieved through a variety of work site activities with a combination of pole yard training and service learning applications.

UTLW 1020 - Professional Powerline Technician II
This course is designed to expand upon the critical professional and communication skills entry level employers require to gain entry into the powerline industry.

UTLW 1100 - Work Experience
The work experience component provides the learner with an opportunity to apply new skills and concepts appropriate for entry-level positions within the Utility Line Work field. Learners will assess their own performance and be evaluated by an industry partner. Learners will identify personal outcomes they wish to attain during the work experience and will keep a journal.

UTLW 2001 - Applied Mathematics and Electrical Theory II
This course is a continuation of UTLW 1001 (Applied Mathematics and Electrical Theory I) and will further develop alternating current theory through a closer examination of the combined effects of electrical and magnetic fields already introduced as well as its generation and distribution. Topics include inductance, capacitance, time constants, power factor, voltage drop, line losses as well as transformer theory. Energy, force, power and dimension will be related to the more physical aspects of the powerline industry.

WORK 1100 - Workplace Mentoring I
This unit of instruction is designed to assist learners in managing their learning as an apprentice in the workplace. Learners will study their own experiences with learning new skills and identify their own learning preferences as an aid to developing learning strategies.

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