P.U.D. Lineman's Apprentice test recap

so i cut my NY vacation short by a day; came back early to take the P.U.D. Lineman's Apprentice test. spent 17 hrs on the road / in the air, and got home about 12:30am this morning. i got a good night's sleep in my own bed (which i never appreciate properly until it's not present) and was at their Everett training facility about 40 minutes early, the first to arrive in my group. evidently they'd been testing all day, and had one group left following my group of 30, about 220 people total. the prevailing wisdom of the other applicants was that 7 in-house people had applied for the position (they have to go through the same process), and that "everyone that applied" for the position was allowed to take the earlier written test. i doubt the latter is true, since i know at least one person who applied for an identical position with Tacoma Power who has a fair amount of electrical experience that wasn't moved forward to the written test...but that's what was going around, anyway.

being first to arrive put me first in line for everything among my group- which earned me a big fat slip of paper with "#1" printed on it, and sort of marked me among the group. don't mind admitting i was just a tiny bit nervous, but i wasn't the only one with a butterfly or two, and some guys were visibly stressed.

eventually things got underway, and they took us all in a room and explained the testing procedures in detail.

first came a 3-part strength/physical fitness test: chin-ups, "upright-rows" with a 50-pound barbell, and a grip test measured in kg/sq inch. each part had a bare minimum score required to continue at all, a passing score, and a maximum score. people were awarded 60 pts for the minimum, 70 for passing, and (according to the paperwork, anyway) additional points for exceeding the passing mark up to 90 pts for the maximum. you needed an average score of 70 pts for all three test to move on to the 2nd test, climbing a pole, etc. i expected to do pretty well at this stuff, and was surprised at how difficult it was, especially running through all the tests in rapid succession. i was also surprised that they performed each test in a separate room, one person at a time- probably to take some of the pressure off.

here's how it went:

chin-ups: min 1, pass 2, max 9 - i did 6. could've taken my work boots off and dropped a few pounds, maybe gotten one more, but 6 was alright. they only gave me 70 pts, rather than something between the passing 70 and maximum of 90.

upright rows: min 5, pass 9, max 24 - i did 22. again, they scored me only 70 pts, rather than something between 70 and 90. this meant i needed a passing score on the grip test to continue.

grip test: min 39, pass 43, max 58 - i got 44 with each hand. again, scored 70 pts. realized afterward that i could have made a couple more attempts with each hand, but typically those scores go down (they'd keep the maximum with each hand), so i probably wouldn't have done much better, without adjusting the device somewhat. the testing guys were in a hurry and trying to rush things along, and they acted as though i did well enough, and sort of pushed me through to signing off on my results and moving on, so i just went with the flow.

of the 30 guys in my group, 7 didn't make it past those tests.

after that, i had to wait for everyone else to finish before we all watched a video on what we needed to do with the pole, then we all moved outside, where they tested 4 people at a time.

we got harnessed up and headed out for the poles. we tied off to a fall arrestor (sort of a steel-line seatbelt clipped to the back of a climbing harness), put on gloves, a hardhat, safety glasses and a lineman's belt (to go with our mandatory long pants, long-sleeve shirt and ankle-high-or-better work boots), and headed for the poles.

the poles had arms about every 3 feet, with 45-degree bases near the pole, they were 60 feet high, with 10 feet in the ground, and we needed to climb up to the 2nd brace before the top one, about 40 feet. there a lineman in a bucket truck would clip on the strap that goes around the pole to both sides of the belt, and you had to release the pole with both arms, leaning back to let the belt hold you, proving you can deal with the height and trust the safety gear. then you had to move out on the brace and perform a crimping task with a large 2-handed crimper, proving ability to perform tasks under the same condition, then hand the tool back to the lineman and climb down. the entire thing was timed, no more than 6 minutes allowed. you couldn't drop anything or fall, or you were disqualified. i completed the whole process in about 2.5 to 3 minutes.

all in all, i'd say i did at least average. it was hard to tell, and i didn't spend a lot of time trying to pry anyone else's results out of them.

there were a lot of electrical workers in my group; one particular guy i talked with came all the way from Kansas to participate, and he's already a lineman's apprentice on a non-union crew. like a lot of people there, he had a lot of directly relevant experience, so i'm guessing i would have needed to perform pretty outstandingly to move on in the process- but you never know.

i should get my results in a couple weeks, and find out if i move ahead to the next phase, an actual interview. i suppose it's possible there may be more than one interview.

so, that's my Saturday afternoon :) thanks to everyone who wished me luck, i'll post my results when i get them!


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