Our Linemen are vital because they keep the power flowing. They are a specialized team trained to install and maintain high-voltage transmission and distribution lines that transport electricity from utility-operated power plants to your home and businesses across San Diego County. In our latest employee spotlight series, we are featuring employees who earned the honor of Apprentice of the Year during the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ 2022 graduation ceremony earlier this year.
Journeyman Lineman Justin Johnson didn’t always want to be a lineman. In fact, he declined the opportunity in 2014 because he wasn’t especially fond of heights. He initially chose to pursue a career that would have him climbing the corporate ladder instead of a 30 to 100-foot-tall utility pole.
Fast forward to now, and Justin has distinguished himself in his chosen career of a Lineman by being recognized as one of the 2022 IBEW graduate “Apprentices of the Year.”
Multitalented, Justin had many career opportunities to consider.
“I grew up in Los Angeles and played sports my whole life and focused solely on football once I started high school,” Justin explains. “I attended St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California. After a successful high school career, I landed a scholarship at Fresno State where I played football for four years, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Sports Marketing. I decided against further pursuit of a football career and accepted a managerial position at a major retailer. I later decided to go to Northwest Lineman College to get a first-hand introduction to the trade.”
“I first heard about the work of linemen from my father,” recalls Justin. “Being an LA County firefighter, he worked alongside Edison troubleshooters and saw first-hand the incredible tasks linemen performed daily.”
Justin’s family is quite familiar with careers serving the community. In addition to his firefighter father, Justin’s mother is a dispatcher for the California Highway Patrol and his stepmother serves as a probation officer for Los Angeles County.
“While working as an apprentice, I realized that my many years as a wide receiver on the football field serve me well in my career as a lineman. I have applied those same performance expectations of being dependable, quick on my feet and adjusting on the run in my role here at SDG&E. Those skill have helped me significantly.”
One of the many reasons the career of Journeyman Lineman appeals to Justin is that there are no ordinary days – every day is extraordinary. During power outages and weather events, Justin remains on high alert, ready to go wherever he’s needed to help repair equipment to restore energy to impacted customers.
“As a Lineman, my day- to-day can range anywhere from inspections around the city to emergency pole change outs. I find the pole change outs most exciting because I am able to utilize my skills, and I feel accomplished when I see the fruits of my labor,” said Justin. “I really enjoy seeing the results of our team’s efforts when we are done with any job, big or small. It’s amazingly gratifying.”
Since making his decision to follow the Journeyman Lineman career path, Justin continues to commit himself to learning all he can about electrical theory so he can not only excel in his career, but also offer mentorship to those joining the trade behind him.
“When I left my job in management, I told myself that I wanted a job where I would have to start from the bottom and work my way up. The reason behind this is if I decide to climb the ladder either on the company side or the line side (my options are still open) I would know what is expected of everyone below me because I had done the work and would know what it takes to be successful.”
As to whether he made the best career choice, Justin has no doubt. “I have grown to love this trade,” he says.
Justin thanks everyone that has supported him in his efforts and looks forward to their continued support as he progresses in the trade and in the company.
One thing he wants prospective linemen to know: “It’s more than a job; it’s a lifestyle and well worth the effort!”