Journeyman Lineman Rick Soto says during storm restorations, it feels great to help others in need.

Spotlight on the Line Trade: Rick Soto, E-J Electric

Jan. 21, 2022
Journeyman Lineman Rick Soto says during storm restorations, it feels great to help others in need.
  • Born in Manhattan, New York, and has a younger sister.
  • Married to his wonderful wife, Kaitlynn. They are expecting a baby girl in April.
  • Inspired by his parents, who have been married for 36 years. He says he is grateful for all their love and support.
  • Is the first lineman in his family.Enjoys working around the house and starting new projects such as painting, carpentry and lawn care. He also likes four wheeling and visiting the gun range.
  • Can’t live without a sharp knife for quickly skinning all types of wire, and battery-operated power tools like drills, cutters and crimpers

Early Years

Seven years ago, my good friend, Karl, told me about line work. I was in desperate need for a career change, and I feel forever indebted to Karl for taking the time to help and guide me into this trade. It has completely changed my life for the better. My first job in this trade was working distribution for Thirau Utilities in Queens, New York. As a brand new apprentice, I didn’t have the slightest clue about what I needed to do. Thankfully, all the linemen in Local 3 immediately took me in as one of their own and began teaching and showing me how to prepare the materials needed for any job, how to operate a bucket truck, skin wire and much more.

Day in the Life

As a journeyman lineman, my typical day includes waking up at 3:15 a.m., arriving at the yard by 6 a.m., and then getting to the job site by 8 a.m. The variety of different tasks in this scope is one of the things I love the most because it keeps the job exciting. Right now, we are replacing undersized or damaged poles, installing new aerial cable and upgrading to newer and larger capacity transformers.

Challenges and Rewards

I truly love what I do, and the friendships I have made in the trade are priceless. At the same time, however, linemen face many hazards like possibly falling from extreme heights, electrocution or worse. Each move is crucial. One mistake can result in accidentally hurting yourself or your partner. Another challenge is the weather. We work in hot summer days and the cold of winter. It is also difficult trying to juggle being a good lineman and a good family man. Due to my lengthy commute, long hours and occasional travel for storm work, I spend more time in my bucket truck than I do at home.

Safety Lesson

The importance of safety is always a number one priority for us. It is drilled into us the moment we enter the apprenticeship program, but unfortunately, every now and then, you hear about a serious injury or fatality that seriously hits home. Whether you have personally known them and worked alongside them or not, hearing about any injury or fatality is never easy to process. I reflect on how dangerous our job could be and just how delicate all our lives really are and how important safety needs to be.

Memorable Storm

I’ll never forget the very first storm I ever went on. I was new in the trade and unfamiliar with the process of storm work. When I got a call that we were being mobilized for a storm, I packed a bag and hurried back to the yard, not knowing how long I would be away from home, exactly where I would be staying or what I would encounter when I got there. It all added to the thrill of that first storm moment for me. It lasted two weeks, and luckily, we had good working conditions. The utility was grateful to us for answering their call for help.

Career-Defining Moment

When I topped out as a journeyman lineman, it was so memorable because I worked so hard and sacrificed so much in the apprenticeship. To get to the finish line and see it all pay off has been one of my proudest moments so far.

Life in the Trade

I would absolutely go into the power industry if I had to do it over again. It has challenged me and changed my life in so many ways. It has provided me with a great quality of life and meaningful friendships I will have the rest of my life. I feel like line work has so many divisions and aspects to it that there is always something to learn.

Future Plans

I plan to continue to educate myself about the different aspects of my trade to help me grow to be a better lineman and hone my skills. Another one of my goals is to learn leadership skills from my mentor, Bladimir, who is by far the best lineman I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

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