An Entergy employee works to repair power lines in the Lakeview section of New Orleans in October 2005.
An Entergy employee works to repair power lines in the Lakeview section of New Orleans in October 2005. - 
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TEXT OF STORYMARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Are you looking for a job that doesn't require a college degree, pays well and offers some, well, "towering" views? Try your local electric utility. Sarah Gardner says lineman and others who keep the lights on are retiring in big numbers.


SARAH GARDNER: Over the next five to 10 years, about half the power industry's workforce will be eligible for retirement.

That's nearly 200,000 people — everybody from linemen to power plant operators.

Jim Hunter at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers says those Baby Boomer retirements are coming as power demand is growing.

JIM HUNTER: Our electric system in the United States has an average age of 40 years for a transformer. Many of those transformers have a 40-50 year life expectancy. So there's a massive construction boom that's going to be needed to keep our infrastructure up.

Hunter predicts longer power outages if the industry can't fill the worker pipeline.

Many utilities cut their workforces and training programs when the industry deregulated in the '90s. Now some of them are launching massive hiring campaigns and working with trade schools to attract young workers.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

Follow Sarah Gardner at @RadioGardner