Do you need to go to school to be a Utility Locating Technician?

A school for locating will offer training and certifications, but none will offer a college degree specifically available for a career in locating utilities at this point. It also should be noted that there isn’t a national standardized certification for locating technicians. However, there is training and certification that does pertain to locating that adequately equips someone to perform locates. Typically, the locating company that hires you will train you in the first several weeks. They might even pay to have you certified in a particular area, or provide certification themselves.utility locating school


Each state in the United States has its own set of laws for digging and excavating. This is true in other countries as well such as Canadian provinces and territories.  Local municipalities will also have their own policies on how to best locate their specific utility.  So locate companies have to craft their own company policies that reflect their state laws and local policies.  That is why you will be trained (or retrained) by the company that hires you since they are liable if there is any damage that would occur due to neglect.


Locating schools will offer Classroom Training


You will also be trained on locating theory in the classroom, and then in-the-field training with actual locating equipment. Electromagnetic detection equipment is typically used in locating utilities. There is also an increased amount of attention to have training on ground penetrating radar since that is an advanced (and more accurate) locating method.


Locating theory will be taught in the classroom, and will be centralized around the physics of electromagnetism. You will not be required to know the theories at an advanced or academic level, but basic familiarity with the principles is the goal for all utility locating technicians.  Understanding the theories will allow you use your equipment better since you will need to make judgement calls while in the field of where the utility is located.


Locating schools will offer Field Training


Field training will consist of you traveling to different sites to work alongside a trainer to apply the concepts you learned in the classroom. Training will involve knowing your equipment in depth and being able to troubleshoot any misreadings or malfunctions. You will be trained on using the best practices and latest methods in achieving the most accurate locate.


Certifications in the United States


Recommended certifications to perform locates in the United States could include: OSHA Space Confined Entry certification (entry into manholes), OSHA Competent Person (on excavation sites), API WorkSafe (petroleum pipe safety), Loss Prevention System training, UULLA certification (leak location), OSHA HazMat and HAZWOPER certification (Hazardous waste and emergency response).  These safety/skill certifications are pretty standard for those working in the construction related industry. There are many providers for these safety/skill certifications including those available online.


This is a relatively new trade/career so it can be expected that it would lack standardization in regards to training or certification. Either way, the utility locating technician is someone that not only has to be aware of the company policies (that include state laws and local utility policies), but they also must be trained on how to use their locate equipment properly. While there is no formal degree for locating utilities – there is professional certification available will definitely help you get a job and function well as a utility locating technician.