Is Public Utilities A Good Career Path

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Are you considering a career in public utilities?

Do you want to learn more about jobs in the utility industry?

Well, we got you covered! This article features everything you need to know about a career in public utilities – including salaries and career paths you can take. As an industry that is responsible for supplying essential services to the public, these are jobs that are incredibly important to our way of life. Working in the utility industry can bring a lot of security, opportunity, and variety of work that can be exciting (and a bit scary too).

So, let’s get started and see what working in the public utility sector is like!

What Are Public Utilities?

Every one of us will use some type of public utility every day – even if we do not realize it. It takes a lot of different organizations and people to keep these utilities running for the public to use.

Public utilities can include water, gas, phone, or electricity.

Imagine living day to day without those modern day services! Without utility workers we would not have access to these utilities.

Is Public Utilities A Good Career Path?

Yes, public utilities is a good career path that offers job security, above average wages, benefits, and advancement opportunities.

There is definitely no shortage of skilled trade jobs in the public utilities sector. But, there is also so many other jobs available which can include administrative, marketing, engineering, and so much more.

While they may not seem to provide essential services that are important as the skilled trades, without that support staff, those utility workers could not do what they do!

water treatment plant in public utilities

Public Utilities Sector Options

Many of the career paths available require skills in repair, maintenance, installation, and production of a variety of different utilities.

Below are a few of the most common niches within this sector.

Natural Gas

Many homes and businesses are heated with natural gas, but not many think about how it actually gets there. Natural gas is extracted from deposits that lie deep underground and is then transported through pipelines. From there it goes through a process with a local company that will prepare it for deliver to their customers.

In natural gas you may find yourself working in distribution, on a pipeline, or in your local government.

Electric Power

Imagine having no internet! Well, if you did not have any electrical power – you would have to learn to live in the literal dark ages.

Electricity is a necessity these days, and working in the electrical segment of public utilities means you will be making quite an impact. Not only can you work on the consumer side of things – you can also work within other utility segments to help keep the electricity working. With the growing interest in electricity generation to replace coal, there are many different types of work you can get into within this niche.

Water Supply

We should never take for granted the clean water we get to clean, bathe, and cook with. The companies that work with water help treat it so it meets specific guidelines and helps keep the distribution of the water “flowing” to our homes and businesses.

Sewage Removal

Probably one of the dirtiest options in the public utilities sector is sewage removal. Those that work in this area will be responsible for what is going on our sewage treatment plants in and our sewer systems. Daily work will include collecting waste and then apply treatments to it so it can be disposed of without harming our environment.

Related: Are basic industries careers a good path?

Types of Jobs In The Public Utility Industry

It would be almost impossible to list every singly job you might find in the utilities industry. But we are profiling some of the most common trade jobs that you might want to consider.

Skilled Trade Careers

These careers do not require any advanced degrees, but might require some training or certification. Many are considered part of the manufacturing sector which can be an exciting industry for those that love to build and create.

Meter Readers / Utility Markers

Both of these jobs will have workers in the field and often working solo, so if you are an introvert – these are some great options for you. Meter readers will go to homes and businesses and do meter readings so they can determine how much utility usage a location has. Utility markers will go around and mark the ground to show where underground lines may be for potential construction work.

If you are curious about the utility marker path, check out our interview with Marco – a new utility marker just starting his new career!

Wind Turbine Technician

One of our top picks for careers in the public utilities industry is as a wind turbine technician. As an emerging career in the electric power sector, there is an expected growth of jobs of 68% through 2030. And with median salaries of $55k, there is a good living to be made. Many of these technicians can make over 100K annually.

But, you will need to be a bit of a risk taker since these jobs can take you to some scary heights. So these jobs are definitely for the public utilities workers that are fearless!

is public utilities a good career path, wind turbine technician

Electricians

Electricians are always needed in so many different sectors of work, public utilities are no different.

Using testing instruments you might check on the installed electrical equipment to make sure they are functioning property. Or, you may have to help determine when new electrical updates are needed and assist in acquiring new hardware.

Learn more about metal fabrication careers.

Plumber / Steamfitter

Plumbers, steamfitters, and other relevant professionals in the utility industries have so many options. Working with steam or water would be the two strongest options, but there is room for them in other types of trades in utilities as well.

Utility Manager

If you want to grow and expand your career, then looking towards the future as a utility manager is a great step to work towards. Utility managers are the people who manage staff, create budgets, and oversee the overall health and wellness of different public utility facilities like power plants. Skilled utility managers are needed by most major utility companies, so if you have great management skills, then this is a great path to consider within the industry.

Water Treatment Plant Operator

Working in these plants means you will be part of the team that cleans the community water. Pretty important work right?

Water treatment plant operators will run the machinery and monitor the processes used to make our water clean to drink and use for washing and bathing.

Other Utilities Careers

There are so many opportunities to work in utilities. If a trade job is not your thing, here are a few other options for you which include support occupations, marketing careers, and finance.

Administration

If you love organizing and want to support workers that make our world a better place, being a part of an administrative team may be a perfect fit.

Your responsibilities may include things like bookkeeping, scheduling, filing, or completing paperwork. Essentially you will be the key to a smooth running office and support upper level management.

Customer Service

If you are a people pleaser, then a customer service position is a great chance to make people happy. You will spend your days helping customers deal with issues that they may be having with their utilities. Scheduling appointments for repairs, installations, or deactivations will be a big part of your job.

Auditing/Accounting

More advanced financial needs may need more than just a bookkeeper As an auditor or accounting professional you will be crunching numbers to make sure profits are happening and that customers are being billed accordingly.

Engineers and Engineering Technicians

A key part of these jobs are the engineers. As an engineer you will assist in the creation of technologies and processes that can help improve the utilities that your organization handles.

From faster distribution to better cleaning, engineers provide a variety of services that are big contributors to the efforts of the business.

Computer Technicians

In today’s computer run world, computer specialists will be needed. Keeping the systems running, improving automation, and developing new computer systems to create better utility processes are just a few of the many jobs you may do.

Public Utilities Careers Pros and Cons

Let’s talk about some of the good – and not so good that utility workers need to deal with. Job satisfaction can range for careers in the industry based on location, type of work you do, and of course the company you decide to work with.

PROS

  • Salary. The salaries can be very high for experienced and dedicated workers.
  • Benefits. Most jobs will offer health benefits as well as other perks including vacations, sick days, etc.
  • Growth. If you are dedicated and want a path to grow, these fields can offer great opportunities.
  • Security. These jobs offer long term security ensuring you always have a paycheck coming in.

CONS

  • Injury. There is always a risk of injury, especially in the electrical sector.
  • Dirty. Some of the paths, like sewage treatment, can be pretty gross.
  • Physical. Most jobs will be very physical in nature so it is important to be in good health.
  • Environment. Many jobs will require being outside, this means working in all types of weather.

Utilities Careers Salary Information

Generally speaking, the salaries employees in the utilities industry are very good. Of course this will depend on the level of experience and type of services you will be doing. Becoming an administrative assistant for example is not going to earn as much as someone who is dealing with sewage waste.

Average annual earnings as shown by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of all public utilities employees is $96,782.00*

Now let’s look at some additional salaries.

Electric Power

Working as a power plant operator can bring you a media salary of $83,740. The top paying states include Washington, California, and New Jersey.

Natural Gas

Gas Plant Operators can make a median annual wage of $77,850. The highest earnings come from the chemical manufacturing industry and the top 3 earning states are Utah, California, and New Jersey.

Water Treatment

The average annual median salary for all jobs in the water treatment career path is $52,320. Jobs that are in the waste treatment and disposal can earn more than some of the other jobs. The 3 top paying states include District of Columbia, Washington, and Nevada.

So, as you can see – the salaries in the utilities industry are pretty good!

Public Utility Companies To Work For

The public utilities industry may include companies that are in public or private utilities . These utility companies can be either local or regional and can offer a lot of job prospects for all skill levels.

You might start with your local electrical company or water company to see the job opportunities they offer. Of course you can always move to areas that might have more opportunities than your local community might have if you are looking for a change!

Is A Public Utilities Career Right For You?

So, what do you think?

Is public utilities a good career path for you? You will need to be OK to attending some type of trade school and getting certified. Having a passion for the industry and wanting to improve your skills can reward you greatly as you grow!

Many public utilities workers do start their careers in entry-level positions. This can be during or after attending a trade school. But, do not let this be a deterrent. Careers as public utility workers take experience and time to learn. Be patient, learn all you can during that entry-level period of time and you will be on your way to a great career path and some high paying jobs.

With long-term growth, fair wages, and good benefits, the public utilities career path can definitely be a good one! So, we hope you might give it some consideration.

*data from BLS.gov

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