Is public utilities a good career path? If you enjoy serving people and changing lives, you should probably consider applying for a job in public utilities. The industry offers opportunities in a wide range of professions, and you definitely won’t miss your match. Ensuring your community leads a comfortable life and getting paid for it is satisfying for most kind-hearted people.
Public utilities provide a good career path whereby individuals work with the government and communities in ensuring the delivery of basic services such as water, gas, and electricity. Indeed, careers in this field are quite rewarding in terms of pay, growth/development, and job satisfaction.
The career you choose affects your quality of life in a world increasingly focusing on work-life balance and mental health, and the question of how to pick a career requires consideration of many factors. You might find this post helpful if you are looking for a public utility job or want to change your career.
What do public utilities jobs pay?
After spending a significant part of your life in school and investing many resources in education, everyone looks forward to a well-paying job. Public utilities provide jobs in all professions ranging from engineers to communication experts to managers.
A utility operator’s salary varies depending on the job. If you are fresh from college, you will likely land an entry-level job with a lower salary. However, this should not discourage you as these industries offer good career advancement opportunities and job security. On average, employees in public utilities take home approximately $47.34 per hour.
In the United States, public utilities include:
- Natural gas
- Electricity companies
- Telephone companies
- Water companies
- Sanitation and waste disposal companies
Statistics show that there are 675,775 employees in the utility industry in the United States as of July 2022. The number of people working in the sector has been continually on the rise with an increasing need for service provision. Within this large sector, there are many different career options to pursue.
Utility operator jobs
The utility sector is one of the leading in employment in the United States. In 2021, the utility sector in the US had 19,830 electrical engineers, 23,000 control valve installers and repairs, 22,280 first-line supervisors/managers of mechanics, installers, and repairers, and 61,590 electrical power line installers and repairers.
Engineers are a big part of the utility sector and some of the highly paid jobs with an average salary of $100,640, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). They oversee the generation and safe distribution processes in all sectors, including natural gas, electricity, water and sanitation, and telecommunications.
There are various public utility engineering jobs ranging from entry-level to intermediate to more experienced roles. Also, the job descriptions differ from one sector to another. And they entail research, design, production, testing, and maintenance.
Engineers in this sector differ in educational qualifications, discipline, functions, and industry.
- Mechanical engineers
- Computer engineers
- Telecommunication engineers
- Civil engineers
- Nuclear engineers
- Chemical engineers
- Electrical engineers
- Environmental engineers
- Material science engineers
- Aeronautical & aerospace engineers
- Industrial engineers
Other utility operator jobs entail maintenance, installation, and repairs. They don’t have to meet the qualifications of an engineer but require technical skills, and they include: electricians, steamfitters, pipe layers and fitters, plumbers, and mechanics. Their roles vary as per the industry, and some include Installation and repair of equipment and infrastructure such as electrical power lines, industrial machinery, etc.
There are different managerial roles in the utility sector ranging from team leaders to top-level managers. Qualifications and job descriptions of managers differ depending on the nature of business and services delivered. Generally, managerial duties are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling operations within the organization.
Every organization requires managers to increase productivity by boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of labor and processes. The salary of managers in the utility sector differs based on the level and the industry. Their annual earnings range between $52,000 and $170,000. The roles of utility managers differ as follows:
· Water supply managers manage water purification and pumping processes, oversee maintenance, and prepare quality and supply reports.
· Electrical power distribution managers control power generation and distribution systems and activities within their region of operation.
· Natural gas supply managers plan and direct gas supplies to consumers, inventory, and deposits, and withdrawals.
· Petroleum product distribution managers control and oversee the distribution of heating oil products to retailers and storage sites.
· Waste systems managers control the collection and safe disposal of solid and liquid waste, and schedule staff training on the handling waste and safety.
· Water pollution control managers oversee the operations of sewage treatment plants, schedule maintenance, and prepare quality reports.
Administrative and office support utility workers
Public utilities hire customer representatives, office clerks, and administrative assistants/secretaries, among other staff that helps in the daily running of offices. Some of these jobs require high school diplomas, while others require a college education. The higher the qualification and experience requirements for the job, the higher the pay.
Every organization requires accountants to help in the making of financial decisions. And their roles may include:
· Collecting and tracking internal and external payments.
· They also correct institutional finances through audits
· The preparation of budget forecasts
· Processing of tax payments and returns
· Publishing financial statements
· Reconciling bank statements
· Managing profit and loss accounts
· Ensure compliance with financial policies and regulations
Public relations, Public Affairs, and Communication experts
Communication and public relations utility workers’ job description entails some of the following:
· Writing and production of promotional materials, speeches,
· Organizing events and press conferences
Drivers play a major role in utility organizations. The service delivery often entails picking and dropping off certain products from one point to the other. The expected salary of utility drivers is $17 per hour. The driver is expected to have the capacity to operate different types of heavy-duty vehicles, possess a commercial driver’s license, and have mechanical skills. Other skills required in these utility operator jobs are excellent communication skills and being reliable.
Duties of utility drivers include:
· Handling documents
· Planning routes
· Loading and off-loading of products
What are the best paying jobs in public utilities?
Is public utilities a good career path? It partially depends on your specific goals and skills. If you are targeting the highest paying utility jobs, you should have high educational qualifications and experience. Utility job salaries vary depending on the job grade. Basic workers earn the least pay, and the salary goes up with the middle management and top management.
Salaries for public utility employees vary based on institution and region, and here are some estimates
· Basic workers are entry-level employees whose average salary is $16 per hour and $27,000 annually.
· Middle management utility jobs are more paying, averaging $78,000 per annum, and require higher qualifications and experience.
· Upper management public utility employees earn the highest salaries of up to $150,000 per year.
What are the advantages of a career in public utilities?
· Generally, public utility jobs require low qualifications and experience. In some cases, even senior-level positions do not require work experience. And most often entry-level jobs require no educational qualifications. Closely anyone can apply for these jobs and get employed as long as they meet the requirements.
· They offer some level of job security and when working in the public utility sector; you worry less about losing your job because employees have unions that fight for their rights. The industry also provides basic needs and, in other cases, is monopolistic; thus, employees don’t have to worry about economic recess or the organization running out of business.
· Salaries in public utility are higher than those of similar roles and industries in the private sector. The higher the job requirements in terms of education and experience, the higher the remuneration.
· Entry-level utility jobs are easy to land because they are less competitive.
· Utility jobs offer excellent career progression systems for salary and positions based on employee years of experience. Through competency evaluations and advancement in education, employees can easily rise through the ranks.
· They also offer good benefits and bonuses compared to other careers. These may include special allowances, pension, paid leave, and award leaves..
· Utility industries hardly lay off employees unless found guilty of any offenses. Even though innocent employees can appeal the dismissal, defend their actions, and claim their jobs back.
· Finally, the utility operator’s salary is free of gender-based parity. Female and male employees in similar positions earn the same pay.
What are the disadvantages of a career in public utilities?
· Some utility jobs, especially those of basic workers, don’t offer advancement opportunities. And if you are looking to grow your career in the utility industry, you need to have a college education.
· High-paying utility jobs are extremely competitive
· Some utility jobs, especially smaller companies, are not as secure as they can easily go bankrupt, as recently witnessed.
· Bureaucratic restrictions and lack of flexibility might be a drawback for most people. Utility employees only work within their job requirements resulting in monotony and little motivation.
· Utility workers are often undervalued by society, and most of their jobs are not prestigious.
Is public utilities a good career path? This is not a yes or no question. Every career has advantages and disadvantages. There are many utility operator jobs with different skills and technical requirements. Only after weighing the benefits against the drawbacks can you decide if this industry would bring you the satisfaction you desire.