The public utility industry is large and widely crucial to making the world operate as it should. Electricity powers the lights in homes and businesses. More so, it is vital for those on life support that need oxygen tanks and other lifesaving systems hooked to their bodies that require electricity to make them run. So, is public utilities a good career path?
Water and piping systems assist with operating septic systems. Both systems are connected to sinks, toilets, and other water-based systems to deliver fresh water using one system and remove the waste using another system.
Are public utilities a good career path? We will evaluate the public utility industry and the 20 best-paying jobs to find out the answer.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Public Utilities?
- 2 The Current Status of the Public Utilities Industry
- 3 What Companies Can I Work For In the Public Utilities Industry?
- 4 Skills Need to Work In the Public Utilities Industry
- 5 Are Public Utilities A Good Career Path?
- 6 The 12 Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities
- 6.1 1. Hydroelectric Engineer
- 6.2 2. Radiation Engineer
- 6.3 3. Gas Controller
- 6.4 4. Energy Engineer
- 6.5 5. Nuclear Licensing Engineer
- 6.6 6. Utility Manager
- 6.7 7. Radiation Safety Officer
- 6.8 8. Electrical Engineer
- 6.9 9. Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
- 6.10 10. Substation Engineer
- 6.11 11. Power Lineman
- 6.12 12. Power Distributor
- 7 Benefits of Working in the Public Utilities Industry
- 8 Final Thoughts On A Public Utilities Career Choice
What Are Public Utilities?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines public utilities as the making, transmitting, and distributing of energy to general individuals, large companies, small businesses, and the like. Energy sources are electric, gas, and nuclear energy.
Anyone working in the sewage disposal and removal position is also considered in the public utility sector. Whether you are working with disposing of wastewater or as a sanitation representative collecting trash in the community, you will be helping to keep the local environment clean and tidy.
Water is another key utility that everyone uses daily without thinking about it. We use water to drink, take a shower, wash dishes, cook meals, and so much more. Building, maintaining, and reassuring water lines that stay within state and federal operating standards can be another possible job if you work as a public utility representative.
The Current Status of the Public Utilities Industry
Let’s evaluate the current status of the public utility industry to see if it can be a fruitful career for you.
The market size of the public utility industry is $638 billion. There are 35,667 businesses in the industry with large companies and small businesses included in this figure. With over 670,000 positions in the industry, you can find a job in public utilities anywhere nearby you.
Many companies in the industry have decarbonization plans to help distribute greener energy to their clients. In 2021’s last operating business quarter, 46 out of the 54 surveyed investor-owned utility companies said that they would work to limit carbon emissions from their company by 2050. In 2017, investor-owned electric companies serviced 72% of the overall nationwide community’s electric services. The number of investor-owned companies that delivered almost three-quarters of electric services to clients was 168, which is astounding in itself.
What Companies Can I Work For In the Public Utilities Industry?
You can work for any company affiliated with electric, gas, water, or sewage utilities. Each city and state in the nation has its own company for each of these utilities. While cities may receive energy services from a larger company, others may get it from a smaller local company in their area.
Here are the top companies that you can work with within the public utility industry based on revenue. Headquarters and number of employees information are sourced from current information via Yahoo Finance:
Revenue: $155.61 billion
Number of Employees: San Ramon, California
Chevron is one of the biggest energy resources for Australia. They also operate in the United States, Nigeria, Gulf of Mexico, Angola, and Kazakhstan. The company produces almost 3 million oil-equivalent barrels daily throughout the world. When you pass by a Texaco, Caltex, or Chevron gas station, you will contribute to their revenue when you fill up at the pump.
Revenue: $25.09 billion
Headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina
Number of Employees: 28,000
Duke Energy has three sections to their energy business. This includes commercial renewables, electric utilities and infrastructure, and gas utilities and infrastructure. The company primarily services Midwest, the Carolinas, and Florida to distribute electricity and gas to individuals and businesses. They service about 91,000 square miles of area in the nation.
Revenue: $23.1 billion in 2021
Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia
Number of Employees: 27,027
The company’s motto is “Energy for today, a plan for tomorrow.” Southern Company serves over 9 billion customers between its main company and subsidiaries as they generate and transmit different types of energy resources.
The best part is that their energy costs are even lower than the national average so you can save money on natural gas, renewable energy, and other green energy sources. Their subsidiaries primarily operate in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi to offer competitive pricing of energy for their customers.
Revenue: $20.50 billion
Headquarters: Houston, Texas
Number of Employees: 55,000
Baker Hughes separates their services into four areas for an enhanced energy services portfolio. These areas include turbomachinery and process solutions, digital solutions, oilfield equipment, and oilfield services. Many customers besides individuals and regular businesses in the community serviced are offshore and onshore industrial businesses.
Revenue: $8.1 billion in 2021
Headquarters: Houston, Texas
Number of Employees: 9,400
ConocoPhillips operates in the oil and gas industry to deliver natural gas, liquified natural gas (LNG) sources, and other gas-related energy sources to individuals and businesses throughout the nation. They dig and distribute oils such as oil sand, LNG, shale gas, and others. The oil sands assets are mainly from Canada.
Skills Need to Work In the Public Utilities Industry
A variety of soft skills are needed to work in public utilities. From verbal communication to mathematics, here are the skills you need to be successful in this industry.
Communication skills are especially needed for the public utility industry because you must interact with your team to get the job. You will not be the only one creating an electrical, gas, or another energy-related system. Each person on the team will have a specific contribution to the project.
Through each stage of a project, everyone must collaborate to get the job done. Active listening, contribution to the conversation, and overall understanding of what is being said will enhance your communication skills.
Basic Mathematics Skills
Putting together electrical systems involves basic math skills as you have to count how many of each material you will need to successfully construct the system. What can assist you in building an electrical system is writing down all the materials you need. If you have too much of one material, you can remove it from the arsenal and make note of it in your professional notebook.
Advanced Mathematics Skills
Knowing algebra and trigonometry will help you to be successful in advanced public utility industry jobs. For example, Power Lineman should refine their skills in these math areas to properly install and fix the electrical lines.
Understanding Electrical Systems
Even if you have a basic understanding of how electrical systems work when you enter the field where you can explain it in a few sentences, the HR Manager will love that you know this knowledge and are willing to learn more as you enter the industry. Study basic electrical system schematics online to get ready for the interview.
Take certification classes at your local college to show your basic knowledge of these systems. Attending a vocational school to learn electrical engineering can also enhance your knowledge.
Are Public Utilities A Good Career Path?
Considering the successful current status of the public utility industry and how it always flourishes, public utilities is a great career path to embark on. There are many opportunities for advancement in a current utility position or to change positions over time if you find a new calling in the industry.
Of course, you would want to enter the industry for more than the money. You would want to feel passion and satisfaction for doing the job every day to serve your local community. For the technical individual, you can advance in this industry. If you love putting things together, deconstructing them, and want to know more about how systems work, the public utility industry could be the right career for you.
The 12 Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities
As you evaluate whether you want to enter the public utility industry or another one, consider the best-paying jobs to get an idea of what to expect. You may just find what you are looking for from this list or it will inspire you to find the position that calls to you.
Here are the 20 best-paying jobs in public utilities based on the total mean annual income that can be potentially earned. Salary figures are sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics or ZipRecruiter.
1. Hydroelectric Engineer
Mean Annual Income: $106,535 (ZipRecruiter)
Mean Hourly Wage: $51.22
Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Water Services, Hydraulic Engineering, or Electrical Engineering; Associate’s Degree in Hydrology, Natural Sciences, or Physics
Hydroelectric Engineers oversee that different ecosystems are inoperable order as they develop and maintain them over time. They regularly inspect and evaluate how hydropower plants are operating to be sure they are within operable standards for the safety of their workers and their clients.
2. Radiation Engineer
Mean Annual Income: $101,749 (ZipRecruiter)
Mean Hourly Wage: $48.92
Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree in Physics or Engineering
Becoming a Radiation Engineer is crucial for the world. Radiation exposure can increase the risk of cancer. Radiation Engineers test how radiation affects particular areas in the community as well as equipment. They evaluate these tests to report their research to the general public. A Radiation Engineer evaluates how radiation affects certain equipment and how they continue to perform even after said exposure.
3. Gas Controller
Mean Annual Income: $98,093 (ZipRecruiter)
Mean Hourly Wage: $47.16
Education Required: High School Diploma, GED, or an Associate’s Degree in a related field; at least one to two years working in the oil industry.
Gas Controllers are essentially the quality assurance team for gas companies. They reassure that the gas does not cause any huge issues when being distributed. A Gas Controller is tasked with reframing the temperatures to make sure the boilers do not get too hot. Oil pressure and how fast it flows are also adjusted for optimal levels for operation and distribution to the client.
4. Energy Engineer
Mean Annual Income: $89,076 (ZipRecruiter)
Mean Hourly Wage: $43.00
Education Required: Associate’s Degree in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering
Being an Energy Engineer requires you to achieve complex technical skills as you will have to oversee and troubleshoot a variety of uniquely wired systems. You will work with energy storage systems and discover ways to store more energy within the said system. Because you will be working with energy resources, you will see how you can utilize the energy more efficiently while creating and distributing it to clients.
5. Nuclear Licensing Engineer
Mean Annual Income: $87,299 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Mean Hourly Wage: $38.97
Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree
A Nuclear Licensing Engineer is responsible for overseeing nuclear systems to reassure that they are operating within safety standards on the state and federal levels. They collaborate with Design Engineers to create nuclear systems and note any changes that may occur when making them.
Most Nuclear Licensing Engineer positions will be available at a nuclear power plant. Other professionals may work at a nuclear research lab to advance the field.
6. Utility Manager
Mean Annual Income: $81,196 (ZipRecruiter)
Mean Hourly Wage: $39.04
Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, Urban Planning, or Public Administration
Another name for a Utility Manager is Public Works Director. The main utility in which a Utility Manager works is water. He or she will reassure that water systems are in working order throughout their local district.
They are responsible for reassuring the water is in usable condition so that it does not contaminate people’s bodies or food. Collecting and properly disposing of wastewater is another task that a Utility Manager will oversee. Overall, distributing clean water through a safe and regulated system will be their daily goal.
7. Radiation Safety Officer
Mean Annual Income: $74,536 (ZipRecruiter)
Mean Hourly Wage: $35.83
Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences, Engineering, or Physical or Chemical Sciences
Radiation Safety Officers reassure that radioactive materials are properly used and that radioactive waste is disposed of accordingly. Any related individuals and businesses connected to the company will receive proper guidance on how to safely interact, use, store, and get rid of radioactive waste.
8. Electrical Engineer
Mean Annual Income: $63,640 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Mean Hourly Wage: $30.60
Education Required: Associate’s Degree
Electrical Engineers are responsible for developing, fixing, and maintaining various electrical equipment. They design and develop its systems and wiring for it to operate effectively. They assist in the manufacturing and testing of the electrical equipment. While Electrical Engineers may have assistants to put the equipment together, they oversee the manufacturing process to be sure it is done within company and legal standards.
9. Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
Mean Annual Income: $59,880 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Mean Hourly Wage: $28.79
Education Required: Apprenticeship
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters install and fix and maintain piping systems throughout American homes and businesses. They are in an integral position to reassure sewage systems, gas boilers, and other utility systems. These systems filter water, gas, and other solid utility sources to make a system regulated.
For example, pipefitters hooked to a home or business toilet have to take the waste to the local sewers. Pipes for a gas boiler must be affixed properly to heat a building without the gas leaking out into the area. These professionals make sure that all pipes and steamfitters affix accordingly for the safety of the client while reaping the benefit of the system’s service.
10. Substation Engineer
Mean Annual Income: $96,131
Mean Hourly Wage: $48.06
Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering or Electrical Engineering or a field closely related to these niches.
Substation Engineers are the developers behind substations. They design the substation’s cables, conduits, and other key pieces to reassure that they operate accordingly. To help the substation work correctly, they oversee engineering software while working with other members of the team to ensure that a substation functions the way it should for the safety of drivers and passengers.
11. Power Lineman
Mean Annual Income: $77,542 (ZipRecruiter)
Mean Hourly Wage: $38.97
Education Required: High School Diploma or GED; specific employers may ask that you have a college degree in a related field or a vocational certificate.
While you can start as a Power Lineman fresh out of high school, you should have soft skills such as being able to do trigonometry, and algebra, and have a basic knowledge of electric-based systems. They install power lines so electricity can pass through them to deliver energy for televisions, washing machines, dryers, and other electric-powered appliances.
12. Power Distributor
Mean Annual Income: $94,220 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Mean Hourly Wage: $45.30
Education Required: High School Diploma or GED
Another name for a Power Distributor is a Systems Operator. They reassure there is the right flow of electricity from a power distributor to the power lines so clients can get their electricity. These power distributors even help to operate large systems such as substations.
Benefits of Working in the Public Utilities Industry
The public utility industry offers many different benefits as you grow your experience. Take a look at these perks of being affiliated with the industry.
Energy resources are always needed. This is why public utilities is an industry in demand and you will have job security in your position.
Reassure to affiliate yourself with a high-income energy company or investor-owned company for even more job security. If you affiliate with a local energy startup, it may or may not succeed depending on how many energy services are needed in your local area.
If you start as a Power Lineman, you can advance to a Power Distributor or an Energy Manager over time to build your skills. Rather than climb up the ladder, you can also change positions in your affiliated company to match your niche. While you may want to start your own business to make more money, build your experience and work for a company first before leaping to a potential business owner.
On the Job Training
Since some energy positions do not require an advanced degree, you can start fresh out of high school with a low barrier to entry in the public utility industry. Whether you have a high school diploma, GED, or advanced degree, you will always receive on-the-job training to advance your skills.
You can never stop learning even as you enter the workforce. Enhancing your knowledge of green energy and other efficient ways of fulfilling your position will help you to do your job better and quicker with precision.
Job Benefits Packages
Since you will be more than likely working full time, you can receive a great job benefits package. You can earn the following perks working in the public utility industry:
- Paid time off or sick pay.
- Vacation time.
- 401(k) matching (depends on the company in which you are affiliated).
- Stock investment matching.
- Great rates on health insurance.
Final Thoughts On A Public Utilities Career Choice
Is public utilities a good career path? Most definitely! Utilities continue to be an industry in constant demand. Individuals, businesses, and manufacturers need the modern conveniences of electricity, gas, water, and sewage to maintain production for their businesses and to have a convenient, modern lifestyle.
Evaluate one of the above positions to see which one matches your desired calling in the industry. There are many other public utility positions out there besides what is listed above, so continue to explore the field to find what piques your interest.