- Overview of the public utility sector in the USA
- Public utility jobs by sector
- How many jobs are available in the public utility sector?
- Power plant operator: $80,850 per year
- Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operator: $47,880 per year
- Line installers and repairer: $78,310 per year
- Wind turbine technician: $56,260 per year
- Electrical and electronic engineering technologist and technician: $63,640 per year
- Electrician: $60,040 per year
- Mechanical engineer: $95,300 per year
- Civil engineer: $88,050 per year
- Petroleum engineer: $130,850 per year
- Electrical engineer: $100,420 per year
- Biggest public utility sector companies
Public utilities in the US are responsible for the electricity, water supply, and other necessities of millions of citizens.
The industry is just as big as it is important and to put its size in perspective, here are some interesting facts about public utilities in the US:
- Electricity: There are 1600 electric utility companies in the US. Together, they provide electricity to no less than 140 million customers! 1 out of every 7 Americans living in the US gets their power from a public utility.
- Water and sewerage: The country has more than 148,000 public water systems.
- Natural gas: There are 305,000 miles of transmission pipelines and 2.2 million miles of distribution pipes transporting natural gas laid out across the country.
So, now that we know how significant public utilities are, it's time to address the elephant in the room. How many jobs are available in public utilities? Keep reading to find out!
Overview of the public utility sector in the USA
Public utilities are privately owned companies that provide public services to the citizens of a country. These services are in the form of power, cable, internet, water and sewerage, and natural gas.
With a market cap of $1.61 trillion, public utility companies in the US are regulated by state-level commissions that are overseen by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
These companies offer three main types of public utilities that people depend on because the services that they offer are essential for development, and in a way, life. These are electricity, natural gas, and water and sewerage.
Without services like water and electricity, there would practically be no economy. Both businesses, as well as individual households, need them daily. Natural gas is just as important because it gets used in the industrial process to produce other essential products.
Public utility jobs by sector
Electric utility sector
The electric utility sector is made up of private companies that generate and provide electricity for private and industrial use. The electricity or power gets generated with the use of natural resources, like coal and oil.
This sector offers many employment opportunities, with different educational requirements and different duties. The types of jobs vary widely, from entry-level helper positions to high-paying engineering careers.
Some jobs in the electric utility sector include:
- Pipeline controller
- Power distribution engineer
- Substation engineer
- Power system engineer
- Substation operator
- Transmission engineer
- Power plant engineer
Water and sewer utility sector
This sector is responsible for providing water to households, businesses, and factories. The companies in the water and sewer utility sector also deal with wastewater and sewage systems.
In this sector, you can choose to work with water, wastewater, or sewers. Each field offers many jobs for individuals with different skill sets and interests.
Some jobs in the water and sewer utility sector include:
- Septic tank servicer
- Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operator
- Industrial machinery mechanic
- Civil engineer
- Environmental planner
- Water treatment specialist
- Sewer system and drain cleaning technician
Natural gas utility sector
Businesses and individual households use natural gas in everyday tasks, like cooking and bathing. Factories and industrial plants also need natural gas to manufacture new products.
The companies in the natural gas utility sector are responsible for distributing these gases. Thus, you can find various jobs in the different fields of natural gas, from gas extraction to logistics and distribution.
Some jobs in the natural gas utility sector include:
- Natural gas distribution supervisor
- Gas technician
- Environmental health officer
- Petroleum engineer
- Gas engineer
How many jobs are available in the public utility sector?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are 554,000 jobs available in utilities in the US.
There are some big fluctuations in this number, which stood at 540,800 back in 2021. By 2031, the workforce will drastically decrease by 34.6%, resulting in only 506,200 jobs being available.
We did some research and found ten of the best jobs in the utility sector. These jobs span across all three major public utilities, which means that you can compare them to find the sector that interests you.
Power plant operator: $80,850 per year
Power plant operators work in the electric utility sector, where they are responsible for controlling and operating energy systems. These systems generate and distribute the electrical power that we use, which means that these individuals have an important job.
Their typical duties include adjusting the power controls and operating generators and turbines. To become a power plant operator, you would need a high school diploma and a lot of on-the-job training.
There is an estimated decline of 16% expected for this job from 2021 to 2031. This amounts to 4,500 fewer jobs over the decade.
The median annual wage for power plant operators in the US is $80,850.
Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operator: $47,880 per year
Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators work in the water and sewer utility sector. They operate and control the machines that transport and treat water.
Some typical duties that these professionals are responsible for include the inspection, collection and testing, cleaning, maintenance, and monitoring of water and water systems. They disinfect water with the use of chemicals and document all of their findings.
To become a water and wastewater treatment plant and system operator, you would need a high school diploma and on-the-job training.
Unfortunately, this job is facing an estimated decline of 7% from 2021 to 2031. There will be 8,600 fewer jobs at the end of the decade.
The median annual wage for this profession is $47,880.
Line installers and repairer: $78,310 per year
Line installers and repairers typically work in the electric utility sector, but they can also work in telecommunications.
Their job description includes tasks like installing, repairing, inspecting, maintaining, and testing the power lines that transport electricity. They have a very dangerous and risky job because they climb on high poles and work with lines that hold high electrical currents.
To become a line installer and repairer, you would need a high school diploma and on-the-job training. You also need to complete apprenticeships and other programs that will teach you the necessary skills.
The outlook for this job is positive, with a projected increase of 6% from 2021 to 2031. This is 13,600 new jobs opening over the decade!
Electrical power-line installers and repairers earn a median annual wage of $78,310.
Wind turbine technician: $56,260 per year
Wind turbine technicians, or wind techs, work in the electric utility sector because they are responsible for repairing and maintaining the turbines that use the wind to generate electricity.
Some employees in this field are also required to help the engineers in the production and installation process of new turbines. After they are installed, the wind techs are solely responsible for ensuring that these turbines are maintained and in good working condition.
High school diplomas are rarely sufficient to land a job as a wind turbine technician. You would need a postsecondary certificate in wind energy technology or an associate's degree in a related field.
This job is facing a fantastic growth of 44% from 2021 to 2031. With the use of wind turbine technology increasing, there will be 4,900 new jobs opening over the decade.
Wind turbine technicians earn a median salary of $56,260 per year.
Electrical and electronic engineering technologist and technician: $63,640 per year
Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians work in the electric utility sector. They are responsible for assisting the electrical and electronic engineers.
They help them plan, develop, test, and evaluate new machines and devices that are powered by electricity. These professionals also create prototypes and repair defaults on existing devices.
To become an electrical and electronic engineering technologist and technician, you would need an associate's degree.
There will be 400 fewer jobs in 2031 than in 2021, which means that this job is facing very little change over the decade.
Workers in this profession earn a median annual wage of $63,640.
Electrician: $60,040 per year
Electricians work in the electric utility sector, where they work with most electrical appliances and control systems.
They install, repair, maintain, and inspect power systems at businesses and homes. Their daily duties include fixing wiring and testing devices for electrical defaults. They typically work for private companies, or they can start their own company.
To become an electrician, you need to obtain a diploma from a technical or vocational school. However, a normal high school diploma should be enough to get you into an apprenticeship. These apprenticeships last for up to 5 years, with 2000 hours of paid training per year.
There is a projected growth of 7% for this job from 2021 to 2031. Over the decade, there will be 50,200 new jobs opening.
Electricians earn a median wage of $60,040 per year.
Mechanical engineer: $95,300 per year
Mechanical engineers can work in all three major utility sectors. They use machines and devices, like electric generators, to solve complicated problems and design new devices.
They create designs and plans of their ideas and develop prototypes. Then, they develop the machine or device by overseeing the production process. Once the machine is up and running, they are responsible for maintaining it and conducting regular tests.
To become a mechanical engineer, you need to obtain a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. You won't need a special license as an entry-level mechanical engineer, but if you plan on working toward a leadership position, you'll need a Professional Engineering (PE) license.
Despite a growth of only 2% from 2021 to 2031, there will be 6,400 jobs opening over the decade.
Mechanical engineers earn a median annual wage of $95,300.
Civil engineer: $88,050 per year
Civil engineers can work in all three major utility sectors since they are responsible for designing public transportation infrastructure.
They visit the prospective construction site and create designs and plans. These professionals have a complicated task because they need to ensure that the soil will be able to hold a strong structure by conducting tests. They also need to ensure that their plans are according to state regulations.
Not only do they design the plans, but they also need to submit them and come up with cost estimates for the project. In the end, they need to repair faults and maintain the systems that they built.
To become a civil engineer, you need a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. For a more advanced career, you can obtain a Professional Engineering (PE) license.
The workforce of this career is expected to grow by 7% from 2021 to 2031. That's 22,100 new jobs by the end of the decade.
Civil engineers earn a median wage of $88,050 per year.
Petroleum engineer: $130,850 per year
Petroleum engineers work in the natural gas utility sector. They are responsible for coming up with plans and methods to extract natural resources, like oil and gas, from the earth's surface.
They design and develop the equipment that is used both onshore and offshore. To use the equipment to effectively extract oil and gas, they need to analyze the rock formations and reservoirs in the specific area.
To become a petroleum engineer, you would need a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering or any other engineering field. To advance your career, a Professional Engineering (PE) license is required.
This job is facing a growth of 8% from 2021 to 2031. By the end of the decade, there will be 1,900 new job openings.
Petroleum engineers earn a median annual wage of $130,850.
Electrical engineer: $100,420 per year
Electrical engineers work in the electrical utility sector, where they are responsible for the creation of new electrical equipment.
From designing and developing prototypes to testing and maintaining the equipment, electrical engineers are involved in every step of the production process.
To become an electrical engineer, you need to obtain a bachelor's degree in any related engineering or electrical field. To become a Professional Engineer, you need to obtain a PE license.
With a growth of 2% from 2021 to 2031, there will be 3,100 new electrical engineer job openings over the decade.
These professionals earn a median wage of $100,420 per year.
Biggest public utility sector companies
Top electric utility sector companies
Here's a list of the top electric utility sector companies in the US:
Exelon: This company provides electricity to more than 10 million customers in the US. Not only do they make the biggest annual revenue, but they also employ the most workers. They employ 31,518 individuals and their annual revenue is no less than $36,3 billion.
Duke Energy: This company has more than 8 million customers and they have 27,605 employees. Duke Energy makes an annual revenue of $24,7 billion.
Southern Company: Southern Company employs 27,164 workers, who help them make their revenue of $23,1 billion per year.
Pacific Gas & Electric: They have 5.5 million customers and 26,000 employees. The company makes an annual revenue of $20,6 billion per year.
NextEra Energy: This company employs 15,000 people and boasts an annual revenue of $17,1 billion.
Top water and sewer utility sector companies
According to Statista, these are the leading water and sewer utility sector companies in the US:
American Water Works Company: American Water, the top water and sewer utility company in the US, made $3,777 million in sales revenue in 2020.
New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority: They made $3,655 million in sales revenue in 2020, which puts them in 2nd place.
Veolia Water North America Operating Services: In third place, Veolia Water made no less than $2,114 in sales revenue in 2020.
Essential Utilities: With a sales revenue of $1,462 million in 2020, Essential Utilities is the 4th biggest water and sewer utility sector company.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power: This company made a sales revenue of $1,061 million in 2020, putting them in 5th place.
Top natural gas utility sector companies
CostAnalysts helped us make this list of the top natural gas utility companies in the US.
BP: BP is headquartered in the UK, but a significant portion of their business operates in the US. They employ no less than 65,900 workers and they make an annual revenue of $164,19 billion.
EQT: They operate in various US states, where they employ only 693 workers. The company makes an annual revenue of $3,06 billion.
Southwestern Energy Company: With 938 employees on their payroll, Southwestern Energy makes $6,67 billion in annual revenue.
Antero Resources: Antero only employs 519 workers but they make $4.62 billion in annual revenue.
Exxon Mobil: Exxon Mobil, headquartered in Texas, makes an annual revenue of $285,64 billion with the help of 63,000 employees.
Now that you know how many jobs are available in public utilities, it's up to you to decide whether you are still interested in working in the industry.
The projected outlook for the different types of jobs may be dreadful, but there's always the opportunity to use your skills to move to a different industry.
Plus, many of the jobs require no more than a high school diploma, which means that you can walk into a public utility job at any time.
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