Is Public Utilities a Good Career Path?

Komal Guide
18 Min Read

The public utilities sector offers many diverse job profiles. The job roles range from public relations, human resources, and administration to more technical roles of engineers and technicians.

The public utility sector is responsible for making essential services and resources available to the general public. 

1. Is Public Utilities a Good Career Path?

A job in public utilities is a good career path because it involves contributing to your community. It is not a very limited or restricted field, as it offers a range of distinct roles.

There are many entry-level jobs with minimal eligibility requirements. Additionally, it has roles that demand skilled trade qualifications

The services provided by the public utilities industry are very important. Each city, municipality, or county requires public utilities to function properly.

That is why certain jobs in this sector will never become obsolete. The jobs in this field are fairly steady and reliable. 

High job security and high demand for employees make it a lucrative option for the youth. It also comes with high job satisfaction since it takes care of the well-being of the society. Its services help in the production of a community.

2. What are Public Utilities? 

Public utilities are essential resources needed by the public in their daily lives.

These include water supply, power, electricity, natural gas, sewage removal, heat, and telecommunications. The public utility services involve these resources’ production, treatment, transmission, and distribution.

Fundamentally, public utilities allow societies to function and maintain a good quality of life. The services involve people in front-line positions and support roles in human resources and business administration. The people in the sector work to provide a safe and consistent supply of resources. 

Public utilities include both public and private organizations working together. Different departments have waste or sewage removal, water supply, and electricity.

People pursuing a career path in public utilities can find jobs in local government or private companies

2.1. Water

Public utilities facilities supply tap water. People use it for various daily activities like bathing, cooking, and cleaning. The role of this sector is to supply treated water effectively.

2.2. Electricity 

Access to electrical power has become an indispensable part of our lives, and people use it to power their machines, devices, and equipment.

Public utility roles involve providing electrical services to an area. It also ensures the restoration and runs the electrical systems in case of disruptions. 

2.3. Waste Removal

The public utility segment of waste removal entails collecting and transporting waste to treatment facilities.

It also involves treating sewage water and working on treatment systems and processes.

2.4. Telecommunications 

Telecommunications enable people to communicate with each other. It also allows us to consume entertainment.

Roles in this sector are telephone workers, linemen, and people responsible for internet communications. A significant part of business processes is possible due to telephone and internet communications.

2.5. Gas

Natural gas is an essential resource in cold-weather regions. It is used to heat buildings. The job role entails natural gas extraction process and distribution for consumption.

3. Job Prospects

In recent decades, due to climate change, there has been a major shift to renewable energy resources. Inevitably, this has also affected the job market.

As a result, the job openings may decline for nuclear licensing engineers and technicians, power plant engineers, and waste and water treatment system operators.

However, job openings for profiles related to renewable and sustainable energy resources are projected to grow. Jobs for wind turbine technicians and installers of solar panel systems will grow more than average.

Job profiles that require some level of training and education are projected to grow at an average rate; and these include HVAC mechanics, electricians, line installers, and repairers.

4. Who Should Consider a Career Path in Public Utilities? 

Being part of the public utilities can prove to be very promising. However, if your interests and career plans do not align with the field of work, you may not be able to thrive in your job, and thus, it is important to know about the field before pursuing it. 

4.1. Educational Qualifications

Since people employed in the public utility sector work in different roles, even people who lack formal education can apply.

People working in the wastewater or sanitation fields may only need a high school diploma; however, some roles will need degrees or certificates to be eligible. 

To work as an electrical engineer or civil engineer, you will need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering; majoring in a specific field of engineering can land you the highest-paying jobs.

Hands-on jobs like electrician, technician, or plumber will require completion of a related apprenticeship program with a license. Many utility companies, trade schools, and community colleges offer such programs.

4.2. Skillset for Public Utilities

Having certain technical and communication skills is essential to be successful in public utilities, and knowing how to communicate well with your team members and customers can be helpful to work effectively. 

Fundamental knowledge of physics and electricity is crucial. From advanced-level jobs in engineering to jobs requiring less experience, all need a foundation of either scientific background or basic technical skills. 

Working out in the field is not easy if you don’t have the necessary physical strength, and many roles involve being on your feet for most of the day, which requires sufficient stamina to be able to sustain the job. 

Due to the technical nature of the many job roles in the industry, it is important to have a problem-solving attitude. This enables you to have a prompt solution to the issues at hand.

4.3. Personality Traits 

People working in the public utility sector are directly or indirectly serving society by providing clean and safe resources and other essential services.

A helpful personality in serving the general public can bring job fulfilment and success in the field. 

5. Pros and Cons of a Public Utilities Career

Jobs in every field and industry have pros and cons; therefore, it is essential to weigh these pros and cons with your personal preference and situation before choosing a career path.

5.1. Pros of Public Utilities Jobs

Public Utility jobs come with many perks and benefits.

5.1.1. Government Sector

Jobs in the public utilities sector are mostly government. Government jobs come with a range of benefits and incentives which include attractive salaries, pensions, job security, and health insurance. 

5.1.2. Job Growth Opportunities 

You can begin your career in public utilities without pursuing post-secondary education if you are eager to start. Many job opportunities have minimal education requirements and offer on-the-job training

As you gain experience, you can make progress in your career. Just a few years of professional experience can advance you to higher-level profiles in management or administration.

There is always the option to pursue post-secondary education after working in the field instead of pursuing it right after high school. 

However, some roles still require a graduate or post-graduate degree in the field; like a chemical or petroleum engineer will require a bachelor’s or master’s in the area compared to an administrative assistant.

5.1.3. Competitive Salary and Benefits 

Jobs in this sector are often high-paying, especially those in engineering roles, and there are many opportunities to grow in this career.

You can get high salaries after completing higher studies or other valuable certifications. 

Public utility jobs come with multiple benefits. Opportunities for career development coupled with vacation days, sick leave, paid leave, and health benefits.

5.1.4. Job Options

You can find a job in the public utility sector that suits your personal preference. Whether you want to work in the office, work in the field, operate a machine, or work with your hands, there are a lot of options. 

5.1.5. Job Security 

A large population of people depend on public utilities in their day-to-day lives. These resources should be available consistently. This creates a great demand for employees and a high-security level for the job.

Job security can make employees feel confident about their jobs. Having such a focus increases their dedication towards their responsibilities and employers.

5.2. Cons of Public Utilities Jobs

With many attractive benefits, there is also a fair share of challenges in the public utilities industry. 

5.2.1. Decline in Job Growth 

Due to the increasing shift from non-renewable to renewable sources of energy, many public utilities jobs are projected to decline. 

5.2.2. Physical Labor

A great share of public utility industry job profiles are physically demanding. Although it can be highly satisfying, manual labour does take a toll. 

5.2.3. Low-Paying Entry-Level Job

Entry-level positions like wastewater treatment technician and sewage collector have low salaries initially; but these jobs don’t need a lot of experience. 

6. Jobs in the Public Utilities Sector

There are many different sectors of the public utilities industry. You can go through the list of job profiles and the national average salary.

6.1. Water Treatment Plant Operator (Average Salary: $46,950 p.a.)

Water treatment plant operators oversee the operations at the plant and the associated equipment and are responsible for the maintenance of tools and equipment used in water treatment processes. 

The operators test treated water. The chemical levels and cleanliness of the treated water should be as per the government standards.

They manage other employees, take inventory, and procure necessary supplies.

6.2. Water Engineer (Average Salary: $71,250 p.a.)

Water engineers create needed structures to provide water to the people for public utility facilities. They maintain high-quality standards for clean water.

The engineers make sure that guidelines for safety are maintained and that effects on the environment are minimized. 

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Source: Depositphotos

They share assessments of water facilities by creating relevant reports of their inspections. Water engineers liaise for the public utilities works between the public and the companies.

6.3. Wastewater Engineer (Average Salary: $42,100 p.a.)

The work of a wastewater engineer entails maintaining and operating equipment at facilities. The facilities treat and distribute water for consumption.

They also supervise other engineers at water treatment plants. The engineers inspect and make reports for the government review board on the efficiency and operations of water treatment plants.

6.4. Wind Turbine Technician (Average Salary: $59,090 p.a.)

Wind turbine technicians operate turbines that generate electric power from the wind. The work entails maintenance and overseeing operating procedures.

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Source: Depositphotos

They collect data and create reports on the findings after inspecting turbines. The technicians ensure quality and safety guidelines are met.

6.5. Electrical Engineer (Average Salary: $93,060 p.a.)

Electrical engineers create and maintain necessary electrical systems and their components. They work at power stations to supply power to neighbouring areas. The engineers regularly conduct tests on pieces of equipment. 

They identify, troubleshoot, and resolve issues in the systems. They work with other people and companies to ensure consistent and effective distribution of electric power.

6.6. Pipeline Engineer (Average Salary: $122,860 p.a.)

Pipeline systems transfer fuel, clean water, sewage, and other materials. A pipeline engineer is responsible for creating and installing these pipeline systems. They also set budgets for the same.

Pipeline engineers are in charge of the development and installation of the systems and also oversee that team members work as per the applicable rules and regulations.

6.7. Geologist (Average Salary: $60,750 p.a.)

A geologist in public utilities is in charge of extracting minerals for public consumption. They may work in collaboration with other businesses to make sure there is minimal damage to the environment.

They also provide advice on natural event risks of mineral extraction processes such as landslides. 

6.8. Petroleum Engineer (Average Salary: $126,200 p.a.)

Petroleum engineers handle the analysis, extraction, and transportation of petroleum. Their primary responsibility is to extract gas and oil from the earth. They render various types of services in public utilities. 

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Source: Depositphotos

They consistently work to develop better processes for extraction and treatment. The petroleum engineers supervise drill sites. They test products and new pieces of equipment in labs.

6.9. Utility Manager (Average Salary: $81,360 p.a.)

Utility managers are in charge of operations and employees working at public utility facilities. They make sure to provide the general public with safe and necessary resources. The managers are in control of the related budgets and check the demand on the systems.

They inspect facilities and associated equipment. They ensure all equipment and tools are repaired or updated if needed.

Maintaining employee safety is also part of their job role. They make contingency plans in case the consumer demand is not met by the facilities.

6.10. Radiation Safety Officer (Average Salary: $83,700 p.a.)

The job of the Radiation Safety Officer entails working with nuclear substances. They oversee the storage, handling, and transportation of such substances.

There is a high risk involved when working with nuclear substances. Therefore, the most crucial role of all is to ensure the safety of the employees and the community.

They also test fuel and make sure all equipment works properly. To maintain best practices, they research further developments in the industry.

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Source: Depositphotos

They regularly assess the protocols and procedures of the facility where they work and create presentations and safety analysis reports on their findings.

7. Are Public Utilities Job Safe?

The general public is greatly dependent on the functioning of the public utilities industry for all its basic resources. Due to its important role in society, it is very stable and has a range of job roles from minimal entry-level to more skilled and advanced-level jobs. 

Employees can progress in their careers by gaining experience. The jobs are mostly reliable and safe with many benefits. Therefore, it is worth considering pursuing public utilities careers.

Last Updated on by Ankita M Bose

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