What does a utility worker do?
The various jobs in the utility industry include office positions, as well as fieldwork, maintenance, installation, and repair. About 20% of jobs in utilities involve administrative positions. Production work, which encompasses maintenance, installation, and repair, makes up 40% of jobs. The rest of the positions are in construction, transportation, and services. Anyone who has worked in installation or repair or as an office manager in any type of business has a chance of securing a job as a utility worker.View Roles
What is the average utility worker salary?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2021 median salary for power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers was $94,790 per year, or $45.57 per hour. Management and highly skilled positions pay over $300,000. The lowest 10% of workers in the utility industry earn under $50,000 while those in the top 10% earn over $125,000. Jobs in the median income tier include power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers. A nuclear power plant operator can earn over $100,000. A private utility firm that serves a large metropolitan community is likely to pay more than a government utility.
Working as a utility worker
Utility work is diverse with plenty of room for advancement. It's ideal for people who are sharp at troubleshooting and problem-solving. The most successful utility professionals enjoy learning a wide range of things about industrial tools, machines, and new technology. Learn more about what is involved in a position as a utility worker.
Utility worker job description
First-line supervisors oversee the work of mechanics, installers, and technicians at a power plant or water utility. Crew members must follow the plant's directions on installation and repairs. Some utility workers operate industrial machinery and are responsible for inspecting equipment before it's used to ensure safety. Entry-level utility workers may handle tasks such as taking meter readings at various customer locations.
What type of equipment do utility workers use?
Each state has its own classification system for utility workers. In California, the Utility I classification is for less experienced workers while the Utility II classification is for more experienced and skilled workers who have completed at least three years at the first level. While there's flexibility in these classifications, second-level utility workers are allowed to operate heavy-duty machinery such as trucks, hydraulic machines, and power tools.
What is the work environment of a utility worker?
Utility work can be in an office, factory, or within the community that the organization serves. While the pandemic led to many organizations adopting work-from-home policies, the utility industry has relied more on traditional employment patterns that include on-site facility work and travel to off-site locations. Production people typically work in a control room or at a control station. They may also routinely visit remote transmission stations and substations.
Who are your colleagues as a utility worker?
Utility workers work closely with a variety of other crewmembers to complete tasks ranging from routine maintenance and inspections to the installation of new equipment. Dispatchers provide traveling utility workers with their schedules and assignments, while quality control specialists inspect completed work to ensure that everything is up to code. Utility workers also communicate regularly with custodial staff and janitors and general laborers on the upkeep and cleaning of the job site.
Production utility workers must operate as a cohesive team on collaborative projects involving installation and repair. It's important for coworkers to communicate with each other to ensure they are following the project plan accurately. Improper installation can lead to system losses and vulnerabilities, so it's crucial that the team gets installation right the first time.
What is the work schedule of a utility worker?
Since utilities such as electricity, gas, and water are available 24/7 to customers, most utility plants have round-the-clock work schedules. A dispatcher might work an 8- or 12-hour shift while rotating with someone else. This type of scheduling can be stressful and disrupt sleeping patterns.
What is the career outlook for a utility worker?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall workforce of power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers will decline 14% from 2020 through 2030. Meanwhile, the number of plant and system operators will fall by 2%.
Automation vs. manual labor
One of the reasons for these projected declines is that utilities are becoming much more efficient with the use of automation and smart technology. Robots and other automated systems are replacing certain manual labor jobs, particularly those involving redundancy and danger. AI and machine learning software together are paving the way toward smaller, more productive workforces. Utilities will still need analysts and highly skilled engineers for quality control.
What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a utility worker?
As one of the top staffing companies, Spherion partners with firms across industries to provide talent for their teams. The Spherion team assigns you a personal representative who champions you with the companies they help staff. This representative works one-on-one with you to find the right job for you. Working with Spherion affords you many advantages, including:
- Weekly pay
- Skill-building training opportunities
- Options for flexible schedules, including some remote work options
- A personal representative who assists you in your job search
What education do you need as a utility worker?
It's important to understand that utility work is so diverse that training in one area does not necessarily transfer to other areas. An electric power utility usually sets high standards for jobs that require analysis, problem-solving, and decision-making. While it's possible for a high school graduate to find entry-level positions in utility production, the higher-paying jobs usually require a bachelor’s degree.
Skills & competencies
You can enter the utility industry as an apprentice and gain hands-on experience that leads to promotions at a utility plant. Pursuing continued education in the field can open doors to higher pay. Utilities typically have three to five tiers of pay levels based on experience and skill. It's possible to advance to better jobs at a utility by learning new skills required for the next level.
Tier levels of utility work
A meter reader for a utility doesn't need a college degree, whereas an engineer does. You also don't need a college degree if you seek office and administrative work. Management jobs commonly require a four-year degree, but with some firms, a two-year degree is all you need. Power plant production workers typically need to pass an exam from the Edison Electrical Institute.
Essential background qualities
Some of the most important qualities to advance in the utility industry include critical thinking skills, paying attention to detail, and mechanical abilities. Employers in the utility industry tend to favor people with math and science backgrounds. Certain high-level positions require special licensing, such as a nuclear power operator, who needs to pass a licensing exam from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
The utility industry encompasses various professions including engineering, production, and management. Discover answers to frequently asked questions about what it is like to work as a utility worker.
What are the tasks performed by power plant operators?
A power plant operator needs to know how to run power-generating equipment, which involves stopping and starting generators and adjusting controls. You must know how to read charts and meters, as well as monitor electrical data. It involves inspecting equipment to detect operational problems. Utility workers must also understand power distribution and how to use a control board that distributes electricity.
How many electric utility companies are there in the United States?
Over 3,300 electric utility companies operate in the United States, but only a few hundred of them provide power to the majority of Americans. The largest utilities in the nation are NextEra Energy and Duke Energy. Additionally, there are numerous non-utility generators (NUGs), aka independent power producers (IPPs). These are companies that produce power independently for sale to utility companies and consumers.
Who has the best chances of advancing in a career in the utility industry?
With many baby boomers retiring in the coming years, there will be plenty of job openings to pursue, but the competition will be challenging. College grads with advanced technical education are best poised to take high-paying jobs in the utility industry. Individuals who enjoy production work and developing new skills will have a competitive edge over job seekers with undefined goals.
Will there be new opportunities for utility workers in green energy?
Yes, thousands of new jobs are expected to be created over the next decade involving renewable energy. Utility companies in general are looking into expanding their resources to include solar and wind energy. There is a growing demand for installers in these fields. The rise of decentralized solar communities opens the door for many new job opportunities in renewable power production.
How do I apply for a utility worker job?
Applying for a job as a utility worker is easy with Spherion. You should start by searching for utility worker jobs on Spherion.com by job title and location. If you don’t see the perfect role, go ahead and submit an open application. Once you submit your contact information and resume through Spherion’s open application, a recruiter from the office closest to you will reach out with details about potential utility worker roles that fit your skillset and professional goals.