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It Takes a Dedicated Team to Light the Community
By Paul Wesslund
The electricity in your home can seem like an impossible miracle to explain, but 1 way to understand it is to think about the variety of skills and job roles it takes to electrify your life.
That kind of thinking can also be handy if you or someone you know is looking for a promising career.
Running electric utilities today takes just about every skill imaginable. Some jobs call for the physical ability to climb utility poles, and others the technical know-how to create intricate cybersecurity systems.
Some require the interpersonal skills of talking with a utility consumer about how to lower their electric bills, and others the logistical knowledge to get essential equipment delivered through a challenging supply chain.
An industry that depends on such a vast range of abilities offers job seekers a variety of career opportunities.
Careers in Energy Week begins October 16. There are many highlights to this unique industry and the many career paths it offers.
You can count on homes and businesses needing electricity now and in the future. One analysis predicts electricity demand will grow faster in the 2020s than in the previous two decades. Energy careers offer excellent benefits and paths for career advancement, and employees typically stay in the industry for more than 15 years.
While utility work is reliable, it’s also at the cutting edge of innovation. Electrification is the centerpiece of the push for greener energy. The number of electric vehicles is doubling every year, which means new workforce skills are needed to figure out how to keep those cars and trucks plugged in and charged up. Two of the 20 fastest-growing occupations are wind turbine technician and solar voltaic installer. More than $120 billion a year is spent to modernize the U.S. electric grid to manage new patterns of electricity use. The energy industry is changing, and it’s an exciting time to be part of it.
The skills needed in the utility industry can be found through advanced college degrees, trade school, apprenticeships or on-the-job training. The range of positions is staggering, with accountants, social media managers, IT specialists, engineers and human resources professionals making that list. Other positions include drone operators to inspect power lines, data analysts to coordinate the flow of electricity, and power plant operators to oversee electricity generation.
The thing about electricity is that maintaining the service needs to happen nearby. That means much of the work takes place near your hometown. Not only can a utility worker make a living and raise a family in the place they choose to live, but if they decide to move to another part of the country, there will likely be energy career opportunities there as well.
Any lineworker will tell you—even when they’ve just climbed down from a pole in the middle of the night during a rainstorm—there’s no better feeling than knowing the power outage they have just restored brought light and heat back into the homes of hundreds of people.
The same goes for the utility truck dispatcher back at headquarters and the media specialist getting the word out about the status of power restoration. Job satisfaction is high among resilience planners working to avoid an outage in the first place and the engineers creating an energy system for the future with renewable energy technologies and utility-scale batteries.
Utility workers know they’re powering their neighbors and the nation.
The people behind the power at your electric utility get to know even higher levels of job satisfaction.
Public power utilities offer unique business models led by the consumers who use the electricity. These businesses are committed to improving the quality of life for the local community, from partnering with local groups to bringing broadband to rural areas to working every day to keep the lights on.