Is Public Utilities a Good Career Path? [10 Options w/Salaries Data]

The public utilities sector offers a variety of positions, from those in administration and public relations to those in engineering and technology. A career in the public utilities sector can present a variety of options for professional growth and job satisfaction.

Key Takeaways

The public utilities sector offers a variety of positions, from those in administration and public relations to those in engineering and technology. A career in the public utilities sector can present a variety of options for professional growth and job satisfaction.

There are many prospects for career advancement and public utilities salaries are stable sources of income. As you pursue post-secondary education or certifications, you might also be able to earn a higher wage. Many of these positions also provide employees with attractive benefits. 

You may decide if a career in public utilities is right for you by learning more about it and looking into your work alternatives.

In this article, in order to assist you to understand more about it, we will define public utilities and go through a number of job opportunities in the industry.

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There are some very essential goods and services like energy, water, gas, power, transport, communication, etc, that need to be produced and supplied in a timely manner for an economy to function and thrive.

Public utilities are thus the companies in charge of making it happen. They handle planning, infrastructure building, management, maintenance, distribution, repair, customer support, and many other tasks in order to do this. 

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The majority of public utilities are handled by governmental entities, but the utility sector also includes a large number of private businesses that operate independently or jointly with the government.

Pursuing a career in public utilities can be a suitable choice if you enjoy helping your community. In this sector, there are many distinct occupations to take into account, from entry-level positions with little requirements to those requiring a skilled craft certificate.

Due to the significance of the services this industry provides, employment opportunities are often plentiful and in high demand. Those who work in public utility occupations often experience high job satisfaction because these positions serve to contribute to the welfare and production of the community.

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What Are Public Utilities?

Working in the public utility sector entails supplying people with the resources they require to conduct their daily lives. Public utility workers have important roles in keeping society running smoothly and maintaining a high standard of living. 

The public utility industry offers a wide range of employment options, from front-line jobs to support positions in administration and human resources. Private and governmental businesses that collaborate to give customers reliable and secure resources are called public utilities. There are numerous segments in the public utility sector, including:


The majority of people have access to tap water, which is a public utility. This water is used by people for cleaning, cooking, and bathing. Water is sanitized and distributed by public utility personnel in a safe and efficient manner. 

Waste removal

Waste removal is another category of the public utility segment. In order to do this, sewage water must first be treated before being released into the environment. It also covers the procedures and methods needed to transfer garbage to the facilities where it is treated.


The public utilities electricity division offers electrical services to a community. Whenever there are any interruptions, such as after a significant electrical storm, they also try to restore it to operation. Many people's machinery, devices, and equipment are powered by the electricity produced by this industry.


Building heating is typically done with natural gas. Those who operate in the natural gas industry extract and distribute gas for human consumption. The areas with colder climates might have the highest need for this public service.


The telecommunications industry is a part of public utilities that facilitates daily entertainment consumption and inter-person communication. There are several different positions engaged in this, including linemen, internet communicators, and telephone workers. Due to the necessity of telephone and internet communications for many business procedures, these resources are crucial to the functioning of firms.

Public Utility Obligations

Public utilities are businesses that offer the general public essential services including water, electricity, petrol, and sewerage. These businesses are subject to government regulation, but they also have obligations.

Public utilities must first and foremost offer dependable service. This means that customers should be able to depend on the quality of the service and that service should be provided without interruption.

Public utilities must also make an effort to maintain fair prices. This makes sure that clients can afford the services and that the business isn't making an excessive profit from its monopoly on necessary services. Public utilities must also be attentive to the demands and concerns of its customers.

This means that companies should be prepared to make changes as necessary and have a process for handling client complaints. Public utilities can guarantee that they give their consumers the best service possible by adhering to these requirements.

Public Utility Characteristics

Public utilities are services that the government provides to the wider population. Water, electricity, gas, and sewer are a few examples of these services.

The fact that public utilities are necessary for the general populace's health and safety is one of their primary characteristics.

Water is required, for instance, for drinking, cleaning, and cooking. For heating, cooling, and lighting, electricity is required. For heating and cooking, petrol is required. Waste disposal calls for a sewer system. The fact that public utilities are governed by the government is another feature of them.

The manner in which these services must be rendered is prescribed by law. For instance, the government may establish requirements for the caliber of water that a utility must supply. The prices that a utility can charge for its services may also be determined by the government. Finally, monopoly corporations typically operate public utilities.

This indicates that each service in a certain area is offered by just one business. For instance, there is typically only one water or power utility per area. Due to the lack of competition, these businesses may be able to charge excessive prices and offer subpar services.

How to Get a Job in Public Utilities

  1. Get knowledgeable about the market. Know the many categories of public utilities, the services they offer, and the difficulties they encounter.
  1. Look for potential jobs in the public utility sector. To find out what positions are available, either conducts a job search online or get in touch with your neighborhood public utility association.
  1. Organize your successful work into a portfolio. Work on actual projects involving public utilities to demonstrate your abilities. This will demonstrate to potential employers that you have the expertise required to work successfully in the public utilities industry.
  1. Attend appropriate workshops and training sessions. Attend training sessions and workshops provided by your local public utility association or other organizations active in this profession to stay current on the most recent trends in the business. This will assist you in developing new abilities and expanding your repertoire as a professional in public utilities.
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Jobs in Public Utilities

Although the average yearly salary in the United States is just over $53,000, there are some public utilities occupations that can pay close to twice that amount. 

With that in mind, this section will explore everything from the public utilities jobs with the highest salaries to those with the lowest. Remember that higher income typically comes with specific degree and experience requirements.

According to our study, these are the available positions for public utilities:

1. Safety Criticality Engineer

The average yearly wage for a safety criticality engineer is $90,673. This position, which pays the highest salary among public utility jobs, calls for expertise in handling nuclear fuel in a secure and efficient manner. For instance, Criticality Safety Engineers are in charge of performing research and examining nuclear fuel handling, transportation, and storage procedures.

A Criticality Safety Engineer's ultimate objective is to assure the safe handling of nuclear fuel by spotting risks and legal infractions and developing innovative storage and transportation techniques. The usual method for doing these activities is to thoroughly prepare reports and suggestions that can be presented to a government review board.

2. Petroleum Engineer

A petroleum engineer makes, on average, $126,386 per year. These experts design and assist in building more effective ways of producing oil and gas using their skills. Most of the time, petroleum engineers work on drilling sites alongside managers and oilfield personnel to correctly evaluate and convey suggested strategies.

Moreover, petroleum engineers frequently assess, maintain, and create new machinery to help with the oil or gas extraction process. An enhanced schematic for the devices that inject water, steam, gasses, or chemicals into oil deposits, for instance, might be created by a petroleum engineer.

3. Nuclear Engineer

An average nuclear engineer earns $89,276 a year. Radiation engineers undertake experiments to determine the impact of radiation on nuclear energy byproducts. This is typically accomplished by running tests in an experimental setting that may be used to examine the issue and make suggestions for better layouts, components, and designs.

Radiation engineers must exercise caution when working with something as harmful as radiation, despite the fact that these experiments are very tightly controlled. Of course, the dangerous nature of radiation itself is what makes system, device, and network testing so crucial.

4. Nuclear Licensing Engineer

An average nuclear licensing engineer makes $129,405 per year. Engineers that specialize in nuclear licensing also work with nuclear energy, although their primary responsibility is issuing licenses to nuclear power facilities. These experts must conduct regulatory assessments by assessing and confirming that systems and equipment are up-to-date and operating.

A Nuclear Licensing Engineer will draft and submit safety analysis reports to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission once the analysis is finished (NRC).

These experts are in charge of a lot because the studies they submit will influence whether or not a power plant is granted a license. Moreover, Nuclear Licensing Engineers frequently utilize their knowledge to look up technical and legal data that can be used to put new codes into practice.

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5. Water Resources Engineer

Water resource engineers typically earn $73,591 annually. These experts are crucial in monitoring and maintaining water use in a region. Populations all around the United States depend on water resources engineers to provide a reliable and secure water supply, whether they live in a large city or a small town.

In order to complete this assignment, it is necessary to first assess the community's demands before using the results to create projections for both the present and the future use of water. Following the information-gathering process, treatment facilities, pipelines, supply systems, and pump systems can be correctly designed and managed.

6. Substation Technician

The average yearly salary for substation technicians is $63,781. This is by far the highest-paying entry-level employment on this list, with 35% of individuals who are currently employed in this industry starting their careers with just a high school diploma. You can receive training as a new employee to do regular safety inspections and learn the necessary legislation.

Nonetheless, the majority of a substation technician's work is performing regular maintenance on the electric substations that serve certain communities. They will also be in charge of wiring systems and control panel installation while accomplishing this and as well as executing any necessary emergency repairs.

7. Solar Technician

Solar technicians make $50,528 on average per year. This is a fantastic entry-level position in the public utilities sector with outstanding job development. The assembly, installation, and maintenance of solar panel systems that generate solar energy for residential and commercial premises are the key responsibilities of a solar technician.

Fortunately, you may receive training from a company on how to install every solar panel, shape panels to fit, run tests, analyze problems, and fix them.

8. Utility Manager

A utility manager makes $77,488 on average per year. Utility Operators are highly adaptable and trainable workers focusing on maintaining the utilities we depend on daily. A Utilities Operator might operate various machines daily in addition to maintaining the machinery and identifying problems.

These experts frequently conduct site safety audits weekly to make sure that safety rules are being followed.

9. Plant Operator

The average annual salary for a plant operator is $47,272. Workers with specialized industrial training known as plant operators oversee and direct operations in manufacturing and power plants. These experts play a crucial role in the plant because they are in charge of operating most of the machinery and equipment.

This work also includes the additional requirement of responding to questions and problems relating to such machinery. In these circumstances, Plant Operators will keep an eye on the units' quality and, as necessary, carry out rudimentary troubleshooting.

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10. Drain and Sewer Technician

A drain and sewer professional makes an average of $53,922 per year. A High School Diploma is all that is required for 50% of Sewer and Drain Technicians to begin their careers, making this a simple entry-level position for anyone interested in Public Utilities. Installing, repairing, and maintaining sewer and drainage systems for neighborhoods and towns are the daily responsibilities of this position.

Also, to correctly remove clogs, fix septic tanks, and fix manholes, among other things, these professionals frequently assess specific service components of a sewage system.

Why Choose a Career in Public Utilities?

There are several good reasons to consider a career in public utilities. Hence, to determine if you're a suitable fit for the industry, take into account the following:

  • You have choices. Public Utilities encompass a wide range of specialties, providing you with a wide range of employment opportunities. You can work with things like electricity, sewage removal, water supply, natural gas, and more.
  • You'll have an impact. Public utility employees provide communities around the country with access to clean water, secure sewage systems, energy, and other services. While there is an inherent obligation associated with this, you might find solace in the fact that your efforts are helping regular people.
  • Being stuck in an office all day may not be to everyone's taste, and working for Public Utilities gives you the opportunity to interact with people in the real world. Hence, many of these vocations may be a wonderful fit if you enjoy moving around and tinkering.
  • Easy opportunities. You can often start working in the public utilities sector with just a high school diploma or an associate's degree. This means that even if you lack significant experience, you can still get an entry-level job and avoid accruing student loan debt.
  • Higher than average pay. Public utility occupations often pay more than $60,000 a year, with some even paying as much as $80,000 to $100,000. This is a really good deal, especially when you consider the low educational requirements.
  • Guaranteed advantages. Most full-time positions in the public utilities industry will come with benefits, and considering that there are so many positions that are also state and federal jobs, these benefits can be very spectacular. A 401k, PTO, health insurance, and more are included.
  • Potential for job growth. While some occupations in the public utilities sector are more static than others, wind and solar jobs are expanding rapidly. You will therefore have more opportunities.

Education and Certification Qualifications for a Career in Public Utilities

Given the size of the public utilities sector, different careers will have different educational requirements. Here is some general information about what to anticipate, though:

  1. The minimal amount of education required for entry-level positions. Public utilities have a lot of entry-level positions that are simple to obtain. For instance, 50% of sewer and drain technicians were able to begin their careers with just a high school diploma.

    In fact, at least 25% or more of persons who are employed in each of the top five entry-level positions on our list have a high school diploma as their greatest degree of schooling.
  1. Job guarantees for bachelor's degree holders. Given how many people in public utilities either have a high school diploma or an associate's degree, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a bachelor's degree is highly valued.

    The majority of the highest-paying positions in the sector simply call for a bachelor's degree, with engineering being the most popular major (Mechanical, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, etc).
  1. Certifications that will advance your career. Although not all Public Utilities careers necessitate credentials, the following ones are important to be aware of: A few examples include Public Power Manager, Certified Utility Safety Professional (CUSP), and Public Utility Regulation and Economics (PURE).

    Most of the time, these certificates are optional yet they can give you a competitive advantage or enable you to continue your education.

Top Universities for Public Utilities Studies

1. Michigan State University

The Institute of Public Utilities (IPU) advocates for educated, effective, and efficient regulation of the network industries with high infrastructure requirements that deliver vital power, natural gas, water, and broadband services. 

IPU, a self-supporting division of the College of Social Science at Michigan State University, the first land-grant university in the country, was founded in 1965. We collaborate with academics from numerous academic institutions, departments, and centers and are based on MSU's stunning East Lansing campus.

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2. University of Florida

PURC (Public Utilities Research Center) is a renowned academic institution devoted to research, teaching, and leadership development in infrastructure policy, as well as utility regulation and strategy.

Since the regulatory environment continues to develop, regulators and industry personnel, both seasoned and fresh to the field, benefit from continuous education. Organizations benefit from improved decision-making and a more promising future when their workforce is educated.

3. Gateway Community College

Graduates from the Public Utilities Management program have a wide range of job choices in this quickly expanding industry. For those with a strong technical background as well as those with aptitude in business, marketing, accounting, information technology, data analysis, and office administration, the industry offers a variety of professional paths. 

With this degree, students have the option of transferring smoothly to Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), where they can pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration with a focus in Public Utilities Management.

4. New Mexico State University

Since 1978, the Center for Public Utilities (CPU), a division of the College of Business at New Mexico State University, has served as a resource for professionals working for federal and state commissions, utility companies, and other parties involved in the electricity, natural gas distribution, interstate pipeline, water utility, and telecommunications sectors. 

The CPU also hosts conferences on current policy issues. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has approved only four university centers, and the CPU is one of them.

5. Clemson University

The agriculture and business departments at Clemson University are well-known, but the school also boasts a strong engineering program that can be useful to students interested in studying public utilities. Students that select Clemson will have access to some of the top campus resources, including labs and tools that can aid in their academic pursuits.

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What Do People Who Work in Public Utilities Do?

Workers in public utilities are essential to maintaining neighborhoods, towns, and even entire cities. We depend on these individuals every single day for everything from protecting public safety through nuclear and radioactive monitoring to assuring public wellness by maintaining water, energy, and sewer systems.

It goes without saying that performing these crucial tasks demands a thorough understanding of the systems and equipment utilized as well as the state and federal standards that guide appropriate maintenance. Hence, employees of Public Utilities must have a clear sense of when to get their hands dirty and when to complete paperwork.

Overall, being detail-oriented, flexible, and communicative are skills you need to succeed as a Public Utilities employee. Hence, even without any prior experience, if that describes you, you may probably learn everything you need to have a successful career in public utilities.

Is It Worth It to Work in Public Utilities?

Yes, it is. First and foremost, this is an area of employment that gives its employees security and trust in the future. It's something to consider and research. Because the need for essential services is constant, someone must oversee them.

You will always be working with people in this line of employment, providing them with the services they need for daily living. Also, pursuing this vocation can guarantee you government perks. This is so because the government frequently manages the businesses that provide these services.

Private businesses can also provide these services, though this isn't often the case. In conclusion, the United States offers good job opportunities in the public sector.

Benefits and Disadvantages of a Career in Public Utilities

Let's take a final look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of a job in public utilities.


  • Good Salary: Positions in the public utilities sector pay well. More than the national average salary, the public utilities sector's typical salary ranges from $52,000 to $82,000.
  • Benefits: Depending on the nature of the position, the majority of public utility positions have perks including paid time off, paid leaves, health insurance, travel expenses, and so forth.
  • Minimum Entry Requirements: Even if you lack formal education and experience, it is not difficult to find work in the public utilities sector.
  • There is room for growth and diversity in the utility sector, and choosing this career is a great way to advance professionally. Having just a few years of experience can lead to a successful career and new prospects for growth.
  • Job Fulfillment: When you realize that the work you're doing directly ensures that thousands of people receive the essential commodities and services they need for survival, positions in public utilities can bring job fulfillment at a time when the majority of workers are dissatisfied and disengaged with the work they do.


  • Risk factor: Many public utility employees come with a disproportionately high level of safety and security concerns. For instance, even with all the safety equipment and training, working as a power lineman is not what we would consider a regularly safe profession.
  • Repetitiveness: Because public utility jobs are crucial, you must adhere to a strict set of rules and a code of behavior. As a result, if you have a passion for creativity, the repetitive nature of some occupations may be challenging.
  • Technological development: Many improvements in public utility technologies have made much former employment obsolete. This could make your employment less secure, particularly if it involves hard labor.


The provision of people's basic needs is the responsibility of the public utilities sector. They include resources like water, energy, and others that are similar. These are all necessities for daily existence. Because of the nature of the service, it maintains industry stability.

At all organizational levels, the public utilities sector has a critical demand for competent labor. Additionally, brand-new sectors of the public utilities industry, including the wind and solar energy sectors, are expanding at a never-before-seen rate. More employment opportunities result from this.

Dealing with and maintaining a variety of electrical and mechanical equipment is a typical aspect of working for a public utility business. So, having great plumbing and electrical wiring skills, for instance, might be quite helpful. Several businesses additionally demand that their staff members pass certification exams and complete safety training programs.

There is no need in spending time doing so because there are several prospects for job advancement once you enter the public utilities field. If you are convinced that a career in the utilities industry is a smart choice, you should begin applying to positions that fit your qualifications and long-term objectives.

Also, utility companies provide excellent perks including retirement plans and health insurance and there is always a strong demand for utility services due to the necessity of labor in daily life. Even entry-level positions can lead to successful careers.

So, public utilities are a fantastic alternative to explore if you're seeking reliable, safe, and satisfying employment!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is utilities a good career?

Why choose a career in public utilities?

What training is required for a career in public utilities?

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