Public utilities are owned by the government and cover a variety of needs for the population, including energy, water, and sanitation services. Working at a public utility can be a reliable job with great benefits. Some of the most lucrative positions include architectural designer, civil engineer, electrical lineman, and gas controller. Annual salaries can range from $40,000 to well into six figures.
Many people take public utilities for granted. When you turn on the faucet to pour a glass of water or switch on a light, you probably don’t think twice about it until you receive a bill at the end of the month. What you may not realize, however, is that thousands of people work behind the scenes to provide you with water, power, telephone lines, and more. Becoming one of those thousands of workers in public utilities can provide stable and reliable income as well as help manage systems that touch people’s lives every day.
Public utilities companies offer all kinds of employment opportunities. Engineers and people with scientific backgrounds are always in demand. Those with soft-skill backgrounds who know how to manage a team are integral to the public utilities’ workforce. As the government manages public utilities, it offers high-paying blue-collar jobs for people skilled in operating machinery and laying down pipes and electric lines. Jobs in public utilities can be some of the most reliable, best-paying jobs around.
Public utilities 101
Public utilities are organizations, usually associated with the government or communities, that offer essential services and infrastructure. Primarily, they deal with the consumption of energy, such as electricity and natural gas. They also distribute water and lay telephone lines.
The next frontier is the internet. Some U.S. states are starting to regulate internet access as a public utility since it’s nearly as essential to people’s lives as gas or water. Finally, by textbook definition, public parks and public libraries can also be classified under the umbrella of the public utility industry.
Best-paying jobs in public utilities
These are some of the highest-paying jobs in the public utilities industry, along with their average annual salaries.
|Hydraulic engineer||$70,000 – $110,000|
|Electrical lineman||$24,000 – $110,000|
|Nuclear physicist||$110,000 – $150,000|
|Financial controller||$60,000 – $120,000|
|Gas controller||$40,000 – $100,000|
|Water compliance inspector||$65,000 – $75,000|
|Park ranger||$31,200 – $62,400|
|Finance or commodities trader||$100,000 – $150,000|
|Broadband technician||$40,000 – $70,000|
|Architectural designer||$75,000 – $150,000|
|Civil engineer||$70,000 – $120,000|
|Power systems engineer||$73,000 – $106,000|
|Nuclear licensing engineer||$80,000 – $140,000|
Salary: $70,000 – $110,000
Forms of green, or clean, energy are becoming increasingly important, particularly with the rise of electric cars. A hydraulic engineer works with energy derived from hydropower and assists a power system dispatcher to send the electricity throughout the community.
A hydraulic engineer at a hydroelectric plant can oversee parts of the system that require expertise in the way water moves. Furthermore, a hydraulic engineer can also assist with the dispersion of water to the general public by working at one of a state’s many water utilities.
Salary: $24,000 – $110,000
If you have noticed that the electric lines in your area are well-maintained, that’s thanks to the hard work of the electrical linemen. People working in these positions make sure that the electricity you consume is delivered as efficiently as possible. A lineman must be able to operate the proper aerial and excitation equipment as well as perform tasks hanging from a pole at great heights.
Salary: $110,000 – $150,000
The people behind this miraculous energy source are physicists. For traditional nuclear-fission-generated power, physicists are needed to both help design the reactor and infrastructure, as well as monitor the energy production. Most important, they are responsible for helping manage the interaction of potentially dangerous radioactive materials that go into nuclear fission.
Nuclear physicists work hand-in-hand with power transmission engineers and the power plant engineers to make sure that the engineering matches the physics of the nuclear power system. As the future of energy could be nuclear fusion, physicists will be in high demand if this breakthrough is made and regulated as a public utility.
Salary: $60,000 – $120,000
People with accounting backgrounds or who generally like to work with numbers can opt for financial controller positions at public utilities. In order for public utilities to be both standardized and affordable for the consumer, financial controllers need to be present to establish that everything proceeds according to cost predictions.
A financial controller will handle payroll, maintenance costs, transportation costs, and distribution costs. Their role is not only to manage current costs but also to model future costs versus income that might be related to an increase or decrease in the price of the inputs.
Looking to invest some of your savings once you have a high-paying job in a public utility? Look no further than the options below.
Salary: $40,000 – $100,000
Most of the gas used to heat our homes is derived from a complex assortment of pipelines. These pipelines need to be managed to ensure that the right amount of gas is delivered at the right time and in the most efficient manner possible.
A gas controller makes sure that crucial elements — such as flow, temperature, and pressure — are managed properly through the relevant readings. Liquid natural gas needs to be managed properly to avoid potential dangers and to make sure that it arrives at your home in the most efficient manner.
Water/wastewater compliance inspector
Salary: $65,000 – $75,000
In the United States, we’re fortunate that clean drinking water comes directly from the tap. This isn’t a luxury offered to many other countries, and that’s thanks to the work of the compliance inspectors who make sure the water is drinkable.
A compliance inspector will make sure that the permits and machinery of our water systems comply with state, county, and federal regulations. Judging by the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, good compliance inspectors working for a water utility can help save lives if they do their jobs.
Salary: $31,200 – $62,400
Yes, parks are a public utility too! And there are many jobs related to parks. For those who like the outdoors and want to protect the green space that we all cherish, a park ranger job can be a perfect fit.
A park ranger dealing with city parks will typically oversee safe use by the general public, manage playgrounds and other park amenities, as well as manage the parking. For those who want to work in a more rugged outdoor environment, there are a plethora of opportunities available in state and national parks across the country.
Finance or commodities trader
Salary: $100,000 – $150,000
Many public utilities have inputs, such as natural gas or oil, that they need to operate. Much of the electricity in the U.S. is powered by natural gas. As these commodities are priced in the context of a global market, traders must understand how to buy and sell the inputs used in public utilities and trade futures and derivatives related to these commodities. Good traders are essential in making sure that our energy bills don’t unexpectedly spike.
Salary: $40,000 – $70,000
Broadband as a utility is not recognized by the federal government and is instead regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. However, certain states (like Florida) now regulate broadband like they would a public utility.
Since broadband has become such a vital resource for many people, we might see it considered a utility more and more. Broadband technicians must be able to understand how broadband cables work, how to lay them, and how to fix them if there are problems.
Salary: $75,000 – $150,000
Architects are not only needed to build apartments and offices but also to design the offices and plants used in public utilities. An industrial architect can map out how to design the actual plants, such as water plants and electric plants. Furthermore, they’re needed to design offices where public officials work.
Salary: $70,000 – $120,000
Civil engineers make sure that the infrastructure of our cities, such as roads and bridges, work properly. A civil engineer can work on a wide variety of utility projects and will deal with site layouts, horizontal and vertical control, grading and drainage, paving, and site utilities.
Power systems engineer
Salary: $73,000 – $106,000
The job of a power systems engineer is similar to an electrical engineer but is a niche subset of electrical engineering that focuses on the electrical power distribution system. It’s similar to a power distribution engineer.
A power systems engineer works with an energy efficiency engineer to make sure the electrical system operation is both dynamic and efficient. They deal with the generation, transmission, distribution, and utilization of power in electrical distribution systems. Those with a background in science and engineering may be a good fit for working with the various types of electrical systems that dot the grid.
Nuclear licensing engineer
Salary: $80,000 – $140,000
A nuclear licensing engineer makes sure that all I’s are dotted and all T’s are crossed when it comes to the licensing of nuclear power plants. They also help design and operate the systems in conjunction with the nuclear criticality safety engineer. As nuclear power is complicated and can be dangerous if handled the wrong way, a nuclear licensing engineer can make sure that everything complies with regulations.
Unfortunately, not all positions pay as well as a nuclear licensing engineer. If you’re struggling to build up a savings, you may want to consider taking on a side job to make some extra cash. Take a look at some of the positions below to get started.
What is the highest-paid public utility job?
The highest-paid public utility job is not set in stone. But some of the highest-paying jobs include nuclear physicist, commodities trader, and civil engineer. Any job requiring a science, engineering, or finance degree will generally pay more because of the knowledge and skillset required.
What is the highest-paid outdoor job?
The highest-paid outdoor job in public utilities is an electrical lineman. You can potentially be paid over $100,000 per year to do this work.
Which civil service job pays the most?
According to FederalPay.org, the highest-paid civil service job is a medical officer for the federal government at $255,000 per year. A compliance officer for the Securities and Exchange Commission is another civil service job that pays well (around $205,000).
What’s the easiest government job to get?
There are many government jobs that don’t require a degree, including data entry clerk, library assistant, postal clerk, and subway operator. If you’re looking for a government job, you can search for openings at USA.gov.
What government jobs make you rich?
That depends on what “rich” means to you, although being a commodity or financial trader for the government can earn you more than $100,000 per year. Having a job working for the government can also net you great benefits, stability, and a way to help your country and the people who live in it.
- Public utilities are managed by the government or community organizations and provide price-regulated public services to the general public.
- Public utilities encompass more than energy and water. They can include telephone service, broadband, parks, and libraries.
- Engineering degrees can be beneficial when looking to work in public utilities that focus on energy, such as nuclear power and hydropower.
- High-paying blue-collar jobs, such as electrical linemen, are also well-paying and do not require a college degree.
View Article Sources
- Top 100 Federal Occupations in 2021 — FederalPay.org
- Public Utility Jobs — ZipRecruiter
- Hawaii Public Utility Jobs — State of Hawaii Public Utilities Commission
- Public power: A rich history, a bright future — American Public Power Association
- Is Broadband a Public Utility? — PolicyTracker
- Court backs rules treating Internet as utility, not luxury — Tampa Bay Times
- Electrical Lineman Salary — Comparably
- Blue-Collar vs. White-Collar Jobs: Differences & Examples — SuperMoney
- Average Income of Side Jobs – 5 Steps to Finding The Right One For You — SuperMoney
- Who Makes More Money: Athletes, Actors, National Leaders, Drug Lords or CEOs? — SuperMoney
- Is Finance a Good Career Path in 2022? — SuperMoney
- Top 10 Cities In America To Look For High Paying Jobs — SuperMoney
- Top 20 High Paying Jobs in America — SuperMoney
- Best Paying Jobs In Precious Metals Industry in 2022 — SuperMoney
- Best Side Jobs Online in 2022 — SuperMoney