Top 22 Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities

By Agwaonye Samuel

Published:

Occupations & Careers

Agwaonye Samuel

Agwaonye Samuel

Writer & Career Coach

The public utilities sector plays a critical role in delivering essential services like water, electricity, and natural gas to communities. Public Utility Workers ensure that households and businesses have reliable access to these necessities. 

Professionals in the public utilities sector are often drawn to the industry due to competitive salaries and attractive employee benefits packages. This guide offers insights into the 22 best-paying jobs in public utilities, making it a valuable resource for those interested in this essential industry.

Top 22 Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities

Before we dive into our list, it’s crucial to understand how we picked these jobs. So, what makes a job worthy of being on our best-paying list?

Let’s break down our criteria:

  • Average Salary: To ensure that we feature jobs that truly pay well, we’ve turned to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Our focus has been on professions that consistently offer salaries above the annual mean wage, which stands at $89,060
  • Skills Required: We’ve taken the demand for certain skills that influence the compensation packages into consideration by highlighting positions where the skills required can command better compensation. 

With these criteria as our foundation, here are the 22 Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities.

Best-Paying Utility Jobs

The utility industry, responsible for delivering essential services like electricity, water, and natural gas, is the cornerstone of modern society. Utility jobs within this sector offer not only job stability but also the chance to make a meaningful impact while enjoying competitive compensation and benefits.

Here are a few:

1. Utility Manager/Director

One of the top-paying careers in the public utilities sector is that of a Utility Manager or Director. These professionals are the driving force behind the efficient delivery of essential services to communities.

  • Primary Duties: Oversee the operations of public utilities, such as water, wastewater, or electrical systems. Develop and implement strategic plans, manage budgets, and ensure compliance with regulations. Optimize service delivery, and infrastructure maintenance, and address emergency situations promptly.
  • Skills Required: Strong leadership and strategic planning abilities. Deep understanding of the specific utility managed, along with expertise in regulatory compliance and resource management. Effective communication and decision-making skills are vital for navigating complex challenges.
  • Average Salary: Utility Managers/Directors command a competitive salary, with an average annual income ranging from $106,099 to $150,940

2. Civil Engineer

Civil Engineers are the architects of essential infrastructure, playing a pivotal role in shaping communities. They design, manage, and ensure the integrity of critical projects that facilitate the functioning of public utilities.

  • Primary Duties: Supervising the planning and construction of vital infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, water supply systems, and wastewater treatment facilities. Ensuring projects are executed efficiently, safely, and in compliance with regulations. 
  • Skills Required: Grasp of engineering principles, proficiency in design and analysis software, and mathematical aptitude. Excel in project management, problem-solving, and communication to collaborate effectively with construction teams, government agencies, and stakeholders.
  • Average Salary: The average annual salary of civil engineers is $88,934

3. Electrical Engineer

For those particular about power, lighting up homes, businesses, and communities, becoming an electrical engineer will provide fulfillment. They are the architects of power, ensuring that homes, businesses, and communities have a reliable source of electricity.

  • Primary Duties: Design, maintain, and oversee electrical systems. They create blueprints, ensure safety compliance and efficiency standards, manage equipment maintenance, and lead electrical projects.
  • Skills Required: Strong knowledge of electrical principles, effective troubleshooting, project management, clear communication, safety focus, and regulatory compliance. Safety awareness and adherence to regulations are paramount.
  • Average Salary: Electrical Engineers in public utilities earn around $95,981 annually.

4. Power Systems Engineer

Power Systems Engineers are experts in energy flow, ensuring the reliable transmission and distribution of electricity to homes, businesses, and industries is an exciting job.

  • Primary Duties: Designing and optimizing electrical grids, monitoring power generation and distribution, and troubleshooting issues to maintain a consistent energy supply.
  • Skills Required: This role demands expertise in electrical engineering, grid design, data analysis, and problem-solving. Effective communication, project management, and the ability to adapt to evolving technologies are essential.
  • Average Salary: Power Systems Engineers’ salaries vary, but they typically earn an average of $110,288 per year.

5. Energy Underwriter

For professionals seeking a dynamic career at the intersection of finance and energy, becoming an Energy Underwriter offers a stimulating opportunity. Energy Underwriters evaluate and manage risks associated with energy-related projects, ensuring financial stability in a rapidly evolving industry.

  • Primary Duties: Assess and analyze risks in energy projects, collaborate with clients and brokers, and develop insurance policies tailored to the unique challenges of the energy sector. Stay informed about industry trends, assess project feasibility, and make data-driven decisions to protect their organization’s financial interests.
  • Skills Required: Strong understanding of finance and risk assessment, excellent analytical skills, and the ability to communicate complex information effectively. Energy Underwriters must adapt to evolving energy technologies and regulations, work collaboratively with clients and colleagues, and demonstrate a keen eye for detail.
  • Average Salary: Energy Underwriters can anticipate a competitive salary, often with an annual median income of $103,000.

6. Public Utility Attorney

For legal professionals with a passion for ensuring the proper functioning of public utilities and the fair treatment of consumers, a career as a Public Utility Attorney is an intellectually stimulating and impactful role.

  • Primary Duties: Provide legal counsel to public utility companies, government agencies, and consumer advocacy groups. Public Utility Attorneys also provide regulatory compliance, contract negotiations, dispute resolution, and representing clients in legal proceedings.
  • Skills Required: A deep understanding of utility regulations, contract law, and administrative law. Strong analytical and research skills are essential, as is the ability to communicate complex legal concepts effectively.
  • Average Salary: Public Utility Attorneys often earn an annual median income of $135,740. Experienced attorneys with a track record of success in utility law may command higher salaries.

7. Transmission Line Engineer

Those interested in engineering and a desire to shape the infrastructure that powers communities, consider a career as a Transmission Line Engineer. These professionals play a pivotal role in designing and maintaining the critical transmission lines that deliver electricity across regions.

  • Primary Duties: Design, construction, and maintenance of electrical transmission lines. Efficient and safe transfer of electricity over long distances, manage projects and address issues such as equipment failures or damage to the lines.
  • Skills Required: Strong foundation in electrical engineering, expertise in structural and mechanical design, and proficiency in relevant software. Adept at project management, problem-solving, and working collaboratively with interdisciplinary teams.
  • Average Salary: Transmission Line Engineers typically earn a professional income between $64,000 and $129,000 per year.

8. Geoscientist

For those intrigued by the Earth’s mysteries and a flare for ensuring responsible resource management, a career as a Geoscientist offers an exciting avenue.

  • Primary Duties: Investigate the Earth’s geological processes and resources, analyze data, conduct field studies, and provide critical insights for the sustainable management of resources like water and minerals.
  • Skills Required: Expertise in geology, strong analytical skills, and proficiency in data analysis tools. Excellent problem-solving abilities, attention to detail, and the capacity to convey complex geological findings effectively.
  • Average Salary: Geoscientists can expect competitive compensation. The average annual salary is $87,480, depending on experience, location, and project scope. Experienced geoscientists and those specializing in high-demand areas may command higher salaries.

Best Paying Jobs in Renewable Energy

Renewable energy harnesses the power of naturally replenishing resources like sunlight, wind, and geothermal heat to provide a sustainable and eco-friendly source of power. It offers a solution to combat climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and decrease our reliance on finite fossil fuels.

Here are some jobs in this field: 

9. Wind Site Manager

Stepping into the world of renewable energy and overseeing the vast turbines that harness the power of the wind—that’s the life of a Wind Site Manager. This role offers not just a rewarding career but also the chance to contribute to sustainable energy solutions.

  • Primary Duties: Wind Site Managers are responsible for the operation and maintenance of wind farms. Their tasks include monitoring turbine performance, scheduling maintenance, ensuring safety protocols, and optimizing energy production.
  • Skills Required: Trustworthiness, strong organizational skills, adaptability to varying environmental conditions, and technical knowledge of wind turbine systems. The ability to handle unexpected situations, such as equipment failures or adverse weather conditions is important.
  • Average Salary: Wind Site Managers have an average annual income of $81,119, depending on experience, location, and the size of the wind farm. 

10. Wind Turbine Technician

Wind Turbine Technicians are at the forefront of sustainable energy, high above the ground, working on colossal wind turbines that gracefully harness the power of the wind. That’s the daily adventure of a Wind Turbine Technician, where the path to a rewarding career aligns perfectly with environmental sustainability.

  • Primary Duties: Wind Turbine Technicians are responsible for the maintenance and repair of wind turbines. Their tasks include performing routine inspections, troubleshooting issues, and ensuring that the turbines operate at peak efficiency.
  • Skills Required: Technical proficiency in wind turbine systems, strong problem-solving skills, adaptability to various environmental conditions, and a commitment to safety. Wind Turbine Technicians also need to work at heights and handle physically demanding tasks.
  • Average Salary: Wind Turbine Technicians earn a professional annual salary of $66,933

11. Hydroelectric Plant Technician

Hydroelectric Plant Technicians are the hands-on professionals behind the generation of clean energy in the public utilities sector, ensuring the efficient operation of hydroelectric power facilities.

  • Primary Duties: Hydroelectric Plant Technicians oversee the maintenance and operation of hydroelectric power plants. They monitor equipment, troubleshoot issues, perform routine inspections, and ensure the turbines and generators run smoothly.
  • Skills Required: Deep understanding of hydroelectric systems and machinery. Strong mechanical and technical skills for equipment maintenance and readiness to work in various weather conditions. Attention to safety protocols and effective communication with the plant team is crucial.
  • Average Salary: Hydroelectric Plant Technicians typically earn average annual salaries ranging between $64,310 and $113,122.

12. Environmental Engineer

In the public utilities sector, Environmental Engineers are the architects of sustainability, working diligently to minimize the environmental impact of essential infrastructure projects.

  • Primary Duties: Design and implement solutions to reduce the environmental impact of public utilities projects. Conduct environmental impact assessments, ensure compliance with regulations, and develop strategies for waste management and pollution control.
  • Skills Required: Strong grasp of environmental principles, regulatory knowledge, and technical expertise. Analytical and problem-solving skills, effective communication, and the ability to work with cross-functional teams and regulatory agencies.
  • Average Salary: Environmental Engineers can expect a median wage of $85,206 annually. 

13. Solar Power Technician

For those passionate about renewable energy and eager to work in diverse environments, a career as a Solar Power Technician might be the perfect choice. These technicians work with solar energy systems in a range of locations, from urban settings to remote areas.

  • Primary Duties: Installation, maintenance, and repair of solar energy systems. Assess the energy needs of clients, design customized solar solutions, and install photovoltaic panels. Perform routine inspections, monitor system performance, and make necessary adjustments to ensure optimal energy production.
  • Skills Required: Deep understanding of solar energy systems and the ability to work with specialized equipment. Strong problem-solving skills, adaptability to varied work environments, and keen observational abilities to assess system performance. Effective communication with clients and the ability to instruct and educate them on energy efficiency are crucial.
  • Average Salary: The earning potential for Solar Power Technicians can vary but the average annual income ranges from $58,013 to $76,505

Best Paying Jobs in Non-Renewable Energy

Non-renewable energy sources, such as fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) and nuclear power, have long been the backbone of global energy production. While these resources play a pivotal role in meeting our energy needs, they also give rise to an array of opportunities in the non-renewable energy sector.

Here are some jobs in this field:

14. Petroleum Engineer

A career as a Petroleum Engineer may be the perfect fit for those drawn to the world of non-renewable energy. These engineers are at the forefront of the oil and gas industry, responsible for the exploration, extraction, and production of valuable energy resources.

  • Primary Duties: Petroleum Engineers design and oversee the drilling of wells, ensuring efficient extraction of oil and gas. They analyze geological data, develop drilling plans, and oversee drilling operations. Engineers also implement strategies to maximize resource recovery and manage the environmental impact of extraction.
  • Skills Required: Strong understanding of petroleum geology, drilling techniques, and reservoir engineering. Analytical and problem-solving skills to optimize production and minimize environmental impact. Effective communication and teamwork skills are crucial for collaborating with multidisciplinary teams in the oil and gas industry.
  • Average Salary: Petroleum Engineers typically earn competitive salaries, with an average annual income of $145,720

15. Drilling Engineer

Drilling Engineers are offered an opportunity to be at the forefront of resource extraction. These engineers play a vital role in the exploration, design, and management of drilling operations for oil and gas resources.

  • Primary Duties: Drilling Engineers plan and execute drilling projects. They analyze geological data, design drilling programs, and oversee the drilling process, ensuring efficient and safe extraction of oil and gas resources. 
  • Skills Required: A deep understanding of drilling techniques, reservoir engineering, and geological principles. Strong problem-solving skills to address complex drilling challenges and make decisions that optimize resource recovery. Effective communication and teamwork skills are crucial for collaborating with diverse teams within the energy sector.
  • Average Salary: Drilling Engineers’ earnings vary but they can earn a professional average salary of $120,000 annually. 

16. Nuclear Engineer

Nuclear Engineers, a cornerstone of the energy sector, hold the key to harnessing the incredible power of nuclear energy, ensuring its safe and efficient use.

  • Primary Duties: Nuclear Engineers design, operate, and maintain nuclear power plants and related systems. They oversee the intricate processes of nuclear reactions, ensuring the production of electricity, and managing safety protocols to prevent potential hazards. 
  • Skills Required: A deep understanding of nuclear physics, radiation protection, and nuclear plant operations. Nuclear Engineers must excel in problem-solving, data analysis, and have strong mathematical abilities. They should also have a high degree of safety consciousness, effective communication, and the ability to collaborate with multidisciplinary teams.
  • Average Salary: Nuclear Engineers earn a median wage of $122,480. Seasoned Nuclear Engineers with expertise in nuclear safety or advanced reactor technology often earn higher salaries.

17. Nuclear Power Plant Operators

Operating a nuclear power plant is a role that requires precision and dedication. Nuclear Power Plant Operators ensure the safe and efficient generation of electricity while maintaining the integrity of critical nuclear facilities.

  • Primary Duties: Operation of nuclear reactors, monitoring safety systems, adjusting control rods, and overseeing power production. Conduct routine equipment inspections and are prepared to respond to emergency situations, such as shutdowns or equipment malfunctions.
  • Skills Required: A high level of responsibility and trustworthiness. Operators need to be well-versed in nuclear plant operations, radiation safety, and emergency procedures. Effective problem-solving, clear communication, and the ability to remain composed under pressure are vital.
  • Average Salary: Nuclear Power Plant Operators earn a professional income between $76,360 and $133,170 annually.

18. Nuclear Licensing Engineer

Steering the course of energy generation within the confines of safety—that’s the role of a Nuclear Licensing Engineer. It’s a profession that comes with significant responsibility, but it also offers rewarding opportunities in the field of nuclear energy.

  • Primary Duties: Nuclear Licensing Engineers ensure nuclear facilities comply with stringent safety regulations. They conduct inspections, assess and address potential risks, and help maintain the integrity of nuclear power plants. 
  • Skills Required: Engineers must possess a high level of technical expertise in nuclear energy systems and safety protocols. Attention to detail, analytical skills, and a deep understanding of regulatory compliance are essential. Effective communication and a proactive approach to problem-solving are crucial in this highly specialized field.
  • Average Salary: Nuclear Licensing Engineers are rewarded for their expertise, with an average annual salary of $91,142

19. Nuclear Criticality Safety Engineer

Stepping into the heart of nuclear facilities and ensuring they operate safely is the job of a Nuclear Criticality Safety Engineer. This job role involves safeguarding against criticality accidents and maintaining the integrity of nuclear systems.

  • Primary Duties: Nuclear Criticality Safety Engineers evaluate and maintain the criticality safety of nuclear processes and facilities. They also assess and design safety protocols, perform risk assessments, and ensure that nuclear operations proceed without any criticality accidents.
  • Skills Required: Nuclear Criticality Safety Engineer must have exceptional analytical and problem-solving skills. They must also have a deep understanding of nuclear physics, safety regulations, and radiation protection. 
  • Average Salary: On average, Nuclear Criticality Safety Engineers earn a median salary of $104,479 annually.

Emerging Public Utility Fields with High Salary Potential

As our world evolves, so too do the demands and challenges placed on the public utilities sector. The concept of public utilities has traditionally revolved around water, electricity, and natural gas services, but in today’s dynamic landscape, new horizons are emerging.

Here are some of the jobs in this emerging field: 

20. Smart Grid Technology

Smart Grid Technology Specialists are at the forefront of revolutionizing the way electricity is managed and distributed, making it more efficient and environmentally friendly.

  • Primary Duties: Implementation and maintenance of smart grid systems. Integrating advanced technologies like sensors, automation, and data analytics to enhance the reliability and efficiency of electrical grids. Specialists troubleshoot issues, monitor system performance, and collaborate with utility providers to ensure optimal grid operation.
  • Skills Required: Strong grasp of electrical systems, automation, and data analysis. Adept at problem-solving and adapting to emerging technologies in the field. Effective communication skills are crucial for collaborating with utility providers and other stakeholders. An understanding of cybersecurity in the context of smart grids is also important.
  • Average Salary: Smart Grid Technology Specialists can earn an average annual income of $263,060

21. Waste-to-Energy Technologies

Waste-to-energy technicians are at the intersection of sustainability and public utilities. These professionals play a crucial role in converting waste materials into clean, renewable energy.

  • Primary Duties: Operate and maintain equipment that converts various waste materials, such as municipal solid waste or biomass, into energy. Oversee the entire process, from waste collection to energy generation. Monitor equipment performance, troubleshoot issues, and ensure safety and environmental compliance.
  • Skills Required: A strong technical background to operate and maintain complex machinery. Good understanding of waste-to-energy processes, safety protocols, and environmental regulations. Problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and a commitment to sustainable practices are essential in this role.
  • Average Salary: Waste-to-Energy Technicians can expect an average annual income of $96,530

22. Cybersecurity for Utilities

Those interested in protecting critical infrastructure and ensuring the seamless delivery of essential services can take up a career as a Cybersecurity Specialist for Utilities.

  • Primary Duties: Safeguarding critical systems against cyber threats. Develop and implement security protocols, monitor network activity, and respond to potential breaches promptly. Ensuring the integrity and availability of utility services.
  • Skills Required: A deep understanding of cybersecurity principles, threat detection, and network protection is essential for success in this role. Possess strong analytical skills to identify vulnerabilities and recommend solutions. Effective communication and collaboration with utility teams are vital for addressing security concerns and implementing protective measures.
  • Average Salary: Cybersecurity Specialists have an average annual income ranging from $84,000 to $142,000

Is Public Utilities a Good Industry To Work In?

Whether or not the public utilities industry is a good industry to work in depends on individual preferences, skills, and career goals.

Here are some factors to consider when evaluating this industry:

Pros of Working in Public Utilities

  • Job Stability: Jobs in this sector often offer high job stability, as there will always be a demand for water, electricity, and gas.
  • Competitive Salary: The public utilities sector offers competitive pay and benefits, especially for those that are classed as high-risk, and require technical expertise or specialized skills. The salaries reflect in these roles, recognizing the importance of its workforce and aiming to attract top talent. 
  • Opportunity for Growth: The public utilities industry is constantly evolving, with advancements in technology and sustainability driving new job opportunities. This provides room for career growth and development.
  • Technological Advancements: The industry is embracing technology and innovation, offering the chance to work on cutting-edge solutions for issues like energy efficiency, renewable energy, and cybersecurity.

Cons of Working in Public Utilities

However, there are some potential downsides to consider:

  • Regulatory Challenges: Public utilities are subject to various regulations, which can be complex and may impact decision-making and operations. Continuous learning and staying updated with new technologies are essential in this industry due to its dynamic nature. Utility professionals must keep abreast of evolving laws, policies, and safety standards to ensure compliance and operational efficiency. 
  • Environmental and Safety Concerns: Some positions in public utilities, particularly those in power generation or wastewater treatment, can involve working with potentially hazardous materials or situations. The industry poses physical risks due to potentially dangerous environments, and the responsibility for ensuring public safety can create high levels of mental stress for workers.
  • Geographic Considerations: When exploring career opportunities in the public utilities sector, it’s crucial to consider the significant impact of geography on job availability and salary levels. While some roles, such as wind farm technicians, may be area-specific, primarily found in rural settings with ample wind resources, other positions, like electrical engineers or utility managers, tend to be more location-flexible. These geographical nuances can influence salary levels, with metropolitan areas often offering higher compensation to offset the higher cost of living.
  • Long Working Hours and Shift Work: Many jobs in public utilities involve irregular hours and shift work, disrupting work-life balance and potentially leading to physical and mental fatigue.

Agwaonye Samuel

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