Careers in Public Power4 min read
If you were to ask someone to think about a career in public power, the noble electric lineworker would undoubtedly be the first thing that comes to mind. It comes as no surprise – lineworkers are the folks who keep the lights on and the electric flowing, making the correlation obvious.
However, one fact that is surprising to some is just how many employment opportunities there are within the industry. Public power is a big sector with a lot of moving parts requiring experts of every stripe to keep it running effectively.
With more than 2,000 public power utilities across the country providing power to more than 49 million people, the industry employs an estimated 93,000 individuals according to the American Public Power Association (APPA). While the most recognizable career path within the industry is and will always be the electric lineworker, it is far from the only one.
Public power is a diverse sector with many different staffing needs. It is important to attract professionals of every field to the industry. For example:
- A utility cannot function without the financial experts needed to handle annual budgets, tax documents, audits and more. Accountants, billing specialists and other professionals in finance ensure that public power organizations remain fiscally sound.
- Electric utilities oversee some of the country’s most important infrastructure in the form of electric lines, distribution facilities and generation plants, those assets are at great risk without talented technology experts keeping an eye on them. Information technology specialists protect the industry’s vital facilities from cyberattacks while overseeing some of the many technological revolutions that are currently taking place.
- Engineers help to design, build, repair and maintain the infrastructure belonging to public power utilities. Whether their focus is mechanical, civil or electrical, engineers are integral to ensuring reliable and safe electric generation and distribution.
- A municipality can thrive when businesses come to town, and economic development experts help to attract and retain new commercial operations on behalf of a public power utility or organization. Public power offers many benefits that investor owned utilities cannot, and those benefits are the perfect bait for a qualified economic and business development professional to attract new commercial customers.
Countless other professions within public power are important to successful utility operations. With much of our workforce heading for retirement, it is paramount that the industry works to ensure that the brightest and best professionals available are aware of the many career paths that public power offers.
However, when it comes to attracting prospective employees, making them aware of job opportunities is only half the battle. We must also endeavor to make them aware of the benefits that a career in public power provides.
- One major benefit that all organizations within public power share is the opportunity for employees to find a career in a community-oriented job that lets you give back, just by coming into work every day. Whether big, small or somewhere in between, there is a public power community for everyone, and employees can get paid to help make their homes a better place.
- Prospective employees that are looking for an exciting field will find an industry that is in the midst of a number of technological revolutions. Electric vehicle charging, distributed energy resources, blockchain, cloud technologies and energy storage are just a few of the things that utilities across the country are beginning to face. Employees will be on the front lines of the study and implementation of these technologies and will find ample opportunity to deal with new and exciting ideas.
- Electricity is what makes the modern world move, and no matter what the circumstances may be, it must always keep flowing. From studio apartments to major multi-national manufacturers, everyone needs electricity, which is what makes a job in public power so reliable. Even during times of economic downturn, job security in the industry remains high.
- With many older employees in public power quickly approaching their retirement, a number of important positions are about to open up. For the prospective employee who is looking for room to grow a career, public power offers the perfect opportunity. Getting in on the ground floor now means that employees will be in a great position for upwards mobility in the workplace.
In truth, the list of benefits from a career in public power is endless and varies by individual utility. Simply determine which benefits best apply to your utility and do your best to put that information out into the world.
AMP kicks off each new year with a social media campaign, and in 2020, our campaign focused on this very issue. On Jan. 1, we launched the 20 Careers in Public Power for 2020 campaign where we highlight 20 different career paths throughout the year on our social media pages. Members are encouraged to share these graphics on their own social media pages and utilize them to promote careers in their communities. Additionally, we offer a communications toolkit that focuses on the topic of careers in public power that is available on the Public Power Connections page of the AMP website’s Member Extranet.
Lastly, it is important that we make openings and opportunities in public power more visible. When you have a new job opening, look to spread it as far as you can. Social media has become a great tool for getting additional eyes on job postings, and AMP provides members with free space to post job ads in our weekly e-newsletter, Update, and in the careers section of the AMP website (www.amppartners.org/careers).
As always, AMP is here to assist our members in their outreach efforts. Should you have any questions about promoting public power or accessing the promotional materials available on the extranet, please feel free to contact Holly Karg, assistant vice president of communications and public relations, at [email protected]. If you would like to post a classified ad in Update, please contact Zachary Hoffman, manager of communications and publications, at [email protected].