About 227,000 jobs-almost 38 percent of all wage and salary jobs in the utilities industry-were in production or installation, maintenance, and repair occupations. About 23 percent of jobs were in office and administrative support occupations; almost 14 percent were in professional and related occupations; and about 13 percent were in management, business, and financial occupations. The remaining jobs were in construction, transportation, sales, and service occupations.
Workers in production and installation, maintenance, and repair occupations install and maintain pipelines and powerlines, operate and fix plant machinery, and monitor treatment processes. For example, electrical powerline installers and repairers install and repair cables or wires used in electrical power or distribution systems. They install insulators, wooden poles, and light-duty or heavy-duty transmission towers. First-line supervisors and managers directly supervise and coordinate the activities of production and repair workers. These supervisors ensure that workers use and maintain equipment and materials properly and efficiently to maximize productivity.
Production occupations include power plant operators, power distributors, and dispatchers, and water and liquid waste treatment plant operators. Power plant operators control or operate machinery, such as stream-driven turbine generators, to generate electric power, often using control boards or semi-automatic equipment. Power distributors and dispatchers coordinate, regulate, or distribute electricity or steam in generating stations, over transmission lines to substations, and over electric power lines. Water and liquid waste treatment plant and system operators control the process of treating water or wastewater, take samples of water for testing, and may perform maintenance of treatment plants.
Industrial machinery mechanics install, repair, and maintain machinery in power generating stations, gas plants, and water treatment plants. They repair and maintain the mechanical components of generators, waterwheels, water-inlet controls, and piping in generating stations; steam boilers, condensers, pumps, compressors, and similar equipment in gas manufacturing plants; and equipment used to process and distribute water for public and industrial uses.
General maintenance and repair workers perform work involving a variety of maintenance skills to keep machines, mechanical equipment, and the structure of an establishment in repair. Generally found in small establishments, these workers have duties that may involve pipefitting, boilermaking, electrical work, carpentry, welding, and installing new equipment.
Office and administrative support occupations account for about a quarter of jobs in the utilities industry. Customer service representatives interview applicants for water, gas, and electric service. They talk with customers by phone or in person and receive orders for installation, turn-on, discontinuance, or change in service. General office clerks may do bookkeeping, typing, stenography, office machine operation, and filing. Utilities meter readers read electric, gas, water, or steam consumption meters visually or remotely using radio transmitters and record the volume used by residential and industrial customers. Financial clerks, such as bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, compute, classify, and record numerical data to keep financial records complete. They perform any combination of routine calculating, posting, and verifying duties to obtain primary financial data for use in maintaining accounting records.
Professional and related occupations in this industry include engineers and computer specialists. Engineers develop technologies that allow, for example, utilities to produce and transmit gas and electricity more efficiently and water more cleanly. They also may develop improved methods of landfill or wastewater treatment operations in order to maintain compliance with government regulations. Computer specialists develop computer systems to automate utility processes; provide plant simulators for operator training; and improve operator decision making. Engineering technicians assist engineers in research activities and may conduct some research independently.
Managers and administrators in the utilities industry plan, organize, direct, and coordinate management activities. They often are responsible for maintaining an adequate supply of electricity, gas, water, steam, or sanitation service.