15 Highest-Paying Jobs in Public Utilities

15 Highest-Paying Jobs in Public Utilities

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The public utility sector in the USA accounts for nearly 700,000 jobs. However, if you’re looking for the highest-paying jobs in the sector, the number of options is far fewer. This is further complicated by the fact that some of the highest-paying jobs lack parity in salaries and bonuses across states, so you may earn more in one state than you would in another.

The highest paying jobs in public utilities for professionals with limited experience are drilling engineer, hardware project engineer, and nuclear systems engineer. There are several other engineering jobs among the highest-paying options in the sector.

Like all major industries, the highest-paying jobs in public utilities have significant salary ranges based on the professionals’ academic credentials, experiences, and skills.

1. Jobs In The Solar Industry

  • Salary: $26 per hour.
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 131 solar jobs are available on Salarship

The solar industry is booming and many workers are required to deal with photovoltaic cells, electrical wiring, solar modules, and associated systems. Jobs in the solar industry that are high in demand include:

  • Solar Engineers
  • Solar Electrician
  • Solar technician
  • Solar Installer

Requirements: For solar installers, it is usually required to hold a high school diploma or GED and have 1-2 years of electrical training or experience. For more advanced positions, a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a relevant field: electrical or electronics might be required.

2. Drilling Engineer

  • Average Salary: 130,000 per year (on average).
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Medium Demand: 16,790 petroleum jobs are available on Salarship

Drilling engineers, also known as petroleum engineers, develop and execute safe and effective plans to drill for gas or oil at onshore or offshore wells. These engineers are also responsible for overseeing the drilling operations at the reservoir site, so the job often involves travel.

Petroleum or drilling engineers are an integral part of the core team in charge of all equipment at the oilfield or site of the gas well. Here are some of the primary responsibilities of a drilling engineer working in the public utility sector:

  • Conduct surveys, test samples, assess, and recommend sites for drilling
  • Work with other specialists for operational and compliance objectives
  • Develop financially viable and successful drilling plans with impeccable safety
  • Design equipment, if necessary, and test all the machines and devices on site

Drilling engineers are not the only petroleum engineers working in the public utility sector or at oil fields and gas wells. The other specialists are:

  • Completion engineers
  • Reservoir engineers
  • Production engineers

Requirements: Minimum bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering or mechanical, civil, and chemical engineering, among others. The engineering degree program must include geology.

3. Jobs In The Nuclear Industry

  • Average Salary: $120,000 per year (average).
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 12 nuclear energy jobs are available on Salarship

There are multiple high-paying positions in the nuclear industry, including:

  • Nuclear safety engineer
  • Nuclear systems engineer
  • Nuclear project engineer
  • Nuclear operations and power engineer

These engineers design, develop, and analyze nuclear power systems. The key responsibilities generally include the following:

  • Designing and developing equipment to generate nuclear energy, such as reactor cores
  • Developing radiation shielding and all related systems, including specialized software
  • Safe operation and proactive monitoring of active nuclear reactors and power plants
  • Maintenance, documentation, operating practices, nuclear waste management, etc.

Requirements: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in nuclear engineering. Sometimes a Ph.D. may be needed as well.

4. Hardware Engineer

  • Average Salary: ~128,000 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 72 hardware engineering jobs are available on Salarship

Hardware project engineers working in public utilities specialize in different types of equipment, including but not limited to the following:

  • Computer hardware
  • Electrical hardware
  • Mechanical hardware
  • Power electronics

Hardware engineers have to design and develop various kinds of systems. Other key responsibilities include researching and testing different hardware components. The specific public utility niche determines the scope of work and, thus, the specialization of hardware engineers.

Generally, hardware project engineers should be familiar with software and other systems that are integral to the equipment or instrumentation, including sensors.

Requirements: Minimum bachelor’s degree in hardware engineering, computer and information technology, or a related program. However, a master’s degree is often necessary.

5. Public Utilities Asset Manager

  • Average Salary: ~$105,000 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 12 public utilities manager jobs are available on Salarship

The responsibilities of a public utilities asset manager depend on the scope of the job title and the company or department hiring the professional. For instance, if the employer is a city’s water department, the key responsibilities entail civil engineering and water resources.

Likewise, the overarching profile could include electricity, gas, or other resources. Most public utilities asset managers should have experience in the domain, with relevant specializations, such as:

  • Asset management systems
  • Data assessments and reports
  • Operational and financial audits
  • Risk mitigation and contingency
  • Asset utilization and optimization
  • Predictive analysis and strategies
  • Asset reliability and troubleshooting

Requirements: A relevant bachelor’s degree in engineering. This can be in civil engineering, electrical engineering, water resources engineering, etc.

6. Jobs In Water Resources And Water Treatment

  • Average Salary: ~$90,000 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 30 water treatment jobs are available on Salarship

The water resource engineers and water treatment operators are responsible of maintaining water quality and the administration of local water departments. However, the job entails many responsibilities that aren’t limited to drinking water or the supply.

Most city departments or administrations in towns and elsewhere require a water resources engineer to deal with everything from the supply to sewage. Many departments also require these professionals to work on stormwater management and other specialized tasks.

That said, the profile of a water resources engineer is not as broad as a public utilities asset manager, and the employers are usually the relevant local body of governance. Thus, the annual salary is a tad lower than public utilities asset managers and other engineers with a broader profile.

Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in water resources engineering or a related field.

7. Embedded Software Engineer

  • Average Salary: ~$110,000 per year.
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 693 embedded software engineering jobs are available on Salarship

An embedded software engineer specializes in developing programs to control and support specialized hardware.

The public utility sector uses many types of devices or machines that aren’t like conventional computers. So, these applications require a distinct interface between hardware and software. Because of this, embedded engineers may earn more than conventional programmers or software developers.

Here are some of the core responsibilities of an embedded software engineer:

  • Designing programs and writing codes
  • Developing embedded computer software
  • Testing, maintenance, support, and upgrade

Requirements: Minimum bachelor’s degree in software engineering or a computer and information technology program. You will also need relevant skills in required languages, i.e., C++, Java, Linux, etc. (Required languages will vary depending on the job)

8. Wind Energy Engineer And Related Jobs

  • Average Salary: ~$92,000 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 22 wind energy jobs are available on Salarship

Wind energy engineers conceptualize and design the equipment and related components used at the site. These professionals are involved in everything from selecting the ideal site for a wind farm to developing and deploying the turbines and associated systems.

These engineers are distinct from wind turbine technicians. The technicians are responsible for installation, maintenance, and minor repairs. Wind turbine technicians don’t design or develop wind farms and any of the equipment, so they earn a lot less per year.

Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a related field, such as structural engineering, applied physics, or meteorology.

9. Radio Frequency Engineer

  • Average Salary: ~$105,000 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 16 radio frequency engineering jobs are available on Salarship

Radio frequency engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and deploying wireless networks, such as 5G. The specific role of a radio frequency engineering manager is likely to be much broader, including the following key responsibilities:

  • Technical design and engineering of wireless telecommunication networks
  • Communication management and coordination with all other engineers
  • Budget, planning, project supervision, schedule management, and more
  • Maintenance, upgrade, research, testing, and network security, in some cases

Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in telecommunications, electronics engineering, or a related program, such as electrical engineering, computers, or information technology.

10. Electrical Substation Engineer

  • Average Salary: ~$100,000 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 6 electrical substation engineering jobs are available on Salarship

An electrical substation engineer works with various types of equipment involved in the electric system. The job usually includes the following responsibilities:

  • Substation design
  • Schematic development
  • Assembling equipment
  • Budget and schedule
  • Evaluation of technical bids

The electrical substation engineer has a few alternate job titles, including the following:

  • Substation engineer
  • Substation design engineer
  • Substation project engineer
  • Substation project manager

It is worth noting that electrical engineers earn a bit less than substation electrical engineers.

Requirements: Minimum bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

11. Mechanical Systems Engineer

  • Average Salary: ~95,000 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 21 mechanical systems engineering jobs are available on Salarship

A mechanical systems engineer in the public utility sector evaluates, optimizes, and fixes all the systems using mechanical engineering. The specific job role may also include the following responsibilities:

  • Being in charge of mechanical devices and systems
  • Researching and testing machines, sensors, tools, etc.
  • Analyzing and solving problems, upgrading systems, etc.
  • Preventive maintenance, systems analyses, and more

Mechanical engineers are generally an integral part of most manufacturing processes. However, a mechanical systems engineer in the public utility sector may only deal with the applications of various installations, not necessarily their manufacturing.

Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology.

12. Thermal Engineer

  • Average Salary: 110,000 per year.
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 124 thermal engineering jobs are available on Salarship

Thermal engineers are primarily responsible for designing and creating mechanical structures and systems for efficient heat management, transfer, etc. While their forte is thermodynamics in many sectors, the application is largely about energy and the resulting heat in public utilities.

For instance, thermal engineers have a vital role in creating and maintaining heat management systems for power plants, whether coal or gas. These professionals are also part of the team responsible for cooling nuclear reactors.

On the application side, thermal engineers are involved in government departments and private administration of public utilities, like assessing the heating and cooling requirements to advise the decision-makers.

Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in thermal or mechanical engineering.

13. Gas Controller

  • Average Salary: ~$90,000 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 27 gas controller jobs are available on Salarship

Gas controllers monitor live data, including the following metrics:

  • Pipeline pressure
  • Flow rate or volume
  • Emergency readings

Accordingly, gas controllers adjust the pressure, temperature, or other parameters based on the infrastructure one is working with. Experienced gas controllers, such as those leading a team or at level 3, may earn as much as other engineers. However, rookies with less experience don’t.

Requirements: Subject to the criteria of the employers. Not all profiles for this job title would necessarily warrant an engineering degree.

14. Chemical Process Engineer

  • Average Salary: ~$91,000 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 22 chemical process engineering jobs are available on Salarship

A chemical process engineer in the public utility sector is largely responsible for the overall safety of the various systems involving materials. This niche is more financially rewarding in the food and pharmaceutical industries because the compliance standards are much stricter.

However, chemical materials are vital to public utilities, especially the water supply and also the fuels used in the energy sector. This job has a few alternative titles, including the following:

  • Process engineer
  • Process engineer - fuels
  • Process engineer - chemicals
  • Process engineer - utilities

Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field, such as materials science.


More Jobs in Public Utilities

There are several jobs in public utilities that pay more than those listed in this article. However, most of those profiles require experience. For instance, project management is inarguably one of the highest-paying jobs in public utilities. However, some mid-level profiles aren’t exactly rewarding.

A project manager without any technical specialization or working on a small scale may earn only around $83,000 per year. A land development project manager earns a bit more. And a manufacturing project manager has a better salary than those working on land development.

In comparison, product managers with technical degrees and experience earn over $100,000, and so do engineering managers in general. However, performance engineers and mid-level professionals working on systems validation are experienced people, not entry-level aspirants.

Similarly, energy managers or directors of project management earn well more than $100,000, but they aren’t entry-level jobseekers, either. Only a few administrative jobs pay as much as or higher than the technical profiles unless one makes it to a senior executive or management role.

The other entry-level jobs aren’t among the most rewarding financially. Entry-level meter readers may earn around $40,000 per year. Tower technicians with the responsibility of maintaining their sites and working on minor faults and maintenance rarely earn more than $50,000 per year.

Private utility companies and government departments don’t have identical salaries, nor are the bonuses similar. Hence, the figures are likely to vary substantially, but the overall trend of public utility jobs favoring engineers applies to all the states, regardless of the employer.