Top 15 Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities (Updated 2023)

Top 15 Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities    

As more and more positions are being generated in the public utility sector every day, there is now plenty of opportunity. Each degree of skill and expertise has a large number of scops.

If you’ve been looking for a secure, well-paying job in a much needed career field – basically making these positions “future proof” look no further than the top 15 best paying jobs in public utilities.

You’ll not only be making a great living in these careers, but you’ll also be making sure that the communities you are working in can leverage the utilities – power and water – that they need, too.

Check out our article on the Best Paying Jobs in Energy

What is a Job in the Public Utilities Industry?

Jobs in Public utilities are responsible for handling the heavy lifting of keeping our lights on, keeping our homes heated, and making sure that we have access to clean, safe water every time we open a tap.

While many of these jobs could be considered blue-collar, not all of the positions available in the public utility industry are “on the line”. There is a position for everyone that wants to be a positive factor in their community.

Some of these jobs deal exclusively with electricity, some of them deal with nuclear and natural gas, and others have to do with keeping the water running. At the end of the day, though, all of these jobs are hugely vital for their community and a big part of keeping the fabric of society whole.

Are Public Utilities Jobs a Good Career Path?


For one thing, because of the significance of these positions they are always well-paid career fields. The work is important and the financial reward earned by those working in these careers is pretty substantial.

Secondly, the work you’ll be doing is of huge importance to the local community.

Without these jobs, most of the modern conveniences we so often take for granted wouldn’t work. The lights wouldn’t come on, the heat wouldn’t keep us warm, our appliances would fail, and our drinking and bathing water wouldn’t be safe.

It’s not hard to find these jobs enriching, especially when you know that you’re making a huge contribution to your community and are playing a vital role in keeping it going.

One of the best things about these careers is that while many of them look for college-educated employees, most will be more than happy to take on newcomers that are willing to go through on-the-job training, get training at a technical school, or take apprenticeships.

Top 15 Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities 

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1. Electrical Engineer

Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities-Electrical Engineer

Median Salary – $78,737

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 3% Over 10 Years

You’d be forgiven for thinking that electrical engineers only ever work on electrical utilities – but that’s not exactly right.

While electrical engineers are (obviously) a huge piece of the puzzle in keeping electrical systems functioning, they also work on the equipment that produces and distributes electricity; but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

At the end of the day, if there are electrical systems that need to be deployed, maintained, repaired, upgraded, or replaced the odds are pretty good that a professional electrical engineer is going to be handling the bulk of that work.

2. Nuclear License Engineer

Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities-Nuclear License Engineer

Median Salary – $120,814

Education – Bachelor’s Degree and Nuke Certifications

Projected Growth – 4% Over 5 Years

Nuclear power is becoming more and more important to our energy plans, and nuclear licensing engineers are seeing a lot more responsibility come their way because of it.

The sophistication and safety concerns of nuclear power plants demand that there are people responsible for making sure everything is done according to local laws and federal regulations – and that’s where nuclear licensing engineers come into play.

These kinds of engineers are often responsible for not just making sure their nuclear plant is complying with all laws and regulations, but that the nuclear plant is being run as safely as possible as well.

3. Nuclear Safety Engineer

Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities-Nuclear Safety Engineer

Median Salary – $90,673

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 4% Over 5 Years

Nuclear safety engineers take the job of the nuclear licensing engineer to the next level, and these professionals are the “first line of defense” to make sure that everything happening on a nuclear site is done by the book.

Some of the responsibilities that fall squarely on the shoulders of nuclear safety engineers include, but aren’t limited to, making sure that nuclear material is stored and managed properly, that it is transported properly, and that equipment is running the way it should be.

Nuclear safety engineers are also very proactive. They regularly inspect the site, look for ways that things could be done better and safer, and are responsible for investigating any accidents that might occur.

4. Power Plant Engineer

Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities-Power Plant Engineer

Median Salary – $96,864

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 5% Over 5 Years

Professional powerplant engineers are on the hook for making sure that day-to-day operations run smoothly, efficiently, and safely.

These engineers are often called in to handle preventative maintenance, upgrades and overhauls, and any critical and essential repairs to the powerplant infrastructure itself. It’s not at all uncommon for the regular workweek to include site inspections, regular maintenance work, and scheduled upgrades.

5. Power System Engineer

Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities-Power System Engineer

Median Salary – $82,685

Education – Associate’s Degree

Projected Growth – 5% Over 5 Years

When it’s time to inspect, repair, or upgrade essential power systems the call goes to a power system engineer.

Making sure that electrical metering is working correctly, that systems are designed and implemented as safely and as efficiently as possible, and that power distribution happens seamlessly around-the-clock – 24/7, 365 days a year – are the major responsibilities of these experts.

A college education is usually a requirement for these positions, but you don’t necessarily need to have a bachelor’s. An Associate’s degree is often all that’s necessary and some public utilities will take eager workers interested in learning on the job aboard as well.

6. Power Transmission Engineer

Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities-Power Transmission Engineer

Median Salary – $91,215

Education – Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree

Projected Growth – 3% Over 10 Years

It isn’t at all uncommon for professional power transmission engineers to have a deep educational background, almost always a Bachelor’s degree but often a Master’s degree as well.

That makes a lot of sense when you realize just how technical these kinds of positions are.

Power transmission engineers have to design power transmission systems, regularly inspect the same systems, and maintain electrical transmission infrastructure (including transmission lines) all year round.

7. Radiation Engineer

Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities-Radiation Engineer

Median Salary – $104,068

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 4% Over 5 Years

Anytime you are dealing with nuclear power you have to be sure that the site is 100% safe 100% of the time. There can’t be accidents, there can be mistakes, and there can’t be missteps when you’re dealing with something this powerful and this potentially dangerous.

Radiation engineers spend their time inspecting every area and bit of infrastructure in nuclear power plants. They are looking for signs of too high radiation but are also looking for ways to manage and mitigate the inevitable impact that radiation will have on critical systems and personnel.

A lot of radiation engineers are also responsible for helping the nuclear site management team come up with safer, more effective, and more sustainable ways to work with nuclear energy and eliminate the risks that radiation poses.

8. Substation Engineer

Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities-Substation Engineer

Median Salary – $119,892

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 3% Over 10 Years

Substation engineers are often very highly educated, though it’s possible to begin at a public utility with a Bachelor’s degree. More often than not, though, these kinds of professionals have more advanced degrees in engineering and certainly have a lot of time spent learning on the job under those that have years and years of experience.

The design of substations (a critical part of public utility infrastructure and a major way that our power is distributed throughout local communities) falls squarely on the shoulders of substation engineers.

These experts aren’t just involved during the design phase, though. They are also a big part of the puzzle when it comes to overseeing the day-to-day operation of those projects, inspecting the substations to make sure they are operating effectively, and making recommendations about when to upgrade and overall substations, too.

9. Utility Engineer

Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities-Utility Engineer

Median Salary – $73,570

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 3% Over 10 Years

The utility engineer “umbrella” of positions encompasses a whole bunch of different jobs and responsibilities in the public utility world.

Every utility – electrical utilities, water utilities, natural gas utilities, nuclear utilities, etc. – is going to have a bunch of utility engineers working on them all the time.

At the end of the day, these are the experts responsible for making sure that utilities get delivered to homes and businesses throughout a local community. Sometimes that means they are working on infrastructure, sometimes that means they are making repairs, and sometimes that means they are overhauling or implementing new systems to improve deliverability.

A Bachelor’s degree is often necessary to get your foot in the door in these kinds of positions. Sometimes, though, public utility companies will bring new trainees and apprentices in to learn the ropes.

10. Water Engineer

Median Salary – $72,118

Education – Associate’s Degree

Projected Growth – 4% Over 10 Years

Working with water can be one of the most challenging parts of the public utility sector, and water engineers are always in high demand.

Repairing pump stations, maintaining and upgrading or building out new pipelines, inspecting and repairing water mains, and handling pretty much everything that has to do with wastewater systems are in the wheelhouse of water engineers.

If it has to do with water delivery or water management in any way, shape, or form at a public utility these are the experts that are going to be taking care of things.

11. Utility Manager

Median Salary – $86,929

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 18% Over 10 Years

On the management side of things, utility managers work with different municipal offices and delivery companies to make sure that services are available to homes and businesses throughout the community at competitive prices.

Utility managers are also going to be the managers that oversee facility operations. They handle the scheduling, making sure that professionals are deployed to the right places at the right time, and that public utilities are running smoothly like a Swiss watch.

It’s not at all uncommon for utility managers to get out into the field regularly (at least a couple of times a week) to do site inspections. They also often like to have a little more personal contact with the teams of utility employees, making sure that they are fully supported with everything they need to get the job done right.

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12. Pipeline Controller

Median Salary – $94,937

Education – Formal Training and Professional Certifications

Projected Growth – 9% Over 10 Years

One of the top 15 best paying jobs in public utilities for those that haven’t necessarily gone to college (though many pipeline controllers do have at least some college education), this position involves a little bit of regular travel – but it is very, very lucrative.

Pipeline controllers are the boots on the ground that spend time inspecting pipelines for any leaks, any degradation, and any repairs that need to be made ASAP. They also recommend preventative maintenance and upgrades that might boost the safety and efficiency of the pipeline systems.

On top of all of that, these controllers usually manage a fleet of different pieces of infrastructure on a pipeline – pretty much anything that keeps oil and natural gas flowing smoothly. Sometimes pipeline controllers are even brought in on an emergency basis (and paid even more for this kind of work) to stop the bleeding, so to speak.

13. Gas Controller

Median Salary – $90,673

Education – College, Tech School Training, On-the-Job Training

Projected Growth – 5% Over 10 Years

The number one responsibility of gas controllers in the public utility sector is to make sure that natural gas flows through pipeline systems and that the natural gas is getting where it needs to go on a regular and consistent basis.

A lot of the time this means monitoring pieces of advanced flow detection technology. The pressure data needs to be analyzed on a minute by minute basis – in real-time – to make sure that there aren’t any potential issues that could negatively impact deliverability.

Gas controllers are also often responsible for making sure that the system doesn’t leak, spotting potential weak points and future leaks before they manifest, as well as managing flow rates to keep everything balanced and under control.

This is another of the better careers in public utility work that folks without a college degree can regularly get into and still make quite a bit of money.

14. Energy Auditor

Median Salary – $61,265

Education – Engineering Degree

Projected Growth – 2.5% Over 10 Years

Every aspect of an energy auditor’s career revolves around making sure that public utilities are being run as efficiently as they can be.

These professionals monitor almost every aspect of a public utility facility. They are on the hunt for potential upgrades and improvements and ways to lower the prices of public utilities for the customer to name a couple. 

15. Lineman

Median Salary – $83,372

Education – Apprenticeship

Projected Growth – 6% Over 10 Years

Linemen need to be extremely comfortable working high above the ground, working with their hands, and working with some potentially dangerous infrastructure and systems – oftentimes in less than picture-perfect conditions, too.

These are the folks you see repairing electrical lines when they are brought down during storms, installing new electrical service, working on underground electrical lines, and generally just making sure that the grid works the way it’s been designed to work.

Those that don’t mind a little bit of hands-on work will find this work to be very rewarding, especially from a financial standpoint. You don’t have to have a ton of formal education to get into this job, either. It’s certainly one of the top 15 best paying jobs in public utilities for those that haven’t gone to college.

Closing Thoughts

When you get right down to it, careers in the public utilities world are always going to be mission critical to keeping the lights on in our communities, keeping the water flowing, and making sure that we have the heat and energy we need whenever we flip a switch or fiddle with the thermostat.

Because of that, these jobs are about as “future proof” as they get – they are always going to be in demand, they are always going to be looking for people to fill these positions, and the jobs are always going to be very well-paid.

Combine all of that with the incredible benefits packages and stability that working for a public utility brings to the table and it’s not hard to see why so many are flocking to the top 15 best paying jobs in public utilities these days.

They are well worth a closer look if you’re building your career today!


Is it hard to break into the public utility sector?

While it can sometimes feel like an uphill climb to find new openings in the public utilities sector (if only because these jobs are so in demand), the barrier of entry is not nearly as steep as it is in other fields.

On top of that, because these jobs are so important – and because the pay packages, benefits, and security are so lucrative – they are worth a little bit of extra effort to land.

Are these careers going to last for 20, 30, or more years?

You bet they are!

It’s very easy for young people just joining the workforce to get into a public utility position and make it their lifelong career, spending 20, 30, or even more years working at these utilities – making great money, enjoying great benefits, and earning an amazing retirement – while leading very fulfilling days, too.

Public utility positions aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

What kind of benefits can public utility employees expect?

Public utility employees can, at the very least, expect comprehensive health and dental insurance plans, 401(k) retirement plans, pension plans, as well as a whole host of other benefits that come from working in the public sector.

Josh Hutcheson

E-Learning Specialist in Online Programs & Courses Linkedin

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