1. "What skills do I have?"
The stuff someone is already good at, and enjoys doing, is an important consideration if choosing a power utility technician program. That might seem like a no-brainer, but prospective students should take the time to match up their skills and interests with possible career paths in power utility. For example, those with a knack for problem solving, thinking on their feet and don't have a fear of heights may be interested in working as a lineman.
2. "Who will teach me?"
Find a power utility training or education program that specifically prepares students to join the power utility job force. Ideally, that program should go beyond the textbook and help students learn practical, hands-on skills – along with industry professionalism – that will help them stand out from other job candidates.
To learn those marketable skills, students need access to industry experts. There's no better person to teach students how to operate a smart grid than an instructor who has actual power utility technology experience. Industry vets provide the field-specific knowledge that students need to stay current on what's happening in the field.
3. "Where do I want to work?"
Working in power utility provides endless possibilities when it comes to finding an ideal work environment – from power plants to hydroelectric dams. Those who prefer to spend most of their time in the field might consider becoming a field technician, while those who prefer to work in a power plant might be more interested in studying nuclear power and biomass technology.
Location is another consideration. Power utility jobs are available across the country, but certain markets are growing faster than others, meaning that relocation is certainly an option for those who don't want to stay put, and in some cases may be necessary. Job growth data, which can be found through resources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, can be helpful in choosing a career to pursue.
4. "What are my job prospects?"
It's safe to say that the power utility industry will continue to thrive. But it's also an industry that changes constantly. When choosing a power utility program, it's worth taking a close look at the types of jobs that are available, and finding a program that is on the front end of those industry changes.
5. "Am I ready for school?"
Going to school is a big commitment that takes a lot of planning and consideration. First, students need to be financially prepared – filling out the FAFSA, knowing their financial aid options and seeking out scholarships are all necessary steps.
Whether a student is full or part time, finding the right power utility program that matches his or her schedule and time frame is also key. Night classes and online courses can help students balance school with other responsibilities. It's important for students to understand how much time they will need to dedicate to class and school work and identify programs that provide these options if they are needed.
This certainly isn't the end-all-be-all for making a decision, but it's a pretty good start. As students ponder their future, it's critical to tap all and any resources (hint – the admissions counselor is an enrollee's best friend). They should ask questions, dig for information, and gather as much knowledge about the power utility program as they can. When it comes to education, there's no such thing as being too prepared.
Download our free career guide, "The Complete eBook to Starting Your Career as a Power Utility Technician", to learn more about getting a job in power utility.