Have you ever thought about the power lines and stations that send power to your house? The people who install, maintain and improve our power supply are called power utility technicians and they play a very significant role in society. "I can't think of a more important career mission than pursuing a job in this field," said Patrick Longstreth, a program director at the Ecotech Institute. If you're interested in making a difference by joining this field, Mr. Longstreth offered these six things to know:
1. Without power utility technicians, you wouldn't be able to charge your phone
Electricity is something a lot of us take for granted, but we need it to get through our daily lives. Power utility technicians are the reason we are able to flip a switch and turn on a lamp, traffic lights work correctly, and we can charge our phone when it dies. Without people in the field maintaining our nation's power infrastructure, it would be bad news for all of us.
2. Power utility technicians have hands-on jobs
There are a variety of positions in the power utility field, but what they all have in common is they require you to be hands-on. When studying to become a power utility technician, you'll need to learn the ins and outs of the machinery and equipment you will encounter in the field.
3. Now hiring! There are many jobs opening in the field
The power utility field is experiencing a huge void in terms of talent as its workforce starts to age. According to a survey from the Center for Energy Workforce Development, by 2015, 36% of utility employees in positions the industry deems as "critical" may retire or leave for other reasons. These positions need to be filled by qualified candidates! Are you ready to make a difference and enter this workforce?
4. Take your pick. There are a variety of positions within the field
There are many positions students studying power utility could go into. If you like to be outside, you can work in alignment and make sure power lines are up and running. If you want to work indoors, you can work inside a power plant as a maintenance technician. And, don't think you'll be doing the same thing every day. Every job involves a variety of tasks you will work on each day. Whatever you choose, you will not be bored working in the power utility field.
5. There is a push for renewable energy in the field
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 68% of the electricity generated in 2013 was from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, fossil fuels are not sustainable. But there has been a push in recent years to invest more in solar and wind energy. According to Ceres, some of the largest companies, including General Motors and Walmart, are investing in renewable energy. If you become a power utility technician, it's likely you will be working with wind and solar energy at some point in your career.
6. The power utility conventional grid is evolving into a smart grid
The delivery mechanisms for transferring power from the power station to your home haven't changed much over the last 100 years. However, the industry is developing higher quality materials that make it safer and more efficient to bring electricity into our homes. The good news is, this is just the tip of the iceberg with smart grid technology and it will continue to evolve. Ten years from now the system could be completely different. As a power utility technician you will need to be adaptable to changing technologies as they continue to improve throughout your career.
Mr. Longstreth said, "My grandfather once told me when you find something you love to do, you will never have to work another day in your life," which is fitting for this career. Those in the power utility field have both challenging and rewarding careers that provide them with opportunities to learn and make a difference. To find out more about how to start your career in this field visit A Career as a Power Utility Technician.