Bureau of Labor Statistics

Water work: Jobs related to water utilities

| April 2017

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More than 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in it.

We use most of it for purposes other than drinking.

We need it to survive.

It’s water, of course. But less than 1 percent of this essential compound is accessible for our consumption. We rely on workers in water and wastewater treatment to keep the supply we do have clean and safe—and available to us.

Chemical addition process in water treatment plant

 

Industries related to water utilities include local government utilities; water, sewage, and other systems; and water and sewer system construction. As chart 1 shows, employment in local government utilities and water, sewage, and other systems has been relatively stable over the past decade. Water and sewer system construction employment, like construction employment as a whole, has fluctuated.  

View Chart Data

Chart 1. Employment in selected water-related industries, 2006–16
Industry Local government utilities(1) Water and sewer system construction Water, sewage, and other systems

Jan-2006

238,400 206,700 45,200

Feb-2006

238,400 207,700 45,200

Mar-2006

238,500 207,200 45,300

Apr-2006

238,500 209,900 46,000

May-2006

238,500 209,200 45,900

Jun-2006

238,700 210,500 46,000

Jul-2006

239,200 210,800 45,800

Aug-2006

239,800 211,100 46,100

Sep-2006

239,900 212,300 47,000

Oct-2006

240,300 211,000 46,000

Nov-2006

240,500 212,000 46,800

Dec-2006

240,700 211,600 46,900

Jan-2007

241,000 215,100 47,200

Feb-2007

241,400 208,500 47,300

Mar-2007

241,800 211,300 47,400

Apr-2007

242,000 213,600 47,400

May-2007

242,500 216,700 49,000

Jun-2007

242,800 213,100 50,000

Jul-2007

242,400 212,700 49,600

Aug-2007

242,200 205,700 49,400

Sep-2007

242,400 206,200 48,700

Oct-2007

242,800 204,500 48,800

Nov-2007

243,100 202,600 48,400

Dec-2007

243,200 202,500 48,700

Jan-2008

243,600 200,600 48,300

Feb-2008

243,800 200,100 47,900

Mar-2008

244,300 200,100 47,700

Apr-2008

244,800 196,400 48,100

May-2008

245,200 195,400 47,800

Jun-2008

246,100 192,600 47,000

Jul-2008

246,400 191,400 47,600

Aug-2008

246,900 192,600 47,500

Sep-2008

246,600 193,000 48,900

Oct-2008

246,500 187,800 48,400

Nov-2008

246,900 182,300 47,800

Dec-2008

246,800 181,700 47,600

Jan-2009

247,000 180,500 47,500

Feb-2009

247,200 177,200 47,800

Mar-2009

247,300 171,600 47,600

Apr-2009

246,700 164,700 47,400

May-2009

247,200 164,400 47,600

Jun-2009

247,000 162,000 47,600

Jul-2009

247,300 161,400 46,700

Aug-2009

246,500 159,700 46,400

Sep-2009

246,600 157,800 46,800

Oct-2009

246,000 156,500 47,000

Nov-2009

245,200 157,900 47,400

Dec-2009

244,900 153,700 47,000

Jan-2010

244,400 150,500 47,300

Feb-2010

243,800 150,200 47,000

Mar-2010

243,300 155,700 47,000

Apr-2010

243,100 158,700 46,700

May-2010

242,800 158,700 46,700

Jun-2010

242,300 158,400 46,800

Jul-2010

241,500 158,200 47,300

Aug-2010

241,800 157,900 47,500

Sep-2010

241,700 157,400 46,800

Oct-2010

241,600 157,300 46,500

Nov-2010

241,500 158,300 46,700

Dec-2010

241,700 153,400 47,100

Jan-2011

241,600 149,100 46,700

Feb-2011

241,300 150,000 46,800

Mar-2011

240,900 151,100 46,900

Apr-2011

240,700 151,500 46,700

May-2011

240,100 151,200 46,400

Jun-2011

239,800 151,300 45,400

Jul-2011

239,700 150,500 45,700

Aug-2011

240,600 150,100 45,600

Sep-2011

240,500 152,400 45,800

Oct-2011

240,400 154,000 46,000

Nov-2011

240,700 154,000 46,100

Dec-2011

239,900 154,300 46,300

Jan-2012

239,600 153,900 46,700

Feb-2012

239,600 153,000 46,800

Mar-2012

239,600 151,800 47,600

Apr-2012

239,700 151,700 46,300

May-2012

239,600 150,900 47,000

Jun-2012

239,500 151,700 47,600

Jul-2012

239,600 151,700 48,000

Aug-2012

239,000 151,500 48,200

Sep-2012

238,600 152,200 48,300

Oct-2012

238,600 150,800 48,200

Nov-2012

240,300 151,500 48,000

Dec-2012

239,700 153,800 47,400

Jan-2013

239,100 155,600 47,500

Feb-2013

239,100 155,800 47,800

Mar-2013

239,100 153,200 47,400

Apr-2013

239,000 153,100 47,600

May-2013

239,200 153,300 48,200

Jun-2013

238,900 153,600 47,800

Jul-2013

238,900 153,600 47,300

Aug-2013

239,100 153,400 47,200

Sep-2013

239,200 153,700 47,400

Oct-2013

239,200 154,300 47,300

Nov-2013

239,300 156,000 47,400

Dec-2013

239,300 154,200 47,300

Jan-2014

239,400 156,300 47,500

Feb-2014

239,500 155,600 47,300

Mar-2014

239,700 158,500 48,100

Apr-2014

240,000 159,700 48,400

May-2014

240,300 161,400 48,000

Jun-2014

240,500 160,600 47,800

Jul-2014

240,600 160,000 47,800

Aug-2014

240,700 161,700 48,400

Sep-2014

240,800 160,700 48,200

Oct-2014

240,900 161,700 48,400

Nov-2014

241,300 162,700 48,200

Dec-2014

240,800 164,500 49,300

Jan-2015

241,700 164,800 48,700

Feb-2015

241,500 168,300 48,800

Mar-2015

241,900 167,900 48,600

Apr-2015

242,000 166,600 48,700

May-2015

242,200 168,400 48,800

Jun-2015

242,300 169,400 48,800

Jul-2015

242,500 170,700 49,300

Aug-2015

242,700 172,100 50,100

Sep-2015

242,900 172,300 48,300

Oct-2015

243,100 173,000 48,200

Nov-2015

243,300 173,500 49,000

Dec-2015

243,500 174,900 48,800

Jan-2016

243,600 176,000 48,500

Feb-2016

243,800 178,500 48,500

Mar-2016

244,000 178,100 48,700

Apr-2016

244,100 179,400 48,800

May-2016

244,300 178,900 48,900

Jun-2016

243,900 179,100 49,400

Jul-2016

244,700 181,700 50,600

Aug-2016

244,900 179,400 50,300

Sep-2016

244,600 182,500 50,800

Oct-2016

245,200 183,100 51,100

Nov-2016

245,400 183,300 51,900

Dec-2016

245,200 181,200 52,300
Footnotes:

 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics survey, seasonally adjusted.

(1) Includes water and energy utilities.

These industries employ workers in a variety of jobs, including those in:

  • management and supervision;
  • design and construction;
  • operations and maintenance; and
  • office and administrative support.

As table 1 shows, compared with all occupations, many of the selected occupations offer either higher pay or better job prospects, or both. And you can enter most of the occupations shown in the table with a high school diploma and on-the-job training.

Table 1. Median hourly wages, projected employment growth, and typical education and training, all industries, for selected occupations related to water utilities.

View Chart Data

Table 1. Median hourly wages, projected employment growth, and typical education and training, all industries, for selected occupations related to water utilities
Occupation Median hourly wage, all industries, 2015 Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014–24 (percent) Education Work experience in a related occupation On-the-job training

General and operations managers

$46.99 7.1 Bachelor's degree 5 years or more None

First-line supervisors of production and operating workers

$27.09 -3.1 High school diploma or equivalent Less than 5 years None

Pipelayers

$18.16 11.4 No formal educational credential None Short-term on-the-job training

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

$24.34 11.5 High school diploma or equivalent None Apprenticeship

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators

$21.53 6.0 High school diploma or equivalent None Long-term on-the-job training

Construction equipment operators

$21.06 10.2 High school diploma or equivalent None Moderate-term on-the-job training

Utilities meter readers

$18.51 -18.0 High school diploma or equivalent None Short-term on-the-job training

General maintenance and repair workers

$17.61 6.1 High school diploma or equivalent None Long-term on-the-job training

Construction laborers

$15.34 12.7 No formal educational credential None Short-term on-the-job training

All occupations

$17.40 6.5      

 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics survey (median hourly wages) and Employment Projections Program (projected employment).

Table 1. Selected occupations related to water utilities Median hourly wages, projected employment growth, and typical education and training, all industries Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent)
Education
Work experience in a related occupation
On-the-job training General and operations managers
Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016: $47.74
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent): 7.1
Education: Bachelor's degree
Work experience in a related occupation: 5 years or more
On-the-job training: None First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016: $27.78
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent): -3.1
Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Work experience in a related occupation: Less than 5 years
On-the-job training: None Pipelayers
Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016: $18.74
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent): 11.4
Education: No formal educational credential
Work experience in a related occupation: None
On-the-job training: Short-term on-the-job training Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016: $24.74
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent): 11.5
Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Work experience in a related occupation: None
On-the-job training: Apprenticeship Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators
Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016: $22.00
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent): 6.0
Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Work experience in a related occupation: None
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training Construction equipment operators
Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016: $21.65
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent): 10.2
Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Work experience in a related occupation: None
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training Utilities meter readers
Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016: $18.72
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent): -18.0
Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Work experience in a related occupation: None
On-the-job training: Short-term on-the-job training General maintenance and repair workers
Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016: $17.76
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent): 6.1
Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Work experience in a related occupation: None
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training Construction laborers
Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016: $16.07
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent): 12.7
Education: No formal education credential
Work experience in a related occupation: None
On-the-job training: Short-term on-the-job training All occupations
Median hourly wage, all industries, 2016: $17.81
Employment growth, all industries, projected 2014-24 (percent): 6.5 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics program (wages) and Employment Projections program (projections, education, experience, training).

 

In addition to opportunities arising from growth, opportunities are expected from the need to replace workers who leave these occupations permanently. Chart 2 shows selected occupations related to water and wastewater treatment that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects to have higher-than-average replacement rates through 2024.

View Chart Data

Chart 2. Selected water-related occupations with above-average replacement rates in all industries, projected 2014–24
Occupation Replacement rate, all industries,
projected 2014–24

Septic tank servicers and sewer pipe cleaners

24.6

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators

25.4

Industrial machinery mechanics

25.9

Environmental engineers

28.3

Civil engineers

29.5

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Learn more about these and other occupations in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Detailed industry and occupation projections are available from the Employment Projections program.  

Related Career Outlook articles:

About the Author

Elka Torpey is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. She can be reached at torpey.elka@bls.gov .

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Suggested citation:

Elka Torpey, "Water work: Jobs related to water utilities," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2017.

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