Although electric power has been around more than 100 years, it’s a high-tech industry where even the traditional jobs call for expertise and innovation. Veterans and cybersecurity experts make up today’s electric co-op workforce.
“The role of the lineworker may seem straightforward,” says a recent report, Powering America: The Economic Workforce Contributions of the U.S. Electric Power Industry, sponsored in part by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
“However, the day-to-day tasks involved in this career are complex and challenging, ranging from restoring power in extremely challenging storm conditions, to utilizing new sources of data to identify the cause of an outage, to safely conducting electric repairs and installations while hanging 50 feet or more above the ground.”
A variety of electric utility jobs are ready to be filled by the next crop of employees.
Here’s what several workers said about their electric co-op jobs in the “Powering America” report:
Network security administrator: “Hackers work overtime to disrupt the (electric) grid and steal personal identities and financial information. We all work diligently to protect the thousands of members of our community.”— Phil Crump, Blue Ridge Energy Cooperative, North Carolina.
Demand response and technologies lead: “The opportunity to make the (electric) grid more efficient, that’s what’s exciting about my job.”— John Reinhart, Great River Energy in Minnesota.
Apprentice lineworker: “I used to defend the country, and now I light it up.”— Nate Humphrey, U.S. Army veteran, now with Southside Electric Cooperative in Virginia.
Paul Wesslund writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.