This week is Careers in Energy Week. The State of Colorado is celebrating and bringing exposure to careers found in the energy industry, and electric cooperatives are one of them.
The men and women who don hard hats and climb poles to work on power lines might be the most visible employees of electric utilities, but it takes a host of other professions to keep power flowing.
From accounting to communications, engineering to human resources, customer/member service to line work, the job opportunities at electric cooperatives are numerous and will become more so as Baby Boomers retire in waves.
By 2017, 55 percent of electric co-op CEOs will be eligible for retirement, and the number jumps to 75 percent in 10 years. That’s just the top job bracket — other categories of workers are on the way out, too, in the next five years:
37 percent, senior managers
31 percent, supervisors
26 percent, system operations employees
24 percent, engineers
16 percent, “skilled trades,” which includes lineworkers equipment operators
14 percent, information technology
This means lots of new positions are opening up at Poudre Valley REA and other co-ops near you. Cooperatives are generally considered to be great places to work, no matter the type of cooperative, because people are put over profits. Electric co-ops, specifically, are not-for-profit businesses, which means we have to generate money in order to operate and meet financial lending requirements, but any extra revenue over and above operating expenses are returned to our members in the form of capital credits.
Electric co-ops by the numbers
The unique aspect about electric cooperatives in the U.S. is that each one is an independent business, but we’re all connected in a vast network that serves 42 million people across 47 states. They serve 19 million businesses, homes, schools, churches, farms and other establishments in 2,500 of America’s 3,141 counties.
To accomplish that feat, about 900 electric co-ops nationwide employ nearly 70,000 workers, and it’s no wonder. Much more goes on at each one of these cooperatives than keeping the system running.
Member Services employees take care of phone calls, new services bill payments and general inquiries. Member Relations advises members on energy use, offers programs and services, such as home energy audits and rebates, and scholarships for high school graduates. Staking technicians and engineers plot where new lines will be built, while purchasing and warehouse employees maintain an inventory of equipment and negotiate contracts. And IT professionals are increasingly part of the operations landscape, in addition to traditional IT work, as more and more digital technologies are integrated into the day-in and day-out of running an electric system.
How to find co-op jobs
Interested in joining the co-op family? View careers at Poudre Valley REA, and careers at other electric cooperative at the Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives’ career center, where applicants can search for openings and submit resumes.