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Water Utility Industry Overview | Careers in Utilities

Water Utility Industry Overview | Careers in Utilities

The United States water industry has two main segments: utilities and general services.


Involves operations that supply services to customers, and The water utility industry provides drinking water and wastewater services to customers in municipalities, businesses, and industries. The water industry is a vital part of the U.S. economy, employing over one million people and contributing $154 billion to GDP each year.

Municipal systems, which are controlled and operated by local authorities, are part of the utility sector. Publicly traded/investor-owned utilities are included in this category. Investor-owned utilities are a type of public utility that can be bought and sold on the stock market.

Government-owned systems make up the majority of the United States water and wastewater utility segment, accounting for approximately 84 percent of all community water systems and approximately 98 percent of all community wastewater systems.

The water sector is highly segregated, with over 53,000 community water systems and approximately 16,000 community wastewater treatment plants (according to the EPA). There are a few large water utilities in the United States.

The federal government and the states regulate environmental, health and safety and water quality matters.

General services

Utility management is the process of running an organization, including planning and executing operations that involve providing water and wastewater services on a fee-for-service contract basis to utilities and other clients. Engineering, advising, and selling of water infrastructure products as well as distribution goods are among the services offered to water and wastewater providers on a fee-for-service contract basis. These activities are not subject to market regulation and are instead provided on a fee-for-service contract basis to water and wastewater utilities and other customers.

Career Opportunities

The water sector has many different career opportunities available for those interested in working in the water industry. Positions can be found with water utilities, engineering firms, construction companies, manufacturers of water-related equipment and products, research institutes, and others involved in providing goods or services to the water sector. Many positions require technical expertise related to water resources management or civil engineering. Many of the technical aspects can be learned either in trade schools, colleges/universities, or even on-the-job, depending on the position. There are also plenty of opportunities for those with business backgrounds (i.e. accounting, finance, legal, information technology, marketing, human resources, general management, and communications).

Employers throughout the United States are hiring water professionals. Job seekers can search water-sector job postings on websites like or attend water industry career fairs to learn about job and internship opportunities. There are many exciting careers available in the water sector, so if you are interested in working in this field, now is a great time to get started.