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Meter Readers, Utilities Job Description, Career as a Meter Readers, Utilities, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: High School Diploma

Salary: Median— $30,330 per year

Employment Outlook: Fair

Meter readers are involved in taking readings from electric, gas, or water consumption meters in order to calculate the volume of utility consumed by a customer. The basic duty of a meter reader is to take consumption readings from meters installed at the customer’s location. Meter readers must maintain a high level of accuracy in their work, because customers are billed according to the consumption data provided by their readings.

Meter readers are also responsible for inspecting meter connections for any damage or defects. They supply repair and maintenance teams with the necessary information required to repair damaged meters. Meter readers keep track of a customer’s average consumption and can ask for customer clarification if there is any extreme fluctuation in consumption of the utility. They have to be alert towards indications of unauthorized connections made by the customer. Meter readers are also involved in activating service for new customers and turning off service for defaulters.

Education and Training Requirements

Meter readers are entry level employees of an organization specializing in supply and maintenance of utility services. Employers usually prefer workers with a high school diploma. Newly recruited meter readers need to learn how to read meters, calculate consumption, and determine consumption rate of customers. Inexperienced and newly recruited meter readers start by working under a more experienced worker, and gain on-the-job training.

A person with good grasp of high school topics such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics, as well as their applications, will be ideally suited for a job as a meter reader. However, since the job also entails studying as well as analyzing meters and gauges, a meter reader should have basic knowledge about the workings of such instruments.

Experience is not mandatory for entry-level positions in this field. However, employers prefer workers who are skilled with computers and electronic office or business equipment. Since meter readers are required to service varying routes, they must also have a good knowledge of reading maps. Clerical skills like typing and record keeping act as an added advantage for meter readers.

Getting the Job

Meter readers are hired by utility service providers such as electricity and water supply agencies. Openings are listed in classified sections of leading newspapers. Job seekers can also find news on vacancies through Internet job portals. Prospective workers may also directly approach utility companies for information regarding vacancies.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Since the position of meter reader is an entry-level occupation, there is ample room for advancement to higher positions in the metering department. A meter reader, after gaining considerable work experience, can also move to positions such as that of a dispatcher or distributor. In addition, one can choose to get apprenticed to skilled technicians, such as linemen or electricians, for future advancement.

Employment opportunities for meter readers are limited, and the employment rate is expected to decline. Automated meter readers are being implemented slowly, and may lead to redundancy of meter readers in future.

Working Conditions

The job of a meter reader mostly involves outdoor work. They travel specified routes while taking meter readings from customers. Since many households have dogs, meter readers are provided with ample precautionary measures against aggressive dogs. Meter readers have a usual 40-hour week schedule from Monday to Friday.

Where to Go for More Information

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
900 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

The Utility Reform Network
711 Van Ness Avenue
Suite 350
San Francisco 94102

Earnings and Benefits

As per the records of May 2006, the median annual salary for meter readers was $30,330. A meter reader can expect to be paid between $23,580 to $39,320, depending upon the individual’s experience and capability.

The benefits provided for meter readers vary according to the organizations they work in. In many cases, uniforms are provided by the company. Other than that, meter readers are offered regular benefits like paid and sick leaves.

Many meter readers in the telephone and electricity industry are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union, which negotiates salary and benefits on their behalf.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw and Public Service