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Power Up Your Job Hunt in the Energy Industry

by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: DeVry

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No matter what your military occupational specialty is, consider powering up your job search in the energy industry, which offers solid job growth and career upward mobility options. Energy companies are all too happy to open the door to veterans, recruiters say.


Although a chunk of those openings are linemen, foremen and other utility worker roles, don’t discount energy companies if you’re also in logistics, engineering, intelligence, scheduling Ð even finance. The industry needs qualified people to fill all of those roles. Additionally, some companies like Xcel Energy are offering apprenticeships so veterans can learn certain careers with on-the-job paid training, even if they didn’t do anything remotely similar during their military service.


“People will say to me, ‘I was a cook in the military. What could you possibly have for me?’ And I usually say, ‘Hey, you had to order supplies and make sure food was sanitary. We look for people in jobs dealing with safety and OSHA.’ Folks overlook that they may have options with us,” says Lacey Golonka, Xcel Energy’s Inclusion & Engagement Consultant.


Here’s how to find the right opportunity for you in energy, with tips from Golonka and other recruiters from Bechtel Corp. and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Consider Apprenticeships for Top Vacancies

Apprenticeships will usher you into a brand new career with paid, on-the-job training for some of the top vacancies in energy. One of those jobs is line workers, says Michelle Rostom, Director of Member Workforce Effectiveness for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Line workers install and repair cables, wires, and other critical transmission and distribution equipment. Other common titles are ‘line installer’ or ‘line technician.’ Average salary is $63,470. Consider this option if your MOS is 12P Prime Power. Apprenticeship programs are offered through the Department of Labor or state colleges or universities.


Xcel Energy also offers the four-year Electrical Line Apprentice Program, in which apprentices work with experienced linemen and crews in both classroom and hands-on training environments, Golonka says. The job involves constructing and climbing poles and learning to work on energized conductors and equipment. You don’t need previous experience but would have to pass a pre-employment aptitude test offered by the Edison Electric Institute.


Another four-year apprenticeship is for ‘Plant Specialist B,’ which operates, inspects, monitors and performs minor maintenance on power plant equipment (boilers, turbines, auxiliary equipment and other systems). Applicants also must take the EEI Power Plant Maintenance and Plant Operator selection exams.


More than 1,400 employees at Xcel Energy are veterans, and jobs are open in eight states- North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, western Wisconsin, Colorado, the panhandle of Texas and New Mexico.


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