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Electric cooperative careers offer paycheck and a purpose

    Every day in this country, more than 75,000 men and women go to work at America’s electric cooperatives to keep the lights on for 42 million energy consumers in 47 states, including Mississippi.
    It’s challenging work, but in addition to a paycheck, our electric power association employees go home each night knowing they’ve helped make their communities better places to live.
    Over the next five years, thousands of workers will get to experience that sense of purpose and pride as America’s electric cooperatives hire nearly 15,000 employees nationwide. These new hires will replace Baby Boomers reaching retirement age and accommodate organic growth in the energy industry.
    Despite competitive wages, benefits, job stability and rewarding work, electric cooperatives and other energy companies often have a difficult time attracting new employees. One reason for this recruiting challenge is a lack of awareness among potential new hires. To overcome this challenge, America’s electric cooperatives have joined forces with other energy companies to celebrate Careers in Energy Week. The event, which runs Oct. 17-21, is an opportunity for co-ops to promote their career opportunities. (Find job listings at
    A lineworker high atop a pole is the first image that comes to mind for most people who think about electric power association employees. It’s true that lineworkers make up the largest segment of the total co-op workforce—approximately 25 percent—but it takes a variety of talents to keep a cooperative running smoothly.
    Information technology and engineering are two rapidly growing career opportunities at Mississippi’s 26 electric power associations. Other in-demand career paths include finance, member services, equipment operators, energy advisors, communications and marketing, purchasing, administrative support and human resources.
    For people who enjoy the rural quality of life but want to explore other parts of the country, an electric cooperative career might be the perfect option. There are more than 900 electric cooperatives in the United States, and combined they serve 75 percent of the nation’s land mass.
    Co-op lines stretch across every region, climate and geographic feature America has to offer, and each cooperative reflects the character of the community it serves. No matter what prospective employees might be seeking, they’re sure to find it somewhere in the electric cooperative network.
    Although the national statistics are impressive, it doesn’t mean much to a job seeker if his or her local electric power association is fully staffed and doesn’t anticipate any openings in the near future. Many jobs—especially lineworkers, equipment operators and other similar roles—are available through regional and national contractors.
    These contractors are typically hired to supplement local utility crews to help build large projects, clear rights-of-way or repair widespread storm damage. They move from project to project over time, offering employees a chance to see different parts of the country.
    Electric cooperatives are also eager to hire military veterans and their spouses. Last year, America’s electric cooperatives launched a program called “Serve Our Co-ops; Serve Our Country” to honor and hire veterans and their spouses. More information about the program is available at
    As not-for-profit, member-owned cooperatives, electric power associations offer careers that allow employees to make a difference in the communities they serve. Cooperatives are guided by a set of principles that put people first and offer fulfilling work to those who enjoy serving others.

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