Utility Meter Reader: Job Description & Requirements

Learn what a utility meter reader does. Explore the training and skills requirements, in addition to finding out about the salary expectation and employment outlook, to see if this occupation is the right spot for you.

Career Definition

Utility meter readers are employed by utilities companies to monitor commercial and residential consumers' use of water, gas or electricity. Typical duties include driving along a route and recording the readings on meters, inspecting meters for defects and monitoring for abnormal usage volume or tampering that may indicate unlawful usage. Additionally, potential utility meter readers should be prepared to work outdoors, interact with clients in a calm and professional manner and avoid dogs and other obstacles when walking onto unknown property.

How to Become a Utility Meter Reader

Required Education

Because most meter reader jobs are entry-level, employers generally do not require any education higher than a high school diploma. It is possible to enhance your prospects for advancement within the field with some vocational training, but this is not required to become a utility meter reader. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that training usually happens on the job, with an experienced meter reader providing necessary information.

Skills Required

It is helpful to have certain skills prior to starting a career in meter reading, such as the ability to do basic math, attention to detail and the ability to navigate a designated route. Because the job requires walking onto private properties in order to read meters, it is important to have customer service skills and a working knowledge of the English language.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the middle 50% of salaries for utility meter readers ranged from $27,160-$48,020 as of May 2012, depending on the experience of the worker and the type of employer; smaller companies and municipalities generally pay less than larger ones. Many utility companies are beginning to use automated electronic systems to monitor utility meters, cutting down on the need for utility meter readers. According to the BLS, jobs in this field will decline by 19% between 2012 and 2022, with over 7,000 less jobs available by the end of the decade.

Alternate Career Options

Fence Erector

Repairing and erecting fences and gates, these workers may secure employment without a high school diploma. Much faster than average employment growth of 22% or higher was predicted for this occupation by the BLS from 2012 through 2022. In 2012, the BLS revealed an annual median wage of $30,190 for fence erectors.

Hand Laborer and Material Mover

Jobs may be found without a high school education, although many employers looks for a diploma, in addition to physical fitness, for this job. Without the use of machines, these workers move stored objects around, clean vehicles, pack objects for moving or pick up discarded objects. Average employment growth of 10% was anticipated by the BLS from 2012-2022, and a median salary of $22,970 per year was noted by the BLS in 2012.

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