When we all think about words or phrases like opportunities, job security and saving the world, different thoughts may come to mind depending on our background. Some of us may associate opportunity with an upcoming industry such as e-commerce. Amazon ring a bell? Job security may be associated with working on only government jobs or jobs where you have worked a long time. Saving the world does not mean you have to work in the medical field or the military.
One industry that is a critical part of our day to day lives is the “water industry” and encompasses all the above elements and more. This industry existed even before the modern infrastructure came into existence, as for many important reasons we humans have always relied on water. More so how to handle the wastewater. It is needed for every town, city, country and community. Even in certain parts of the world where there is no infrastructure, there are people in villages that are involved in making sure these necessities are taken care of. People in developed countries take this for granted and don’t fully appreciate the Water and Wastewater Departments as much as they appreciate Police and the Fire Department.
The big push for water jobs in the US came after the Clean Water Act in 1972. A lot more emphasis and regulations were created around water and wastewater which resulted in steady job creation, and a developing workforce in various cities and municipalities around the US.
After this big wave, the new generation went in all different fields and now most of these people that joined in the ‘70s and ‘80s are retired or ready to retire creating a major employment gap.
I personally became associated with the water industry when I founded Aqua Staffing in 2013 as a small business, woman owned company. Aqua Staffing was created to help fill in this gap for the water industry for both temporary and permanent staff. Aqua Staffing is an extension to any human resources department in the water industry that needs water professionals, i.e. if someone goes on an extended leave of absence or when they need to fill the void during permanent placement.
As I was learning about the industry and talking to numerous professionals, I realized most of these individuals who had spent their entire career had a very good work-life balance and made good money to support their family. Even in their retirement some were set up with excellent savings and pensions to support their lifestyle. It is unfortunate that as new industries such as the dotcom or e-commerce experience rapid growth, the water sector, one of the oldest and most stable industries gets forgotten. This is due to lack of education or lack of glamour associated with the job.
I also learned that the water industry is a predominantly male dominated industry like the construction industry based on the type of work that is perceived to be done. However, the job requires English, math, science and analytical skills much like jobs in other industries.
A woman can work as an operator, engineer, supervisor, lab personnel, HR, accounting, planner, scheduler, Health and Safety Specialist, Environmental compliance or even a mechanic if they are inclined toward mechanical troubleshooting and so much more.
Women are looking for jobs that are in the community and provide better work-life balance. Often times it’s the women who take care of the family and kids while working in a long term, financially stable and satisfying job where they are making a difference every day. Bringing more women into the water sector will make the work culture more balanced and bring additional diversity.
To get into this field, you can start with your local community colleges or look up resources with your organization like CWEA.org or baywork.org. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to help anyone that needs guidance in this field and help place you with the right opportunity.