Water meter readers examine meters at homes and businesses on their assigned routes. The meter indicates the volume of water used by each customer, which determines the amount owed the utility company. Meter readers work for the municipal government or water departments. Although the job used to be done manually, with the water meter reader physically visiting each location, computerized meters can be read electronically, without the reader needing to leave her car.
Education and Training
Water meter readers are entry-level positions requiring a high school diploma or its equivalent and a valid driver's license. There are no certificates or licenses required for this position. Previous experience reading meters or working in the building trades is an asset. On-the-job training is provided by experienced water meter readers who instruct new readers on the different types of meters, such as straight-reading meters, round-reading meters or computerized meters. They teach how to locate a meter, look for water leaks and recognize atypical readings that suggest a problem.
The American Water Works Association identifies traits that employers should look for when hiring meter readers. Good vision, physical endurance and manual dexterity help readers complete their work in diverse and inclement weather. Good spatial skills allow workers to decipher maps to navigate their routes. Because they interact with the public, a water meter reader should have good people skills, employing courtesy and tact. They should remain calm in a crisis and must follow company rules and procedures. Attention to detail and precision enables water meter readers to complete accurate records and readings.
A reader checks the water meter of residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Water meters are read by physically walking up to the unit and looking at the dials or by scanning computerized meters to obtain water usage readings electronically. They check each meter to ensure it works properly and report any needed maintenance to their employer. Some companies require meter readers to collect delinquent or final bills.
Salary and Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics groups water meter readers with electricity, gas and steam utility readers. This group’s annual median wage as of May 2011 was $37,800. The lowest 10 percent of wage earners reported making $21,610 per year, while the highest 10 percent earned an annual wage of $59,220. Most water meter readers work full-time daytime hours. A 20 percent decline in jobs is expected between 2008 and 2018 due to the advent of automated water meters that require fewer employees.