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Careers in the Infrastructure Industry

Posted August 8, 2017 in Articles

Who knew that a person could make $150,000 working in sewers?

I’m going to make an educated guess that your high school guidance counselor never told you that one? Or even your college advisors. I can make that guess because we at Renewable Water Resource are growing and hiring a lot. And oftentimes, people who apply have no idea what the jobs even pay. Or that such jobs exist.

That is not uncommon for ReWa and agencies like us. The public hears a lot about the need for welders, plumbers and electricians – skilled jobs that need to be filled. But there are a ton of jobs in the greater infrastructure world of road construction and sewers that don’t get as much acclaim.

The jobs are there because these industries are growing. The reason these industries are growing is because the nation’s infrastructure needs repairs and expansion. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average sanitation facility worker nationally makes $45,000 a year and most jobs require only a high school diploma or equivalent. Growth in this sector is about 6 percent a year, which is on pace with other fast-growth industries nationwide.

So, why don’t we talk more about these jobs more often when we talk about the future of the workforce? There are a myriad of reasons. A major one is because they are considered “dirty jobs.” These are not the tech jobs that economic forecasters like to talk about, but the reality these jobs will be more abundant and more accessible. While tech jobs are seen as catalysts for bringing in new ideas and new people to an area, infrastructure ones aren’t see that way. Tech is seen as high growth and spawning new jobs. Infrastructure is sometimes seen as a necessary evil.

However, let’s look at some of the infrastructure projects happening right now in the Upstate. Interstate 85 is almost being completely redone from Gaffney to Anderson right now in various separate projects. While the heart of it will be a first-of- its-kind flyover ramp system at the 85-385 Gateway project, there are numerous other bridges being rebuilt that will add to the overall view of the region.

Then there is our own Dig Greenville project, which is a $46 million project will create a sewer tunnel 100 feet underground that will span from Hudson Street to Cleveland Park — almost 1.5 miles – in downtown. The tunnel construction will require a special drill that will bore underneath downtown Greenville for 36 months.

These are the kinds of cool projects that infrastructure brings to the table in the Upstate.

And there are plenty of jobs to be filled in them.

Stacey G. Flax is the public relations manager Renewable Water Resources, whose mission is to improve our community’s quality of life by transforming wastewater into renewable resources through responsible and innovative solutions. ReWa serves more than 400,000 industrial, commercial and residential customers in Greenville County and parts of Anderson, Spartanburg, Pickens and Laurens Counties. For more information, visit www.rewaonline.org.