Meter Readers, Utilities
Exploring this Job
The best way to learn more about the career of meter reader is to talk to a meter reader directly. Ask your career services office for help with setting up an information interview with a meter reader. You might also be able to observe a meter reader as he or she works in your neighborhood.
Meter readers spend a lot of time on the go, moving from house to house and reading the meters that record the consumption levels of gas, water, electricity, and steam. They may travel by truck or on foot. A meter reader may monitor the usage of only one particular utility (electricity, for example) or the usage of more than one type of service. Meter readers can tell how much energy has been used by checking meters, which are located either near the back of the building or in the building itself, usually in the basement. They may need to use a flashlight or other equipment to see the dial that shows the amount of power usage. This information is recorded for the utility company to use when billing customers for the amount of energy they have consumed. Meter readers may use a pencil and paper to record this information or, as is becoming increasingly popular, they may use a handheld computer or other automatic machine.
Because meter readers are often the only utility company employees that have direct contact with customers, they frequently answer customers' questions about service. They keep an eye out for any readings that may be unusually high or low and check for possible causes, such as gas leaks. They are responsible for checking the meter and connecting equipment to make sure everything is in good working order. Any evidence of damage, defects, or unauthorized tampering is noted so that the service department can act accordingly. Meter readers are also responsible for connecting and disconnecting utility service.
Chief meter readers supervise and direct meter readers in the performance of their jobs. They review the reports of the meter readers, noting any discrepancies from normal usage. They also oversee the disconnection or reconnection of utility service and investigate any customer complaints.