Roles and responsibilities of a meter reader (Plus FAQs)
Updated 8 August 2023
Many utility companies, like electricity, water or gas providers, typically bill their clients based on their usage over a certain period, usually monthly. They install meters indicating total use and calculate the appropriate charge after reading these. Familiarising yourself with what a meter operator does can help you determine if it's a suitable job for you. In this article, we explain what a meter reader is, describe how to become one, outline the skills required and answer some FAQs.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
What does a meter reader do?
A meter reader works for a utility provider. Their primary duty is to read and record meter connections for water, gas or electricity to determine the amount to bill the company's clients. They typically visit residential or commercial establishments when collecting these readings. Their roles and responsibilities include the following:
inputting data about customers' water, electricity, gas, steam or other utility use into the company database to facilitate billing
driving company vehicles along work routes to collect utility readings
inspecting utility meters to ensure they function correctly
repairing faulty utility meters
interacting with customers at their residences or businesses when the utility meter isn't accessible from the outside
installing and connecting utility meters to the company's networks for new clients
disconnecting utility meters for departing clients
preparing reports on the addresses they visit, meters they check and other incidents worth noting
reporting faulty or unauthorised meters to supervisors
How to become a meter reader
Review the following steps on how to get a job reading utility meters:
1. Complete secondary school
Many meter reading roles are entry-level positions that don't have an educational requirement apart from completing your secondary school education. Getting good grades in English and mathematics improves your employment prospects, as the role typically involves reading and inputting numbers and preparing reports. Good English also helps improve your communication skills, as the role may require client interaction.
2. Earn additional certifications
Although the role may only require your GCSE certificates, gaining additional certifications on vocational training courses on operating utility meters can improve your chances of getting the job. Some specific qualifications include Certified Meter Reader, Certified Utility Meter Technician, Certified Utility Meter Calibrator and Certified Automated Meter Reading Technician. These courses provide you with skills in reading and interpreting utility meters, safety procedures, industry regulations and meter calibration and installation. Completing them may involve a written, practical or oral examination.
3. Get a driving licence
A valid driving licence is usually necessary for a meter technician role. Companies often provide vehicles to enable technicians to travel along their assigned routes as they read and record meter readings. You can begin by applying for a provisional driving licence. The requirements to qualify for one include a minimum age of 15 years and nine months, the ability to read a number plate from a certain distance and evidence of residency permission for at least 185 days.
A provisional licence allows you to drive on all roads except motorways under the supervision of a driving instructor or another driver over 21 who has held a full driving licence for longer than three years. You can apply for a full driving licence on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website. The DVLA usually sends this once you've passed your theory and practical test.
4. Prepare your application materials
Writing your application documents in advance helps you apply for jobs efficiently. Hiring managers may require you to submit a CV and cover letter describing why you're the right candidate. Include your GCSEs on your CV to prove you've completed secondary school.
Also, add any internships or volunteer work you've undertaken at a utility provider when describing your experience level. If you've worked previously as a meter technician, mention the company you worked for, the specific tasks you handled and your accomplishments in the role. Quantify your achievements using numbers or percentages to give the hiring committee a good idea of the value you can bring to the organisation.
Related: Writing a CV with no experience
5. Gain work experience
Since the job doesn't require many academic qualifications, getting some work experience can give you a competitive advantage over other candidates. Joining professional organisations helps you access other industry experts and may offer mentorship opportunities. You can learn from your mentors how to effectively handle your tasks. They can also identify the skills you can work on to improve your job prospects.
6. Apply for jobs
After preparing your application materials, start submitting job applications. Consider reviewing utility providers' websites and social media platforms when looking for vacancies. Many companies post job advertisements through professional organisations, so joining these bodies can make job searching easier.
7. Complete in-service training
Many organisations offer training to new hires during their initial employment stages. This may involve some mathematics modules to help you accurately perform calculations. Employers specialising in providing electricity may instruct employees on alternating current and direct current theory. Learning this equips you with the appropriate knowledge to identify issues and repair meters. Hiring managers often collaborate with training consultants to develop a customised programme to meet the organisation's needs. This can enable you to work with water, gas, electricity and other utility meters.
Meter reading skills
The following are some skills that can help you successfully perform a meter technician's role:
Operating meters and associated tools makes your role as a meter technician easier. The job involves installing utility meters for new clients or disconnecting them when necessary. You can also use your meter operation skills to determine when a meter isn't functioning correctly and to perform repairs. To acquire these skills, consider completing the job's in-service training or a vocational course on meter operation.
Knowledge of mathematics
Understanding fundamental mathematics helps you accurately perform your meter technician tasks. The job requires you to read the meter values and compare them with previous readings to determine a client's usage over a particular period. You can then multiply the units they use by the standard rate to determine how much to charge them.
Although employers often provide vehicles to meter technicians to help them navigate their assigned routes, sometimes they may walk long distances around neighbourhoods to perform their tasks. This can be a strenuous activity requiring stamina and physical fitness. Consider improving and maintaining your fitness through regular exercise at home or going to the gym.
Many organisations use applications that automate the billing process. Once you input the meter readings into the system, they automatically calculate the total amount to charge. Computer literacy helps you effectively use this software to ensure accurate calculations and store utility reports.
FAQs about meter reading
Below are some FAQs about meter operator roles and their answers:
What are the advancement opportunities for a meter technician?
Meter technician roles are typically entry-level positions. You can achieve career advancement by building your skills and work experience. Some jobs for experienced meter technicians include superviser, dispatcher and distributor roles.
What is a meter technician's work environment?
Meter technicians often work outdoors as they travel around reading utility meters. They spend a lot of time driving along their routes and moving around various properties when performing their job. They may also work indoors, preparing reports for their supervisors and billing clients.
Do meter technicians stop at every property on their routes?
No, they don't. Some utility providers set up systems with remote access to check meter values without physically visiting the property. Some meter types can send the readings directly using radio transmitters when the meter readers drive by, allowing them to remain in their vehicles as they perform their duties.
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