Top 10 reasons to consider a co-op career

There are many ways to earn a paycheck, but some are more rewarding than others. Here are 10 reasons to consider joining the electric cooperative family.

10. Tech-focused: The electricity industry is at the ­leading edge of a global energy revolution. Rapid advances in renewable generation, energy storage and smart grid technologies will change the way we use electricity. If you work at an electric cooperative, you can be part of this once-in-a-lifetime industry transformation.

9. Business on a human scale: Cooperatives hold themselves to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity while still maintaining a close-knit, family-friendly working environment. Decisions are made locally by managers who know employees by name, not halfway across the country in some corporate headquarters. Their smaller size and local control also gives co-ops more ­flexibility to innovate and try new ideas to improve the ­service they provide.

8. Support a clean environment: Electricity is one of our cleanest energy sources, and as technology improves, electric cars, next-generation heating and cooling systems, home automation and other forms of environmentally beneficial electrification will reduce our reliance on less efficient forms of energy.

7. Retirement security: It might seem a long way off today, but we all need to plan for retirement. Co-op employees deliver a valuable service to their communities, and they’re rewarded for that dedication with outstanding retirement benefits. Many co-ops offer both a 401(k) plan and a defined-benefit pension plan.

6. National reach: America’s 900-plus electric ­cooperatives serve 47 states and 56 percent of our nation’s landmass. So whether you want to stay in your hometown or explore another part of the country, odds are good that there will be an electric cooperative nearby.

5. Stability: There are no guarantees in life, but some bets are safer than others. Electronics play a critical and ­growing role in our daily lives, and as our reliance on technology increases, so too will our demand for electricity. As long as we need electricity, we’ll need workers to ensure it is safe, reliable and affordable.

4. Principles, not profit: When you work for an electric cooperative, you’re not helping some Wall Street elite get richer. You’re working to serve your friends, family and neighbors who collectively own the cooperative.

3. Join a global movement: As a member of the co-op family, you’re part of something much larger than yourself. The cooperative movement represents a human-centered, ethically driven way of doing business. More than 250 million people around the world earn their ­living working in cooperatives, and the cooperative economy generates approximately $2.5 trillion in global economic activity each year.

2. Competitive pay: You won’t get rich working for your local electric co-op, but you’ll enjoy excellent pay and ­benefits that can help you and the people you love achieve the American dream.

1. Build a stronger community: Safe, reliable and ­affordable energy is critical to the health and prosperity of a community. Electric cooperatives power our homes, schools, farms and businesses, and keep rural America ­connected to the global economy.

To learn more about a cooperative career, contact your local electric co-op.

Justin LaBerge writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus ­consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.