| Latest AWWA survey reports overall increase in water sector compensation
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Latest AWWA survey reports overall increase in water sector compensation

2022 AWWA Compensation SurveyThe North American water sector is experiencing increases in compensation across all sizes of utilities, according to a 2022 survey conducted by the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

The 25th annual Water and Wastewater Utilities Compensation Survey showed that from 2021 to 2022, large utilities' salaries increased 1.7% and small utilities' salaries increased 1.9%. Medium-sized utilities' salaries showed the most significant increase at 8.7%. Across all utilities, average actual 2022 increases were higher than projected for all occupations.

Sherri Jones“Water utilities provide the vital infrastructure for homes and businesses, which makes utility employees important leaders in rebuilding the country," said Sherri Jones, workforce development and recruitment manager for the City of Charlotte in North Carolina and a member of AWWA's Workforce Strategies Committee.


In addition to increased compensation, some water utilities have also experienced employment growth. Of the 605 organizations that responded to this question, 60.2% (364) maintained consistent staffing levels and 35% (212) increased staffing levels (full- and part-time) in the past 12 months. Another 14.7% (89) hired additional contract/seasonal or temporary labor. Just 2.1% (13) implemented a reduction-in-force. Additionally, 11.7% (71) modified work schedules and/or expectations (including furloughs).

The survey was compiled from 653 utility participants supplying data for more than 33,000 employees as of February 2022. 

AWWA’s compensation survey is the largest, most complete compilation of salary data for the water and wastewater industries, providing data and analysis of salaries, salary ranges, and compensation practices for water and combined water services utilities across North America. To reflect competitive labor markets more accurately, survey results are reported in separate versions for large, medium and small utilities. The complete reports can be purchased on AWWA's website.

Other highlights from the 2022 survey include:

  • Planned 2022 salary increases: Of the total survey participants representing small, medium-sized and large utilities, 45% plan to implement merit increases at the same level as in 2021. 
    • 24.0%  plan to implement merit increases at higher levels
    • 3.6% plan to implement merit increases at reduced levels 
  • Actual salary increases: Across all groups, average actual 2022 increases were higher than those projected for all occupational groups. 
  • Projected 2023 salary increases: For 2023, overall projected increases average around 3.65% for executives, 3.78% for managers, 3.68% for supervisors, and 3.76% for staff.

"As we look for innovative ways to improve intergenerational and economic mobility outlooks, creating workforce development programs makes sense now more than ever," said Jones. "Pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeships are programs that will allow water utilities to effectively develop the workforce that is needed and provide the additional support and resources that the workforce desires.”