Power Plant Operator

DESCRIPTION
Power plant operators are responsible for the control and operation of equipment and machinery that generates electric power in power generating plants. Operators are responsible for monitoring instruments and collecting data to regulate electricity output to meet demand.

Power plant operators are responsible for equipment troubleshooting and maintenance to ensure reliable operation.

Power plant operators may be classified by what type of power generating system they have been trained in such as: hydroelectric, fossil fuel, geothermal, nuclear, or solar.

Operators must be good problems solvers and stay alert to be able to notice and correct any issues that might arise in a timely manner.

Operators must have good computer skills in addition to accurate data collection, documentation and record-keeping skills.

Power plant operators may work in a variety of settings within a power plant. Operators spend most of their time working in a power plant’s control room, but they also spend time making rounds through the plant when performing inspections or maintenance. Since supplying electrical power is a 24-hour job, operators usually work on a continuous basis in rotating shifts.

Many states require power plant operators to hold special licensure or certification. Operators are required to attend continuing education courses to maintain their licenses.

EMPLOYERS
Utility companies, electric power generating plants, private contractors.

EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS
Employers may only require a high school diploma along with an established minimum level of technical knowledge and experience. Most operators have attended career or technical school or have participated in extensive on-the-job training or apprenticeships. An associate degree or even bachelor’s degree might be required by some companies.

LINKS TO CAREER/INDUSTRY RESOURCES 
Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers Career Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug9QtgaRplo
Get into Energy Career Profile: Plant Operator: http://getintoenergy.com/plant-operator/
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW): http://www.ibew.org
American Public Power Association:  https://www.publicpower.org/
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: http://www.nrc.gov
O*NET Online: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/51-8013.00

Photos courtesy Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Tennessee Valley Authority.

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