|Position Title||Power Plant Operator|
|Education & Training Level||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Education & Training Level Description||Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers typically need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. However, employers may prefer workers who have a college or vocational school degree. Employers generally look for people with strong math and science backgrounds for these highly technical jobs. Understanding electricity and math, especially algebra and trigonometry, is important.|
|Brief job description||Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control the systems that generate and distribute electric power.|
|Preferred Level of Education||High school diploma or equivalent plus extensive on the job training|
|Preferred Level of Experience||See the Bureau of Labor Statistics|
|Estimated/Expected Salary||See the Bureau of Labor Statistics|
|Job Profile||Electricity is one of our nation’s most vital resources. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control power plants and the flow of electricity from plants to substations, which distribute electricity to businesses, homes, and factories. Electricity is generated from many sources, including coal, gas, nuclear energy, hydroelectric energy (from water sources), wind energy, and solar power. Power distributors and dispatchers, also known as systems operators, control the flow of electricity as it travels from generating stations to substations and users. In exercising such control, they monitor and operate current converters, voltage transformers, and circuit breakers over a network of transmission and distribution lines. They prepare and issue switching orders to route electrical currents around areas that need maintenance or repair. They detect and respond to emergencies, such as transformer or transmission line failures, which can cause cascading power outages over the network. They may work with plant operators to troubleshoot issues with electricity generation. Power plant operators control, operate, and maintain machinery to generate electricity. They use control boards to distribute power among generators and regulate the output of several generators. They monitor instruments to maintain voltage and electricity flows from the plant to meet fluctuating consumer demand throughout the day. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers typically do the following: Control power-generating equipment, which may use any one type of fuel, such as coal, nuclear power, or natural gas Read charts, meters, and gauges to monitor voltage and electricity flows Check equipment and indicators to detect evidence of operating problems Adjust controls to regulate the flow of power Start or stop generators, turbines, and other equipment as necessary.|
|Job Skills||Power plant operators and dispatchers undergo rigorous, long-term, on-the-job training and technical instruction. Several years of on-site training and experience are necessary for a worker to become fully qualified. Even fully qualified operators and dispatchers must take regular training courses to keep their skills up to date. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers, who are in positions that could affect the power grid, may need to be certified through the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s System Operator Certification Program. Concentration skills. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers must be careful, attentive, and persistent. They must be able to concentrate on a task, such as monitoring the temperature of reactors over a certain length of time, without being distracted.|
Detail-oriented focus. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers must monitor complex controls and intricate machinery to ensure that everything is operating properly.
Dexterity. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers must use precise and repeated motions when working in a control room.
Mechanical skills. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers must know how to work with machines and use tools. They must be familiar with how to operate, repair, and maintain equipment.
Problem-solving skills. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers must find and quickly solve problems that arise with equipment or controls.
|Resources||Bureau of Labor Statistics: Power Plant Operators|