Power Plant Operators

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Also known as:  Hydroelectric Plant Operator, Power Plant Control Room Operator, Powerhouse Operator, Turbine Room Attendant

ABOUT POWER PLANT OPERATOR CAREERS

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT Expand
We're so used to a reliable supply of electricity for our everyday needs that it can come as a shock when it's suddenly not there. Power plant operators keep us plugged in.

These workers control the machinery that generates electricity. They monitor the function of key power plant equipment, ...
such as boilers, turbines and generators. They direct the output of the system to meet constantly changing demands for power. They monitor instruments to make sure electricity is flowing from the plant at adequate, safe levels. This is increasingly done with computers and requires constant attention.

Plant operators spend most of their time in a control room. Auxiliary equipment operators move round the plant more, checking valves, switches and gauges. Round-the-clock staffing is a must. You need at least a high school diploma with strong math and science skills to start as a new hire at a power plant. Computer proficiency would be helpful. Rising through the ranks to the high-paying position of plant operator requires extensive on-the-job training and technical study over several years. But the outlook for advancement in this field is less than electrifying.

Deregulation has forced the industry to restructure to cut costs, and that includes cutting jobs. Still, those with the skills and tenacity to build a career as a power plant operator find it an illuminating way to earn a living.
SNAPSHOT Expand
Control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
MED
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
MED
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
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DAILY TASKS Expand
Control or maintain auxiliary equipment, such as pumps, fans, compressors, condensers, feedwater heaters, filters, or chlorinators, to supply water, fuel, lubricants, air, or auxiliary power.
Make adjustments or minor repairs, such as tightening leaking gland and pipe joints.
Open and close valves and switches in sequence to start or shut down auxiliary units.
Monitor power plant equipment and indicators to detect evidence of operating problems.
Adjust controls to generate specified electrical power or to regulate the flow of power between generating stations and substations.
Collect oil, water, or electrolyte samples for laboratory analysis.
Clean, lubricate, or maintain equipment, such as generators, turbines, pumps, or compressors, to prevent failure or deterioration.
Communicate with systems operators to regulate and coordinate line voltages and transmission loads and frequencies.
Record and compile operational data by completing and maintaining forms, logs, or reports.
Inspect records or log book entries or communicate with plant personnel to assess equipment operating status.
Control power generating equipment, including boilers, turbines, generators, or reactors, using control boards or semi-automatic equipment.
MAIN ACTIVITIES Expand
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE Expand
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Chemistry Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Physics Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
KEY ABILITIES Expand
Oral Comprehension The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Deductive Reasoning The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Problem Sensitivity The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Near Vision The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Selective Attention The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
Written Comprehension The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
TOP SKILLS Expand
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Quality Control Analysis Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Troubleshooting Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
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