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.
Control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
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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.
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.
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.
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
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.
Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
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.
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.
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.
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
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.
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
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.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
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/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
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