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What is a Power Plant Operator?

Power Plant Operator Example Control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.

What Do Power Plant Operators Do On a Daily Basis?

  • Receive outage calls and request necessary personnel during power outages or emergencies.
  • Inspect records or log book entries or communicate with plant personnel to assess equipment operating status.
  • Communicate with systems operators to regulate and coordinate line voltages and transmission loads and frequencies.
  • Make adjustments or minor repairs, such as tightening leaking gland or pipe joints.
  • Open and close valves and switches in sequence to start or shut down auxiliary units.
  • Control power generating equipment, including boilers, turbines, generators, or reactors, using control boards or semi-automatic equipment.

Things a Power Plant Operator Should Know How to Do

Below is a list of the skills most Power Plant Operators say are important on the job.

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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.

Quality Control Analysis: Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

Types of Power Plant Operator

  • Operations and Maintenance Specialist (O&M Specialist)
  • Station Operator
  • Hydroelectric Station Operator
  • Powerhouse Attendant
  • High Pressure Firer

Is There Job Demand for Power Plant Operators?

There were about 36,100 jobs for Power Plant Operator in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 1.1% which is below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 400 new jobs for Power Plant Operator by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 3,200 job openings in this field each year.


The states with the most job growth for Power Plant Operator are Nevada, Texas, and North Dakota. Watch out if you plan on working in Wisconsin, Montana, or Maine. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Power Plant Operator Salary

The salary for Power Plant Operators ranges between about $45,590 and $106,650 a year.


Power Plant Operators who work in California, Washington, or Hawaii, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Power Plant Operators in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $70,890
Alaska $63,310
Arkansas $69,980
California $93,610
Colorado $78,060
Connecticut $77,550
Florida $72,950
Georgia $70,640
Hawaii $90,650
Idaho $68,280
Illinois $72,060
Indiana $68,330
Iowa $77,140
Kansas $57,030
Kentucky $80,870
Louisiana $71,380
Maine $69,300
Maryland $87,040
Massachusetts $79,370
Michigan $80,420
Minnesota $82,100
Mississippi $76,740
Missouri $76,320
Montana $83,580
Nebraska $70,350
Nevada $87,230
New Hampshire $67,060
New Jersey $84,190
New Mexico $81,690
New York $87,360
North Carolina $79,900
North Dakota $87,130
Ohio $73,650
Oklahoma $67,570
Oregon $79,300
Pennsylvania $72,550
South Carolina $71,630
Tennessee $77,880
Texas $74,380
Utah $75,590
Vermont $63,550
Virginia $62,360
Washington $93,600
West Virginia $65,810
Wisconsin $67,150
Wyoming $78,890

Tools & Technologies Used by Power Plant Operators

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Power Plant Operators may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft Access
  • Email software
  • Supervisory control and data acquisition SCADA software
  • Computerized maintenance management system CMMS
  • Distributed control system DCS
  • Interlock shutdown systems

How to Become a Power Plant Operator

What kind of Power Plant Operator requirements are there?


How many years of work experience do I need?


Where do Power Plant Operators Work?


The table below shows the approximate number of Power Plant Operators employed by various industries.


You May Also Be Interested In…

Those thinking about becoming a Power Plant Operator might also be interested in the following careers:

Those who work as a Power Plant Operator sometimes switch careers to one of these choices:


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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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