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What is a Power Plant Operator?

Occupation Description Control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.

Life As a Power Plant Operator: What Do They Do?

  • Receive outage calls and request necessary personnel during power outages or emergencies.
  • Clean, lubricate, or maintain equipment, such as generators, turbines, pumps, or compressors, to prevent failure or deterioration.
  • Inspect thermal barrier coatings on integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) equipment for sintering, phase destabilization, or temperature variances to ensure compliance with standards and insulation efficiency.
  • Operate, control, or monitor equipment, such as acid or gas carbon dioxide removal units, carbon dioxide compressors, or pipelines, to capture, store, or transport carbon dioxide exhaust.
  • Open and close valves and switches in sequence to start or shut down auxiliary units.
  • Operate or maintain distributed power generation equipment, including fuel cells or microturbines, to produce energy on-site for manufacturing or other commercial purposes.

Qualities of a Power Plant Operator

When polled, Power Plant Operators say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

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 Jobs

  • Powerhouse Operator
  • Booster Plant Operator
  • Instrument/Control Technician
  • Station Tender
  • Pilot Plant Technician

Job Opportunities for Power Plant Operators

In the United States, there were 36,100 jobs for Power Plant Operator in 2016. 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.

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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.

Average Power Plant Operators Salary

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

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

How much do Power Plant Operators make in each U.S. state?

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

What Tools do Power Plant Operators Use?

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 do I Become a Power Plant Operator?

Education needed to be a Power Plant Operator:

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How many years of work experience do I need?

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Where do Power Plant Operators Work?

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Below are examples of industries where Power Plant Operators work:

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You May Also Be Interested In…

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

Are you already one of the many Power Plant Operator in the United States? If you’re thinking about changing careers, these fields are worth exploring:

References:

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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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