From individual home furnaces to the bright lights of the big city… keeping homes and businesses powered-up takes round-the-clock operations at power plants. Whether from coal, gas, nuclear energy, wind, or solar sources… power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control the systems that provide electric power. Nuclear power reactor operators control nuclear reactors. They monitor reactor equipment and systems, adjusting controls as needed. Operators may need to respond to abnormalities, determine the causes, and fix the issue. They must be licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Power plant operators oversee machinery to generate electricity, and keep the system in balance and under control. They monitor instruments to maintain voltage and electricity flows from the plant to meet consumers’ fluctuating demand for electricity. Power distributors and dispatchers control the flow of electricity traveling from generating stations to substations and to users. They reroute electrical currents around areas that need maintenance or repair, and prevent further damage during emergency outages. Many of these workers operate in highly secure environments, and give their full attention to monitoring controls during their shift… occasionally walking rounds to check equipment. Work schedules are often rotating 8- or 12-hour shifts, which can be wearing as living and sleeping patterns change frequently. While job requirements may vary from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree, these jobs all require extensive on-the-job training. Candidates must pass background checks, as well as drug and alcohol screenings. An understanding of mechanical concepts, spatial ability, and mathematical ability are necessary.
What they do:
Coordinate, regulate, or distribute electricity or steam.
On the job, you would:
Respond to emergencies, such as transformer or transmission line failures, and route current around affected areas.
Prepare switching orders that will isolate work areas without causing power outages, referring to drawings of power systems.
Control, monitor, or operate equipment that regulates or distributes electricity or steam, using data obtained from instruments or computers.
Safety and Government
public safety and security
Arts and Humanities
Engineering and Technology
product and service development
computers and electronics
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Ideas and Logic
notice when problems happen
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things
see hidden patterns
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Industrial control software
ABB MicroSCADA Pro DMS
high school diploma/GED or certificate after high school usually needed
Examples of Registered Apprenticeship programs include:
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.
Green jobs will increase the demand for this type of work.