Power Plant Operators
Also called: Auxiliary Operator, Control Operator, Control Room Operator, Operations and Maintenance Technician (O & M Technician)
Produced by CareerOneStop
Video transcript: skip transcript
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:Control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.
On the job, you would:
- Adjust controls to generate specified electrical power or to regulate the flow of power between generating stations and substations.
- Monitor power plant equipment and indicators to detect evidence of operating problems.
- Control generator output to match the phase, frequency, or voltage of electricity supplied to panels.
Engineering and Technology
Arts and Humanities
- English language
- thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
- talking to others
- noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
- listen and understand what people say
- communicate by speaking
Ideas and Logic
- notice when problems happen
- use rules to solve problems
- pay attention to something without being distracted
- do two or more things at the same time
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
- Stress Tolerance
- Self Control
You might use software like this on the job:
Industrial control software
- Distributed control system DCS
- General Electric Mark VI Distributed Control System DCS
Electronic mail software
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.