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:
Operate or control nuclear reactors. Move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, and record data in logs. Implement emergency procedures when needed. May respond to abnormalities, determine cause, and recommend corrective action.
On the job, you would:
Operate nuclear power reactors in accordance with policies and procedures to protect workers from radiation and to ensure environmental safety.
Adjust controls to position rod and to regulate flux level, reactor period, coolant temperature, or rate of power flow, following standard procedures.
Develop or implement actions such as lockouts, tagouts, or clearances to allow equipment to be safely repaired.
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
Engineering and Technology
product and service development
Safety and Government
public safety and security
reading work related information
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Ideas and Logic
notice when problems happen
order or arrange things
quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things
see hidden patterns
pay attention to something without being distracted
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:
Data base user interface and query software
Plant information data entry software
Office suite software
high school diploma/GED or certificate after high school usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.