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Power Plant Operator

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What is a Power Plant Operator?

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

A Day in the Life of a Power Plant Operator

  • Adjust controls to generate specified electrical power or to regulate the flow of power between generating stations and substations.
  • Open and close valves and switches in sequence to start or shut down auxiliary units.
  • Clean, lubricate, or maintain equipment, such as generators, turbines, pumps, or compressors, to prevent failure or deterioration.
  • Inspect records or log book entries or communicate with plant personnel to assess equipment operating status.
  • Operate or maintain distributed power generation equipment, including fuel cells or microturbines, to produce energy on-site for manufacturing or other commercial purposes.
  • Record and compile operational data by completing and maintaining forms, logs, or reports.

What Skills Do You Need to Work as 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.

  • Power Station Operator
  • Instrument/Control Technician
  • Powerhouse Attendant
  • Control Room Operator
  • Turbine Room Attendant

Power Plant Operator Job Outlook

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 36,100 jobs in the United States for Power Plant Operator. 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. The BLS estimates 3,200 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Power Plant Operators in U.S.

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.

Salary for a Power Plant Operator

The typical yearly salary for Power Plant Operators is somewhere between $45,590 and $106,650.

Salary Ranges for Power Plant Operators

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

How much do Power Plant Operators make 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

What Tools & Technology do Power Plant Operators Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Power Plant Operators:

  • 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

Becoming a Power Plant Operator

What education is needed to be a Power Plant Operator?

Power Plant Operator Degree Level

What work experience do I need to become a Power Plant Operator?

Power Plant Operator Work Experience

Where Power Plant Operators Are Employed

Power Plant Operator Sectors

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

Power Plant Operator Industries

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Those interested in being a Power Plant Operator may also be interested in:

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:


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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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