What Does A Power Plant Operator Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Stan T.Career, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Power Plant Operators

Power Plant Operators control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.

Salary
$81890
Becoming One
Easy
Education
No degree required
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Power Plant Operators control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.

  • 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.
  • Control or maintain auxiliary equipment, such as pumps, fans, compressors, condensers, feedwater heaters, filters, or chlorinators, to supply water, fuel, lubricants, air, or auxiliary power.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Power Plant Operators monitor power plant equipment and indicators to detect evidence of operating problems. They control power generating equipment, including boilers, turbines, generators, or reactors, using control boards or semi-automatic equipment.

A typical day for a Power Plant Operator will also include:

  • Clean, lubricate, or maintain equipment, such as generators, turbines, pumps, or compressors, to prevent failure or deterioration.
  • Adjust controls to generate specified electrical power or to regulate the flow of power between generating stations and substations.
  • Inspect records or logbook entries or communicate with plant personnel to assess equipment operating status.
  • Regulate equipment operations and conditions, such as water levels, based on instrument data or from computers.
  • Make adjustments or minor repairs, such as tightening the leaking gland or pipe joints.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Power Plant Operators also replenish electrolytes in batteries and oil in voltage transformers and reset tripped electric relays. They may also receive outage calls and request necessary personnel during power outages or emergencies.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Power Plant Operators place standby emergency electrical generators online in emergencies and monitor the temperature, output, and lubrication of the system. They might also 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.

In addition, they collect oil, water, or electrolyte samples for laboratory analysis.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them examine and test electrical power distribution machinery and equipment, using testing devices.

To some Power Plant Operators, it is also their responsibility to make adjustments or minor repairs, such as tightening leaking glands or pipe joints.

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What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Very High

Is this job meaningful

Very High

81% said they were satisfied with their job and 69% said they found their job meaningful.


Pros

Suitable for people who like practical and hands-on work.

Suitable for people who want to work in a supportive work environment.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

It is easy to get into this career. Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

Normal working hours (40 hours per week).

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to help and teach others.

Demand for this career is declining.

How much do they make

Average salary

$81890 per year

Average hourly wage

$39 per hour

Entry-level Power Plant Operators with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $48,090 to $65,300 per year or $23 to $31 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $111,470 $54
Senior (Top 25%) $99,890 $48
Median $84,650 $41
Junior (Bottom 25%) $65,300 $31
No experience (Bottom 10%) $48,090 $23

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Power Plant Operators based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Natural Gas Distribution $103730 $49.87
Federal Executive Branch $94970 $45.66
Commercial and Industrial Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance $85440 $41.08
Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution $84030 $40.40
Management of Companies and Enterprises $83430 $40.11
Local Government $77150 $37.09
State Government $76870 $36.96
Waste Treatment and Disposal $75490 $36.29
Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services $74530 $35.83
Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard Mills $71920 $34.58

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Power Plant Operators work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Power Plant Operators including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution 22200 $84030 $40.40
Local Government 3650 $77150 $37.09
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 940 $64620 $31.07
Natural Gas Distribution 870 $103730 $49.87
Waste Treatment and Disposal 700 $75490 $36.29
Federal Executive Branch 670 $94970 $45.66
State Government 620 $76870 $36.96
Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services 620 $74530 $35.83
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 450 $62300 $29.95
Management of Companies and Enterprises 410 $83430 $40.11

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
0%

40 hours
60%

More than 40 hours
40%

Working schedule

84%

16%

0%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
11%

Every day
53%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
33%

Every day
55%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
16%

Every day
77%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
65%

Once a year
10%

Once a month
7%

Once a week
15%

Every day
4%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
18%

Slightly competitive
36%

Moderately competitive
26%

Highly competitive
12%

Extremely competitive
7%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
17%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
2%

Once a week or more
18%

Every day
63%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
2%

Once a year or more
2%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
21%

Every day
74%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
5%

Once a year or more
4%

Once a month or more
5%

Once a week or more
49%

Every day
36%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
10%

Once a year or more
5%

Once a month or more
21%

Once a week or more
37%

Every day
27%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Easy
You may need some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Most careers in this difficulty category usually don’t require a degree. However, you will need a few months of on-the-job training with experienced employees. Similar careers include Customer Service Representatives, Security Guards, and Bank Tellers.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
74%

Post-Secondary Certificate
21%

Some College Courses
2%

Associate’s Degree or similar
3%

Bachelor’s Degree
0%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
0%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant majors

Power Plant Technology

A program that prepares individuals to apply basic engineering principles and technical skills in support of engineers engaged in the operation and maintenance of electricity generating power plants. Includes instruction in basic electricity, electrical power, generator operations, industrial controls, power plant instrumentation, power plant theory, pollution control, reactor theory, thermodynamics, turbines, and water chemistry.

Hydroelectric Energy Technology

A program that prepares individuals to apply basic engineering principles and technical skills in support of engineers and other professionals engaged in developing hydroelectric energy systems. Includes instruction in hydroelectric energy principles, energy storage and transfer technologies, testing and inspection procedures, system maintenance procedures, and report preparation.

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
31%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
1%

6 months to 1 year
3%

1 to 2 years
17%

2 to 4 years
16%

4 to 6 years
19%

6 to 8 years
6%

8 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
6%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
0%

1 month
6%

1 to 3 months
23%

3 to 6 months
16%

6 months to 1 year
12%

1 to 2 years
17%

2 to 4 years
14%

4 to 10 years
12%

Over 10 years
1%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Builder

People with this personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

The Builder
90%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
29%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
14%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
14%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
33%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
62%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

They also like following set procedures and routines. They like working with data and details more than with ideas.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
48%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
50%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
38%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
71%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
81%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
52%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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