A career in electrical transmission installation may involve working as an electrician, a plant operator, or a distributor and dispatcher. Electricians connect new homes to power grids, replace and repair damaged lines, or maintain electrical systems. Power plant operators are responsible for how much power equipment such as boilers, generators and turbines produce, while power distributors and dispatchers control the flow of electricity through power lines and regulate the current and voltage.
Students can pursue electrical and power transmission installation careers with only a high school diploma; however, they generally receive formal training to get started in the field. Degree programs in electrical power transmission and installation can prepare students for a variety of careers, including electricians, power plant operators and power distributors and dispatchers. Students can learn how to keep up the production, transmission and delivery of electricity to homes, factories and businesses.
|Career||Electrician||Plant Operator||Distributor & Dispatcher|
|Required Education||High school diploma||High school diploma||High school diploma|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||14%||-7%||-5%|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$51,880||$71,940||$80,840|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Associate degree programs, such as the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Electrical and Power Transmission Technology, can teach students how to connect circuits, set up power lines, monitor power plants and repair electrical damage. Common course topics include national electrical codes, electricity fundamentals and motor repair.
Apprenticeship and Training
While those applying for electrical and power transmission technology positions may benefit from studying through a formal degree program, on-the-job training is commonly required for most professional positions, such as electricians and power plant operators. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that many electricians train through a formal apprenticeship.
This paid training generally takes four tears to complete and is available through contractor associations, community colleges and unions. Although the BLS notes that many employers prefer prospective power plant distributors, operators or dispatchers to have a degree, several years of on-the-job training is common for these positions.
License and Certification Requirements
Licensure as an electrician is required by many states, and requirements may vary from state to state. Power plant operators, distributors and dispatchers who work in positions that may affect the power grid typically need certification through the North American Energy Reliability Corporation's (NERC) System Operator Certification Program.
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The following are just a few career options for those who complete an apprenticeship or degree program in electrical and power transmission installation.
Electricians work for power companies, private electrical installation and repair businesses, construction firms, industrial production facilities and in any other setting where electrical equipment is required to meet business and consumer demand. Some electricians connect new homes to existing power grids. Others work in large factories, maintaining and repairing electrical systems of all kinds. As of May 2015, the BLS stated that electricians earned a median annual salary of $51,880. Additionally, from 2014-2024, the BLS predicted that electricians would see a 14% growth in employment, which is faster than the national average for all occupations.
Power Plant Operator
These workers control generation of power from boilers, generators, turbines and other equipment in power generation plants. Operators control where the power is generated and how it is combined from different sources, as well as regulate the flow of power. They also monitor changes in demand and connect or disconnect power sources accordingly. The BLS predicted that power plant operators would see a decline of 7% in employment from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the BLS stated that the median annual income for these professionals was $71,940.
Power Distributor and Dispatcher
Power distributors and dispatchers monitor and control flows of electricity through transmission lines to industrial destinations and the local substations that distribute power to residential areas. They regulate current and voltage, making sure that flows are as consistent as possible and that power is supplied when needed in the required quantities. They need to be able to forecast power needs, monitoring factors such as weather and the peaks and troughs of industrial demand. The BLS predicted that power distributors and dispatchers would see a 5% decline in employment from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the BLS stated that these professionals earned a median annual salary of $80,840.
Although a high school diploma may be sufficient to begin a career as an electrical transmission installer, a license or certification will be required. Those preparing to enter this field can expect on-the-job training. An associate's degree may appeal to potential employers and help increase job prospects.