Career Definition for Power Plant Technicians
A power plant technician is responsible for controlling and monitoring all of the equipment found in power plants, such as boilers, turbines and generators. Technicians control the amount of power by maintaining the electricity and voltage throughout the power plant. Technicians also use computer systems to adjust power levels, and are able to connect and disconnect them from their circuits. Power plant technicians might work in nuclear, coal, geothermal or hydroelectric power plants.
|Education||High school diploma or GED and on the job training; vocational education is available; licensure and continuing education are required|
|Job Skills||Observational skills, repairing and troubleshooting, understanding of power plant equipment|
|Median Salary*||$79,610 (2018)|
|Career Outlook*||1% (2016-2026)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
To become a power plant technician, prospective applicants must have received a high school diploma or its equivalent. Most companies provide power plant technicians with on-the-job training, but there many vocational school and colleges that offer degrees in the field. Companies provide extensive training to their power plant technicians, which includes both field and classroom work. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires that applicants pass a licensing exam before working with power plant equipment. Power plant technicians are also required to continue attending refresher training courses while working in this industry.
Power plant technicians need to have an extensive understanding of all equipment located in a power plant. Not only do power plant technicians need to run these machines, but it is essential that they know how to repair and troubleshoot these systems as well. Excellent observational skills are needed to review dials and gauges and to ensure that all safety regulations are met.
Economic and Career Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for power plant operators were expected to increase by 1% between 2016 and 2026. The decline is due to new and more efficient automated technologies and the closure of several power plants. According to the BLS, the median salary for a power plant operator was $79,610 per year as of May 2018.
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Those interested in operating equipment that provides utilities for factories or other buildings should consider becoming a stationary engineer. These engineers maintain and operate machines such as air conditioning units, generators, compressors, turbines and pumps. They power up the equipment, observe gauges and meters, control fluid and power levels, perform routine safety inspections and log all operational activities. To work in this field, a high school diploma is all the formal education needed. However, many employers prefer to hire stationary engineers who have completed an apprenticeship. Some states also require licensure, which one can obtain by gaining work experience and passing an exam. The BLS projects a 5% increase in job opportunities for stationary engineers and boiler operators during the 2016-2026 decade. As seen in 2018 figures, the BLS determined that stationary engineers earned a median yearly income of $60,440.
Electrical Power-Line Installer
If putting together the infrastructure that transfers power from plants to customers sounds appealing, becoming an electrical power-line installer could be the right career choice. Power-line installers locate install sites and equipment, hang lines on poles and around buildings, test voltage running through lines and inspect equipment for flaws or defects. Although many enter this profession with only a high school diploma, many employers prefer candidates with technical training from a vocational school or an apprenticeship. According to BLS data from 2018, electrical power-line installers and repairers in the U.S. received a median annual salary of $70,910. Employment growth of 14% is predicted for these professionals between 2016 and 2026, as stated by the BLS.