Power plant technology associate's degree programs focus on the fundamentals of electrical power, the role of boilers and turbines in generating electricity, pollution control systems, and the characteristics of coal, nuclear, hydro, and renewable plants. Lab courses teach aspiring power plant operators to read instruments, adjust computer controls, and perform preventive maintenance. Licensure is required of specialists who work in nuclear power plants. Examinations are given to test their knowledge and skill levels.
Associate's Degree in Power Plant Technology
Applicants need a high school diploma or GED for admission to an associate's degree program. Some schools will also accept passing scores on the Compass ATB test. Supporting courses in technical writing, computer basics, and algebra are frequently part of the curricula of power plant associate's degree programs. Course topics specific to power plant technology may include:
- Power distribution systems
- Power generation systems
- Energy conversion technologies
- Power plant operating procedures
- Safety procedures
- Instruments and controls
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates of a power plant technology associate's degree program can pursue careers as power plant operators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between the years 2018 and 2028, the employment of power plant operators in non-nuclear facilities is expected to decrease by 5%. Growth will be limited by cost cutting measures and improvements in energy efficiency. Power plant operators earned a median yearly salary of $79,610 as of May 2018, reports the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Associate's degree holders who want to work in a nuclear power plant can improve their employment prospects by earning a bachelor's degree in engineering or physics. Many nuclear power plant operators have bachelor's degrees, although it isn't explicitly required for all positions. Some schools might accept some of the credits earned in a power plant technology associate's degree program. Additionally, nuclear power plant operators must be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This licensure requires a background check and completion of an exam.
Individuals pursuing a power plant technology associate's degree are exposed to power distribution and generation systems, instruments, controls, and safety procedures. Students may choose to enter jobs as power plant operators or continue their education in a bachelor's degree program to improve their chances of employment in the field.