|Education Required||High school diploma or equivalent; some employers may require a bachelor's degree|
|Degree Fields||Electrical engineering, power plant technology, or a related field|
|Training||Entry-level technicians may have to complete up to 3 years of training|
|Licensure and Certification||Licensure may be required for some jobs|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||6% decline|
|Salary||$75,660 (2015 median salary for all power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Power plant technicians assist with the operation of power facilities by monitoring and testing equipment, pollution levels, and output levels. They also help maintain equipment and ensure safe plant function. These techs often work on long, rotating shifts to ensure around-the-clock coverage, which may be stressful for some.
They should be detail-oriented and have concentration skills, dexterity, mechanical skills, and problem-solving skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015, power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers earned a median salary of $75,660 per year.
Power plant technicians are required to have a high school diploma or GED, but a college degree isn't always required. Formal postsecondary education can lead to increased job opportunities, however, and certain employers may require it. Degrees are more common for power plant technicians working at nuclear plants. Degree programs in engineering, power plant technology, or similar fields can benefit those looking to work in this field.
Power plant technician jobs are declining slightly among non-nuclear power companies, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a 6% drop between 2014 and 2024. Despite this, opportunities for employment are expected to continue to be good, given that many current technicians are reaching retirement age.
After being hired to a job, power plant technicians attend training both on the job and in classrooms. Depending on the job, up to three years of training may be required before students are considered fully capable power plant technicians.
Get Licensed or Certified
Depending on the facility and specific role, power plant technicians may be required to become licensed in a number of areas. Power plant technicians who work with nuclear reactors must be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Power plant technicians who are capable of altering the power grid must be certified by the North American Energy Reliability Corporation.
Power plant technicians continue to take classes and attend training throughout their careers. Training can include work with simulators to practice response to various emergency situations and blackouts. These courses act as refreshers and introduce new technology and equipment.
To recap, aspiring power plant technicians might be required to have a college degree. They typically also need to complete up to three years of on-the-job training and may need to get licensed or certified, depending on their particular role in the plant.