Jobs as a power plant operator come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Power plant operators, in general, are in charge of controlling, operating, maintaining, and repairing machines that generate electricity. They are in charge of ensuring that people’s homes and businesses have enough electricity or gas. Operations and maintenance gas turbine technicians, boiler operators, unit operators, operations and maintenance technicians, and plant control operators are all examples of power plant operator jobs.
Power plant operators, also known as control or control center operators, work from a central location in plants with automatic controls. Switchboard operators operate the controls in plants without centralized control systems. A power plant’s auxiliary equipment operator can work anywhere in the facility.
Aside from traditional power plants, the increased focus on alternative energy has resulted in a variety of power plant operator positions. With the rise in wind power production, for example, many power plant operators are also turbine operators. Operators of hydroelectric power plants are another type of power plant operator. Because the type of electricity produced does not pollute the environment, these jobs are considered “green.”
A nuclear power reactor operator is another job title for a power plant operator. This position is similar to that of a power plant operator, except he or she works at a nuclear power plant. Reactor operators are usually required to pass a nuclear energy regulatory agency exam due to the nature of their work. A nuclear power reactor operator is usually required to have prior power plant experience, including some nuclear plant experience.
Controlling and maintaining boilers and turbines, distributing power among generators, regulating output from multiple generators at once, monitoring instruments, communicating with dispatchers, starting and stopping generators as needed, inspecting the plant, and keeping records are all responsibilities of power plant operators. Operators of power plants may be required to work overnight shifts. It is especially critical in nuclear power plants to have a senior reactor operator on duty at all times.
A combination of on-the-job training, education, and experience is usually required to become a power plant operator. Depending on the nature of the work and the type of power being used, different jurisdictions have different licensing requirements. It is usually easier to advance in this field within a company, and most companies promote from within. This is due to the fact that control and safety systems differ significantly between businesses.