Summary Report for:
51-8013.00 - Power Plant Operators
Control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.
Sample of reported job titles: Auxiliary Operator, Control Operator, Control Room Operator, Multicraft Operator (MCO), Operations and Maintenance Technician (O & M Technician), Plant Control Operator, Power Plant Operator, Senior Power Plant Operator, Station Operator, Unit Operator
- Adjust controls to generate specified electrical power or to regulate the flow of power between generating stations and substations.
- Monitor power plant equipment and indicators to detect evidence of operating problems.
- Control generator output to match the phase, frequency, or voltage of electricity supplied to panels.
- Control or maintain auxiliary equipment, such as pumps, fans, compressors, condensers, feedwater heaters, filters, or chlorinators, to supply water, fuel, lubricants, air, or auxiliary power.
- Control power generating equipment, including boilers, turbines, generators, or reactors, using control boards or semi-automatic equipment.
- Start or stop generators, auxiliary pumping equipment, turbines, or other power plant equipment as necessary.
- Open and close valves and switches in sequence to start or shut down auxiliary units.
- Communicate with systems operators to regulate and coordinate line voltages and transmission loads and frequencies.
- Inspect records or log book entries or communicate with plant personnel to assess equipment operating status.
- Regulate equipment operations and conditions, such as water levels, based on instrument data or from computers.
- Take regulatory action, based on readings from charts, meters and gauges, at established intervals.
- Record and compile operational data by completing and maintaining forms, logs, or reports.
- Clean, lubricate, or maintain equipment, such as generators, turbines, pumps, or compressors, to prevent failure or deterioration.
- Place standby emergency electrical generators on line in emergencies and monitor the temperature, output, and lubrication of the system.
- Make adjustments or minor repairs, such as tightening leaking gland and pipe joints.
- Operate, control, or monitor equipment, such as acid or gas carbon dioxide removal units, carbon dioxide compressors, and pipelines, to capture, store, or transport carbon dioxide exhaust.
- Operate, control, or monitor gasifiers or related equipment, such as coolers, water quenches, water gas shifts reactors, or sulfur recovery units, to produce syngas or electricity from coal.
- Operate, control, or monitor integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) or related equipment, such as air separation units, to generate electricity from coal.
- Operate or maintain distributed power generation equipment, including fuel cells or microturbines, to produce energy on-site for manufacturing or other commercial purposes.
- Examine and test electrical power distribution machinery and equipment, using testing devices.
- Receive outage calls and request necessary personnel during power outages or emergencies.
- Replenish electrolytes in batteries and oil in voltage transformers, and reset tripped electric relays.
- Collect oil, water, or electrolyte samples for laboratory analysis.
- Inspect thermal barrier coatings on integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) equipment for sintering, phase destabilization, or temperature variances to ensure compliance with standards and insulation efficiency.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Absorbent booms — Absorbers
- Air dryers — Coal dryers
- Air scrubbers — Dry scrubber systems; Flue gas desulferization systems
- Alarm systems — Annunciators
- Belt conveyors
- Blowers — Soot blowers
- Boiler or heater igniter — Igniters
- Brushless motor DC — Brushless direct current DC motors
- Bucket conveyors — Bucket elevators
- Catalytic combustion analyzers — Catalytic sensors
- Chain conveyors
- Combustible or hazardous gas detectors for power generators — Gas detectors
- Commercial water heaters — Water heaters
- Condensing units — Condensers; Steam condensers
- Conductivity meters — Conductivity probes
- Desktop computers
- Diesel generators — Diesel driven generators
- Digital readout recorders — Digital readouts
- Electrical control panels for generators — Control boards; Panel boards; Transformer controls
- Electrical or power regulators — Unit governors
- Electrostatic apparatus — Excitation systems
- Evaporative coolers — Cooling towers
- Facial shields — Air filtration mask
- Fire tube boilers
- Fixed screens — Screens
- Flow transmitters
- Flowmeters — Flow meters; Turbine flow meters
- Gas engines — Combustion engines
- Gas generators
- Graphic recorders — Analog panel meters; Digital panel meters
- Grease guns
- Hard hats
- Heat exchangers — Fin fan heat exchangers; Plate exchangers; Shell and tube heat exchangers
- Heat pumps
- Impact crushers
- Level sensors or transmitters — Level transmitters
- Limit switch — Limit switches
- Mainframe computers
- Motor compressors
- Oil filters
- Oil gun — Oil guns
- Power supply transformers — Power transformers
- Pressure indicators — Steam gauges; Water gauges
- Pressure transmitters
- Process air heaters — Air heaters; Attemperators
- Pulverizing machinery — Pulverizers
- Respiration air supplying self contained breathing apparatus or accessories — Self-contained breathing apparatus
- Sampling pumps — Purge pumps
- Screw conveyor — Screw conveyors
- Sight flow windows — Boiler gauge glasses
- Signal converters
- Steam engines — Steam distribution systems; Steam turbines
- Steam generators — Heat recovery steam generators; Steam driven turbogenerators
- Substation load control switchgears — Electrical switch gear
- Switchyard disconnect switches — Switch yard equipment
- Temperature transmitters
- Thermal engines — Geothermal binary turbines
- Touch screen monitors
- Turbine engines — Combustion turbines
- Vacuum pumps
- Venturis — Orifice plates
- Vibration testers — Vibration monitors
- Water filters
- Water pumps
- Water purification equipment — Water treatment equipment
- Water softening accessories — Water softeners
- Water tube boiler — Circulating fluidized bed CFB boilers
- Wet scrubbers — Selective catalytic reactors; Selective non-catalytic reactors
Technology used in this occupation:
- Data base user interface and query software — Microsoft Access
- Electronic mail software — Email software
- Facilities management software — Computerized maintenance management system CMMS software
- Industrial control software — Distributed control systems DCS software; General Electric Mark VI Distributed Control System DCS; Teknik Segala OSI Plant Information PI System; Yokogawa FAST/TOOLS (see all 13 examples)
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
- Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment — Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
Detailed Work Activities
- Operate energy production equipment.
- Operate energy distribution equipment.
- Collect samples of materials or products for testing.
- Record operational or production data.
- Maintain sustainable energy production equipment.
- Monitor equipment operation to ensure proper functioning.
- Watch operating equipment to detect malfunctions.
- Exchange information with colleagues.
- Adjust equipment controls to regulate flow of water, cleaning solutions, or other liquids.
- Operate pumping systems or equipment.
- Clean production equipment.
- Notify others of equipment repair or maintenance needs.
- Test electrical equipment or systems to ensure proper functioning.
- Maintain production or processing equipment.
- Monitor lubrication of equipment or workpieces.
- Lubricate production equipment.
- Repair production equipment or tools.
- Inspect sustainable energy production facilities or equipment.
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 93% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 87% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 77% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 74% responded “Every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 79% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Contact With Others — 64% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 65% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 47% responded “Extremely important.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 49% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 57% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 50% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 46% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Telephone — 55% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to High Places — 54% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 42% responded “Extremely important.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 63% responded “Every day.”
- Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 49% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 54% responded “Every day.”
- Electronic Mail — 53% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 56% responded “More than half the time.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 39% responded “Very important results.”
- Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 51% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 60% responded “40 hours.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 38% responded “Important.”
- Outdoors, Under Cover — 37% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 45% responded “Some freedom.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 32% responded “Very important.”
- Time Pressure — 34% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Spend Time Standing — 55% responded “More than half the time.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 38% responded “Limited responsibility.”
- Degree of Automation — 40% responded “Highly automated.”
- Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 30% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Physical Proximity — 40% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
- Letters and Memos — 30% responded “Never.”
- Spend Time Walking and Running — 42% responded “Less than half the time.”
|Title||Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed|
|Education||These occupations usually require a high school diploma.|
|Related Experience||Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include sheet metal workers, forest fire fighters, customer service representatives, physical therapist aides, salespersons (retail), and tellers.|
|SVP Range||(4.0 to < 6.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|74||High school diploma or equivalent|
Interest code: RC
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2014)||$33.69 hourly, $70,070 annual|
|Employment (2012)||42,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2012-2022)||Decline (-3% or lower)|
|Projected job openings (2012-2022)||12,900|
|Top industries (2012)|
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
- Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.