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How to Become a Power Plant Operator

Oct 19, 2022 ·

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Behind every phone charge, laptop startup, TV channel change and microwave meal is the power of electricity. True to their name, power plants are the facilities where electric power is generated from various energy sources, including coal, solar, wind, natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear energy.

Power plant operators are the ones who keep everything running. They manage these facilities to ensure electric power grids operate correctly.

They’re in charge of the essential equipment that ensures electricity is delivered to homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. They help keep public transportation, like light rail, working. They ensure power flows to manufacturers and factories. If there’s a problem or a potential issue looming, they work on eliminating it.

We all rely on electricity to perform so many routine tasks in our daily lives. That energy depends on the essential work of power plant operators.

If you’ve ever wondered how these professionals enter the industry, or how hard is it to become a power plant operator, learn the steps to get there and what the job entails below.

What Is a Power Plant Operator?

Exactly what does a power plant operator do? Power plant operators work in power plants, where electricity is generated and then delivered to substations that distribute it to other places, like homes and businesses.

A typical day on the job as a power plant operator might include duties like:

  • Managing and maintaining power-generating equipment
  • Looking for operating problems and fixing them
  • Monitoring voltage and regulating the flow of power to ensure fluctuating electricity demand is met and controlled
  • Using control boards to synchronize power among generators

Power plant operators may specialize in certain types of energy or industries, such as nuclear power reactor operation. Sometimes, power plant operators manage or work with specialists, such as power dispatchers and distributors who control the flow of electricity.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 71% of power plant operator employers in 2021 were utilities companies. Other power plant operator employers include government organizations and other businesses. Power plant operator salary can vary widely depending on title, geographic location, industry and other factors.

Steps to Become a Power Plant Operator

Power plant operation is a technology-heavy field. Professionals in the industry must follow important procedures and techniques to maintain a safe environment.

Because of job aspects like these, the BLS reports power plant operation employers typically prefer workers who have educational training, such as power plant technician education. Depending on the equipment, such as nuclear power reactors, those interested in a power plant operator career may need to get a license.

In addition to training and hands-on experience, power plant operator employers may look for skills such as:

  • Understanding of mechanical, electrical and fluid power concepts
  • Organization, concentration and time management skills
  • Mathematical and spatial abilities
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to thrive under pressure

Power plant operators get to work on some of the world’s most important machinery and are responsible for delivering energy that keeps people safe. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, a career in the industry might be one you enjoy.

Power Plant Operator Career Potential

While many power plant operators spend most of their time working with complex machinery, there are also different career paths in power plant operation management. Some power plant operators grow their careers into senior positions, where they supervise others, train new employees or work as consultants for a variety of organizations.

How hard is it to be a power plant operator? That depends on the unique job duties of the position and whether they match your interests and skill set. With help from Career Services, you can find job opportunities in the industries and locations you’re interested in.1

Learn About Power Plant Operator Training

If you’re interested in an exciting and important career as a power plant operator, our program can help prepare you for entry-level careers in the field. The Industrial Maintenance Technician training program, which is coming to UTI,  can prepare you to pursue a role as a power plant operator. This program takes less than a year to complete and covers topics like electricity, heating and cooling systems, and boiler operations.

If you’d like to learn more, reach out today. We’ll contact you with information on start dates, housing assistance, financial aid and more.10

Campuses That Offer Industrial Maintenance Training

UTI and MIAT offer industrial maintenance training at the following campuses:

Enroll anytime. Practice your skills in state-of-the-industry labs. Graduate in less than 2 years.
Learn from the best. Our passionate, experienced instructors are invested in your career success.
Get help finding jobs. Career Services connects you with relevant opportunities.
Request More Info Or Call Now 800.834.7308

1) UTI and MIAT are educational institutions and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit for UTI and for MIAT.

10) Financial aid, scholarships and grants are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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