Power Generation Operators or Plant Technicians
About Power Generation Operators or Plant Technicians Jobs
Power generation operators or plant operators are at the source of the electricity production controlling the machinery that generates electricity. Power generation operators are in charge of the control and monitoring of boilers, turbines, generators, and auxiliary equipment in power-generating plants. In detail, it means that these plant technicians have to distribute power demands among generators, combine the current from several generators, and monitor instruments to maintain voltage and regulate electricity flow from the plant. If the power requirements change, power generation operators have to start or stop generators and connect or disconnect them from circuits.
For the operators working in plants with automated control systems, their work is mostly done in a central control room and they are typically called control room operators or control room operator trainees or assistants. Whereas in older plants, since the control for systems are not automated, switchboard operators have to control the flow of electricity from a central point and equipment operators have to work throughout the plant to operate and monitor the machinery that generates electricity including valves, switches, and gauges.
How does one become a power generation operator? For the students who want a career in this field, it requires a high school diploma but those who have attended college-level courses and had prior experience in a mechanical or technical job will be preferred. As with most entry-level operators, you will start first as helpers or laborers. Candidates must also possess good skills in mathematics, science skills and computer science. Selected candidates will follow an extensive training program before starting their duties as power generation operators. But they will also be given periodic refresher training consisting in simulating procedures and situations that might be encountered at the trainee's plant.
In the U.S., there were about 47,000 power generation operators or plant technicians in 2004. About two thirds of them worked for electric power generation, transmission, and distribution companies, 20% in local government and the balance for manufacturing companies producing electricity for their own use. The job market for plant technicians is very limited and very competitive because of the slow pace of construction of new plants and deregulation of the sector. That's why many potential candidates are looking into opportunities of operators or electrician employment overseas. Overall the employment rate of power generation operators is expected to decline through 2014.
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