Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers typically need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. However, employers may prefer workers who have a college or vocational school degree.
Training Required
Power plant operators and dispatchers undergo rigorous, long-term on-the-job training and technical instruction. Several years of onsite training and experience are necessary for a worker to become fully qualified. Even fully qualified operators and dispatchers must take regular training courses to keep their skills up to date.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: -1% (Little or no change)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Advancement
With sufficient education, training and experience, power plant distributors and dispatchers can become shift supervisors, trainers, or consultants.
Licenses/Certifications
Nuclear power reactor operators must be licensed through the NRC. They typically begin working in nuclear power plants as unlicensed operators, where they gain the required knowledge and experience to start the licensing process. To become licensed, operators must meet training and experience requirements, pass a medical exam, and pass the NRC licensing exam. To keep their license, operators must pass a plant-operating exam each year, pass a medical exam every 2 years, and apply for renewal of their license every 6 years. Licenses cannot be transferred between plants, so an operator must get a new license to work in another facility.
Median pay: How much do Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers make?
$78,370 Annual Salary
$37.68 per hour

Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control the systems that generate and distribute electric power.

Duties

Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers typically do the following:

  • Control power-generating equipment, which may use any one type of fuel, such as coal, nuclear power, or natural gas
  • Read charts, meters, and gauges to monitor voltage and electricity flows
  • Check equipment and indicators to detect evidence of operating problems
  • Adjust controls to regulate the flow of power
  • Start or stop generators, turbines, and other equipment as necessary

Electricity is one of our nation’s most vital resources. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control power plants and the flow of electricity from plants to substations, which distribute electricity to businesses, homes, and factories. Electricity is generated from many sources, including coal, gas, nuclear energy, hydroelectric energy (from water sources), wind, and solar power.

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