Plant Operator

Plant Operators have the very important job of making sure customers have enough electricity or gas to meet their daily needs. If you like helping others, being a plant operator may be the job for you! Overall, you would be in charge of operating and controlling the machines that generate power in coal, natural gas, nuclear, and other power plants.

Veterans Fact Sheet: Plant Operators

Skills required for Plant Operators:

  • Monitor and inspect power plant equipment and indicators to detect evidence of operating problems.  
  • Adjust controls to generate specified electrical power, or to regulate the flow of power between generating stations and substations.
  • Operate or control power generating equipment, including boilers, turbines, generators, and reactors, using control boards or semi-automatic equipment.  
  • Regulate equipment operations and conditions such as water levels, based on data from recording and indicating instruments or from computers.  
  • Take readings from charts, meters, and gauges at established intervals, and take corrective steps as necessary.

Plant Operators also need to:

  • Be curious about how things work.
  • Solve problems, and not be afraid to ask questions.
  • Concentrate for a long period of time without being distracted.
  • Be on your feet for long periods of time.
  • Work under noisy conditions (hearing protection provided).

Post-High School Education and Training

A two-year degree is optional. On-the-job training is required for this profession. To view a list of available degree and training programs in your area, use the Get Into Energy NEEN Program Locator.

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Average Annual Plant Operator Salary: $79,860

From O*NET. Will vary depending on geographic location.

What’s the future?

Plant operators of the future will be at the helm of tomorrow’s cutting edge power plants generating the energy for millions of homes and businesses. From next generation nuclear power plants to clean coal technologies that significantly cut emissions, to the latest natural gas and renewable energy sources, new technologies will mean new skills for the operators who generate the power we depend on every day.