Mining, Energy & Utilities
Power Generation Plant Operator
Power generation plant operators operate and maintain machinery and instruments used to generating electric power.
Apprenticeship or traineeship
What does a Power Generation Plant Operator do?
Power generation plant operators operate and maintain machinery and instruments used in the electricity supply industry for generating electric power.
As a power generation plant operator, you would:
- operate power plant machinery or run equipment remotely from a control room
- operate control instruments to switch off lines or equipment and to connect alternative circuits
- control the flow of water in hydroelectric power stations and ensure that the machinery is working correctly
- check instruments and switchboards to make sure that all systems are working efficiently
- diagnose faults and perform basic repairs in mechanical, electrical and process control equipment
- shut down or start up boilers or turbines to decrease or increase power output
- help to isolate or shut down a system in an emergency
- strictly follow health and safety procedures at all times.
Key skills and interests
To become a power generation plant worker, you would need:
- a logical and thorough approach to work
- the ability to follow procedures and committed to safe work practices
- to be good at practical mechanical and/or electrical work
- a mature and responsible approach to your work
- good decision making ability.
Working hours and conditions
As a power generation plant operator, you would usually work a standard number of hours per week, which would include shiftwork.
Power generation plant operators work in control rooms, operating a computer controlled console, as well as in the power plant.
How to become an Power Generation Plant Operator?
Entry Level Education
To become a power generation plant operator you usually have to complete an apprenticeship or traineeship in ESI Generation (Operations) or ESI Generation (Systems Operations). Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require junior secondary school certificate or equivalent.
People with qualifications as electricians or in mechanical engineering trades would likely be able to transition easily to this role.
Depending on the method of power generation, industry standards may require power generation plant operators to hold a licence to Perform High Risk Work. To gain a licence, you would need to register with an approved Registered Training Organisation and work under the supervision of a licensed operator. You would need to keep an approved logbook to record competencies achieved during training. Assessment by an independent assessor would then be required. To obtain a licence, you would also need to be at least 18 years of age.
Employment of power generation plant operators is projected to decline over the next five to ten years. Electricity usage is expected to grow more slowly because of advances in technology, increased energy efficiency and residential solar power installations. These developments will in turn dampen employment growth for this occupation.
Newer or upgraded electricity generation plants will have modernised control rooms that are more automated, so operators will be able to work more effectively, therefore limiting the number of new job opportunities.