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Careers in Mechanical Engineering - Power Plant Operator

written by: Ricky • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 9/15/2008

A typical power plant, be it of any type namely nuclear, thermal, hydro – all require specialized staff and operators in order to carry out several functions effectively. Read here about the job of a power plant operator

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    A power plant setup consists of various kinds of machineries and auxiliary equipment which are utilized for the production of electricity from some source of energy. Regardless of the type of power plant there are certain machineries which are common such as turbines, electrical equipment such as transformer and so forth. The other types of machineries vary with the nature of the power plant whether it is nuclear, thermal or some other type. These diverse machineries certainly need learned and experienced personnel to operate them and this is where the requirement of a power plant operator arises.

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    Who is an Operator?

    A power plant operator is a broad term which covers all types of personnel which are involved in the operation of a typical power plant and its various machineries which are electrical, hydraulic, nuclear etc. Hence you can see that it does not refer to a particular post or activity but to a wide spectrum of activities and nature of operations which are required within the power plant. It must be noted that though there is no strict definition of a power plant operator, broadly speaking it encompasses jobs which are of an overseeing nature and involve checking of various machineries rather than repairing them. Of course minor repair work could be a part of the operator’s job depending on the particular situation but major maintenance is mostly not included in their job, which require technicians and engineers trained specifically for the job.

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    What does an Operator do?

    You must have got a broad idea about the job profile by reading the previous section about the operator. Given below are some of the jobs which might be carried out by a typical power plant operator.

    • Monitor the power plant usually from a central location such as a control room by keeping an eye on important parameters such as temperature, pressure, voltage and so on.

    • Starting and stopping of various machineries as and when required

    • Handling emergency situations and calling for specialized help if necessary

    • Taking care of minor maintenance work

    The above list is certainly not exhaustive but sufficient to give an idea to the reader about the job profile of a power plant operator.

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    Certification & Training

    Certainly the job profile discussed above is quite specialized in nature and hence proper training and certification must be provided to the operators in order to ensure a safe working environment for the plant. The exact training depends on the type of plant, for example an operator working in a nuclear power plant might need to know more about nuclear aspect than an operator of a thermal power plant. Various countries have different certifications and training requirements for a person willing to work as a power plant operator. Here is a link which will tell you about the requirements for a power plant operator in Australia, the job requirements and other useful information. Similar links can be searched by anyone interested to know the details of requirements in other locations

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    A Power Plant Operator

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