How To Become A Power Plant Operator or Power Distributor and Dispatcher

A Power Plant Operator or Power Distributor and Dispatcher keeps the world moving by providing electrical power. So, how important is electricity to you, your family, or your business? The individuals working in this field are vital to our everyday existence… or, at the very least, our comfort!

If you are interested in the electrical field and are somewhat mechanically-minded, perhaps a career in a power plant is for you. Here, we discuss the important facts you need… so you can be in the know! Check it out!  

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Table of Contents


What does a Power Plant Operator or Power Distributor and Dispatcher do?

As Power Plant Operators, Distributors and Dispatchers are trained to provide us with electrical power, they have many responsibilities, such as:

  • Do regular checks of equipment and repair accordingly,
  • Oversee power-generating sources, such as gas, coal, hydroelectricity, wind, solar, or nuclear power, 
  • Regulate the flow of power, or stop turbines or generators if needed,
  • Control the power going to electrical substations.

What types of Power Plant Operators are there?

Within the field of Power Plant personnel, there are several career options to consider, such as: 

  • Power Plant Control Room Operators
  • Nuclear Power Reactor Operators
  • Nuclear Station Operators
  • Power Distributors & Dispatchers
  • Hydroelectric Plant Operators
  • And, many more!

How do I become a Power Plant Operator?

Generally, all one needs is a high school (or equivalent) diploma and on-the-job training, although some employers prefer that their applicants have a vocational school certificate or degree. 

What skills will I need to become a Power Plant Operator?

One of the key skills needed in this field includes mathematics. So, if math skills are not your strong suit, you may want to pursue another option. In addition, a science background will come in handy.

Other skills are just as important, too. You will need to be an excellent communicator, a great problem-solver, and detail-oriented. How are your concentration skills? Or, dexterity for repetitive work? Are you good with machinery and power tools? If you are good at all of these qualities, becoming a Power Plant Operator is for you!   

Will I need to be licensed to excel in a career as a Power Plant Operator?

In most cases, Nuclear Power Reactor Operators are required to have a license; however, you may begin your career without it. In fact, you will need to meet the on-the-job training requirements to qualify for taking the exam administered by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Licenses must be renewed regularly according to your state’s requirements. 

Depending on your employment description, you may be required to be a licensed engineer or a firefighter. This will also depend on your state’s requirements. 

Medical exams and routine drug testing are also the norms in this career.

Where do Power Plant Operators find jobs?

Local utility companies employ most Power Plant Operators. Government-related jobs are also available. But, get ready to work rotating shifts… because, after all… electrical power requires 24/7 attention! 

How much do Power Plant Operators, Distributors and Dispatchers earn per year?

In these positions, the BLS states that the average salary, as of May 2020, was $89,090 annually, which translates to $42.83 per hour. The upper 10% earned $121,490 per year.

What are the differences between a Power Plant Operator and a Power Distributor/Dispatcher?

So, the various job titles in this field sound like the same position, right? Yes, but they do have different job descriptions and responsibilities. 

A Power Plant Operator operates the machinery that produces the electricity. They also monitor them for safety and to make sure they are operating efficiently. 

Power Distributors/Dispatchers, also known as Systems Operators, oversee the flow of electricity to substations and then to consumers. They control the current, voltage, and circuit breakers across the grid. They also monitor weather conditions and handle power outage emergencies, plus much more.