Get Into Energy Career Pathways Roadmap: Industry

» Non-Nuclear Generation Power Plant Operators: Putting Stem to Work

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Pass Pre-Employment Tests and Become a
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Educational Opportunities for Advancement
Assistant Operator
2 Years
  • Associate's Degree
  • Long-Term On-the-Job Training
3-6 Years
Operations Specialist
  • Long-Term On-the-Job Training
  • Experience in Position
6-8 Years
Operations Supervisor
8+ Years
NON-NUCLEAR GENERATION POWER PLANT OPERATOR: What will you do? What competencies will you need? (built on energy foundational competencies—incremental as career advances)
Note: Most utilities use a pre-employment test—to pass you will need math, communications, problem solving, and mechanical reasoning skills.

Starting Off as an Entry-Level Helper:

  • Provide assistance to plant operators by reading gauges and checking equipment
  • Make work area safe
  • Teamwork
  • Able to lift 75 lbs
  • Listen and follow directions
  • Be comfortable with heights
  • Be able to work in noisy conditions
  • Math skills including algebra, trig, and geometry
  • Come to work on time and prepared

Assistant Operator:

  • Auxiliary equipment operations and maintenance
  • Check gauges and levels
  • Alternating Current / Direct Current
  • Valves
  • Pumps
  • Engines/turbines
  • Plant processes and systems (water, electric, etc.)
  • Physical ability to climb stairs and ladders, operate stiff valves manually, lift weights, control pneumatic or hydraulic wrenches
  • Apply knowledge obtained during training in the work environment


  • Ensure generating equipment runs when needed
  • Prepare reports of unusual incidents or problems
  • Use information to diagnose and solve problems
  • Be able to manage multiple tasks at one time
  • Understand and apply basic mechanical principles (e.g., gear trains, centrifugal force, heat flow)
  • Ability to comprehend entire systems and how they function
  • Ability to foresee system implications of malfunctions or of own actions
  • Ability to anticipate required future conditions in numerous interacting systems

Operations Supervisor:

  • Determine schedules and work activities of team members
  • Review team member performance and provide feedback
  • Inspect records and log book entries to determine plant efficiency
  • Prepare and manage budgets
  • Report to management
  • Deal with potentially stressful situations
  • People management
  • Communications skills
  • Financial management
  • Computer skills for report preparation
  • Assign priority or sequence to the steps for completing a job
  • Coordinate several competing activities for efficient use of time and material
  • Adapt work procedures or priorities in response to changing or unforeseen requirements or conditions

Energy Industry Competency Model

competency model

Energy industry careers offer:
  • Excellent salaries
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Job growth & stability
  • Community service
  • Great benefits

Where can I find training?
Use the Get Into Energy Training Program Locator at

Where can I find a job?
Use the Get Into Energy Jobs website at