Is becoming a power plant operator right for me?
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How to become a Power Plant Operator
Power plant operators need at minimum a high school diploma — some employers may prefer workers with college or vocational school degrees in mathematics or science. Previous related work experience can be helpful. Many employers prefer experience in electricity generation, transmission, and distribution, or in other occupations in the utilities industry, such as a line worker or helper, or laborer in a power plant.
Power plant operators undergo rigorous on-the-job training and technical instruction. Several years of onsite training and experience are necessary to become fully qualified, and even fully qualified workers must take regular training courses to keep their skills current.
Nuclear power reactor operators usually start working as equipment operators or auxiliary operators, helping more experienced workers operate and maintain equipment, while learning the basics of how to operate the power plant. Along with this extensive on-the-job training, nuclear power plant operators typically receive formal technical training to prepare for a license exam. To become licensed, operators must meet training and experience requirements, pass a medical exam, and pass the licensing exam.
To keep their license, nuclear power plant operators must pass a plant-operating exam each year, pass a medical exam every two years, and apply for license renewal every six years. Once licensed, operators are authorized to control equipment that affects the power of the reactor in a nuclear power plant. Operators continue frequent onsite training. Licenses cannot be transferred between plants, so an operator must get a new license to operate in another facility. Some nuclear power reactor operators gain experience working with nuclear reactors in the armed services.