Career Attributes

  • $75,533
  • 36,100
  • 3.0
  • 1.1%
  • High school diploma
  • Nuclear Engineering
More Attributes

Overview

Power plant operators undergo rigorous, long-term on-the-job training and technical instruction. Several years of onsite training and experience are necessary to become fully qualified. 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 the 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, 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.

Power plant operators who do not work at a nuclear power reactor may be licensed as engineers or firefighters by licensing boards. Requirements vary by jurisdiction and depend on the specific job functions that the operator performs.

Power plant operators need at least a high school diploma. However, employers may prefer workers with college or vocational school degrees. Employers generally look for people with strong math and science backgrounds for these highly technical jobs. Understanding electricity and math, especially algebra and trigonometry, is important. 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 labourer in a power plant.

Some nuclear power reactor operators gain experience working with nuclear reactors in the armed services.

What are Power Plant Operators like?

Investigative

Based on our pool of users, Power Plant Operators tend to be predominately investigative people. Take our career test to see what career interest category best describes you.

Power Plant Operators by Strongest Interest Archetype

Based on sample of 83 CareerExplorer users

Are Power Plant Operators happy?

27thpercentile

Power Plant Operators rank among the least happy careers. Overall they rank in the 27th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores.

Power Plant Operator Career Satisfaction by Dimension

Percentile among all careers

Education History of Power Plant Operators

The most common degree held by Power Plant Operators is Business Management And Administration. 20% of Power Plant Operators had a degree in Business Management And Administration before becoming Power Plant Operators. That is over 3 times the average across all careers. Nuclear Engineering graduates are the second most common among Power Plant Operators, representing 20% of Power Plant Operators in the CareerExplorer user base, which is 404.0 times the average.

Power Plant Operator Education History

This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Power Plant Operator, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.

Degree % of Power Plant Operators % of population Multiple
Business Management And Administration 20.0% 6.5% 3.1×
Nuclear Engineering 20.0% 0.0% 404.0×

Power Plant Operator Education Levels

74% of Power Plant Operators have a high school diploma. 26% of Power Plant Operators have an associate's degree.

No education 0%
High school diploma 74%
Associate's degree 26%
Bachelor's degree 0%
Master's degree 0%
Doctorate degree 0%

How to Become a Power Plant Operator

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Career Attributes

  • $75,533
  • 36,100
  • 3.0
  • 1.1%
  • High school diploma
  • Nuclear Engineering
More Attributes