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Career and Education Opportunities for Power Plant Operators in Charleston, South Carolina

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for power plant operators in the Charleston, South Carolina area. Currently, 1,350 people work as power plant operators in South Carolina. This is expected to grow by 16% to about 1,570 people by 2016. This is better than the national trend for power plant operators, which sees this job pool shrinking by about 1.6% over the next eight years. Power plant operators generally control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power.

Power plant operators earn about $31 hourly or $65,140 per year on average in South Carolina and about $28 hourly or $58,470 yearly on average nationally. Compared with people working in the overall category of Power Plant, people working as power plant operators in South Carolina earn more. They earn more than people working in the overall category of Power Plant nationally.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Charleston where you can study to be a power plant operator, among fourteen schools of higher education total in the Charleston area. The most common level of education for power plant operators is an Associate's, or other 2-year degree. It will take about two years to learn to be a power plant operator if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Power Plant Operator

Power Plant Operator video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, power plant operators control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. They also includes auxiliary equipment operators.

Power plant operators monitor and inspect power plant equipment and indicators to uncover evidence of operating problems. They also take readings from charts, meters and gauges at established intervals, and take corrective steps as needed. Equally important, power plant operators have to control and maintain auxiliary equipment, such as pumps and chlorinators, to supply water and auxiliary power. They are often called upon to open and close valves and switches in sequence upon signals from other staff, so as to start or shut down auxiliary units. They are expected to record and compile operational data, completing and maintaining forms, logs, and reports. Finally, power plant operators start or stop generators, auxiliary pumping equipment and other power plant equipment, and connect or disconnect equipment from circuits.

Every day, power plant operators are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for power plant operators to operate or control power generating equipment and reactors, using control boards or semi-automatic equipment. They are often called upon to clean and maintain equipment such as generators and compressors so as to avoid equipment failure or deterioration. They also communicate with systems operators to regulate and direct transmission loads and frequencies, and line voltages. They are sometimes expected to collect oil and electrolyte samples for laboratory analysis. Somewhat less frequently, power plant operators are also expected to receive outage calls and call in needed personnel during power outages and emergencies.

Power plant operators sometimes are asked to make adjustments or minor repairs. And finally, they sometimes have to take readings from charts, meters and gauges at established intervals, and take corrective steps as needed.

Like many other jobs, power plant operators must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Charleston include:

  • Gas Plant Operator. Distribute or process gas for utility companies and others by controlling compressors to maintain specified pressures on main pipelines.
  • Petroleum Refinery Worker. Control the operation of petroleum refining or processing units. May specialize in controlling manifold and pumping systems, gauging or testing oil in storage tanks, or regulating the flow of oil into pipelines.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Power Plant Operator Training

Trident Technical College - Charleston, SC

Trident Technical College, 7000 Rivers Avenue, Charleston, SC 29423-8067. Trident Technical College is a large college located in Charleston, South Carolina. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 12,758 students. Trident Technical College has an associate's degree program in Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians, Other Specialties which graduated one student in 2008.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina photo by AudeVivere

Charleston is situated in Charleston County, South Carolina. It has a population of over 111,978, which has grown by 15.9% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Charleston, 94, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Charleston cost $157,600 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, five hundred eight new homes were built in Charleston, down from eight hundred seventy-eight the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Charleston are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is accommodation and food services, construction, and professional, scientific, and technical services. The average commute to work is about 20 minutes. More than 37.5% of Charleston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 13.9%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Charleston is 10.5%, which is less than South Carolina's average of 12.0%.

The percentage of Charleston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 42.7%, is less than both the national and state average. Plymouth Congregational Church, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church are among the churches located in Charleston. The largest religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church.

Charleston is home to the United State Department of Agriculture and the The Center as well as Harmon Field and Stoney Field. Shopping malls in the area include Church Creek Plaza Shopping Center, Citadel Mall Shopping Center and South Windermere Shopping Center. Visitors to Charleston can choose from French Quarter Inn, Fulton Lane Inn and Budget Inn for temporary stays in the area.