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Career and Education Opportunities for Power Plant Operators in Seattle, Washington

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for power plant operators in the Seattle, Washington area. About 380 people are currently employed as power plant operators in Washington. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 5% to 400 people employed. 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 approximately $33 hourly or $69,310 yearly on average in Washington. Nationally they average about $28 hourly or $58,470 annually. Earnings for power plant operators are better than earnings in the general category of Power Plant in Washington and better than general Power Plant category earnings nationally.

The Seattle area is home to sixty-five schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Seattle where you can get a degree as a power plant operator. Power plant operators usually hold an Associate's, or other 2-year degree, so 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 Seattle 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

Bates Technical College - Tacoma, WA

Bates Technical College, 1101 S Yakima Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405. Bates Technical College is a medium sized college located in Tacoma, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,807 students. Bates Technical College has a less than one year program in Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians, Other Specialties which graduated fifty-six students in 2008.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington photo by Dschwen

Seattle is located in King County, Washington. It has a population of over 598,541, which has grown by 6.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Seattle, 126, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Seattle are valued at $206,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred ninety-five new homes were built in Seattle, down from seven hundred seventy-five the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Seattle are health care, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 25 minutes. More than 47.2% of Seattle residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 17.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Seattle is 7.8%, which is less than Washington's average of 8.7%.

The percentage of Seattle residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Seattle is home to the Berth 5 and the Akli Point Lighthouse as well as Lincoln Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. Shopping centers in the area include Lake City Shopping Center, Westwood Village Shopping Center and Oak Tree Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Seattle can choose from A-1 Motel, Arlington Suites and Marriott Sea-Tac Airport for temporary stays in the area.