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Power generation plant operator

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Summary of occupation

​Power generation plant operators control, maintain and monitor the machines and associated plant equipment used to generate electrical power. This may involve mechanical, electrical or chemical processes. They also compile reports on processes and equipment associated with power generation.

They control the flow of inputs such as water, fuel or chemicals to the operating machinery that generates power in order to increase or decrease power output.

The majority of power generation plant operators in Western Australia work in the Metropolitan, Peel and South West regions.

ANZSCO description: Operates boilers, turbogenerators and associated plant to generate electrical power.
Alternative names:
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

​A power generation plant operator needs:

  • to accurately compile reports and records
  • to have excellent communication skills
  • to pay attention to detail
  • to have good hand-eye coordination
  • to be good at mechanical and/or electrical activities
  • to be able to take responsibility for the operation and safety of the power plant and people within.
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Working conditions

​Power generation plant operators often work shift work, which may include nights and weekends. Operators may be required to sit or stand in control rooms or stations for long periods.

Working with plant equipment and chemicals is potentially hazardous, and strict safety procedures and regulations must be followed to minimise the risk of injury.

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Salary details

​On average, chemical, gas, petroleum and power generation plant operators, can expect to earn at least $2 000 per week ($104 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a power generation plant operator develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

​Power generation plant operators need to be familiar with the range of equipment and machinery used in their particular operation. They operate power switches to control boilers and turbines to increase or decrease power output. They work with computerised equipment systems and control boards. Safety equipment such as hardhats, safety glasses, high visibility clothing and safety boots are also often required.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

​To become a power generation plant operator you may need to complete an Electrical Supply Industry (ESI) Traineeship with a power producer or a contractor to a power producer. The assistant unit controller, unit controller, or systems operator or systems operations technician traineeships usually take 24 to 48 months to complete. These traineeships range from Certificate III to Diploma level.

To work as a power generation plant operator in Western Australia, you may have to obtain a High Risk Work License issued by WorkSafe.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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