Job Family: Mechanic and Repair Technologists and Technicians Power Plant Operators
Services Offering this Occupation
 | Navy  | Air Force  | Marine Corps  | Coast Guard

Supplemental Information
Profile  | 
Photo 1: Power plant operator looks over generator. Photo 2:
Power plant operator checks system components.

Adam Snyder
Occupation: Power Plant Operator

My role as a Power Plant Operator in the Navy has also given me a sense of purpose in life. After high school, I spent some time at Western Michiga…

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Short Description
Power plants generate electricity for ships, submarines, and military bases. The military uses many different types of power plants. Many ships and submarines have nuclear power plants. Power plant operators control power generating plants on land and aboard ships and submarines. They operate boilers, turbines, nuclear reactors, and portable generators.


What They Do
Power plant operators in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Monitor and operate control boards to regulate power plants
  • Operate and maintain diesel generating units
  • Monitor and control nuclear reactors that produce electricity and power ships and submarines
  • Operate and maintain stationary engines, such as steam engines, air compressors, and generators
  • Operate and maintain auxiliary equipment
  • Inspect equipment for malfunctions
  • Operate the steam turbines that generate power for ships

Helpful Attributes
Helpful school subjects include math and shop mechanics. Helpful attributes include:
  • Interest in nuclear power
  • Interest in working with large machinery

Training Provided
Job training consists of classroom instruction, including practice in operating power plants. Nuclear specialties have training programs that last 1 year or more, covering all aspects of nuclear power plant operations. Course content typically includes:
  • Operation of pressure boilers
  • Operation and maintenance of reactor control systems
  • Operation and maintenance of mechanical systems on nuclear powered ships and submarines

Work Environment
Power plant operators usually work indoors. They are subject to high temperatures and noise.


Civilian Counterparts
Civilian power plant operators work for power companies, factories, schools, and hospitals. They perform duties similar to military power plant operators. Depending on the specialty, they may also be called boiler operators, stationary engineers, nuclear reactor operators, or diesel plant operators.

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