Hydro Plant Operator

Jessica Lowe watched her brother get into the trades and wondered if she could do it too.

The answer was: oh yes, she could.

Jessica earned an engineering technology diploma and the program really taught her to get in there and not be afraid to go for it. That’s a lesson that’s really helped her in her career. She’s quickly progressed from an apprentice to a journeyperson Hydro Plant Operator. She’s enjoying working with her hands, being part of a team, and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of every workday. 

Do you like the sound of a workday that includes:

  • Figuring out how equipment works
  • Working in the field, rather than at a desk
  • Problem solving
  • Seeing the results of your work
  • Working as part of a team
  • Working with computers

Well that goes hand-in-hand with a career as a Hydro Plant Operator.

What does a Hydro Plant Operator do?

As you probably guessed from the name, Hydro Plant Operators operate hydro generating plants. That means they operate water control structures (dams, for example) to control the volume of power generation, making sure it meets the demand for power. They inspect the equipment and facilities, report any issues, and perform maintenance.

Hydro Plant Operators can spend a lot of time in the plant’s control centre monitoring its performance, but they also work in the plant performing preventative maintenance on plant and support equipment.

What training do I need to become a Hydro Plant Operator?

  • Graduation from high school
  • Completion of a three year electrical or electronics engineering technology program or a Journeyperson Industrial Electrician’s certificate
  • Completion of apprenticeship or a 2–3 year training program offered by the employer leading to a provincial Journeyperson Power Systems Operator certificate.

Where would I work?

In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are many hydro generation plants. Typically large hydro generation plants are owned and operated by the electric utilities. There are some smaller hydro generation plants owned by other companies that either use the power output for their own needs or sell it to the utilities.

Where can this career lead me?

After you complete an apprenticeship with a company, you earn a Journeyperson Power System Operator certificate. From there you can continue on your career path as a Power System Operator, or become a Hydro Plant Operator. As you gain experience as a Hydro Plant Operator, you can grow into Lead and Senior Hydro Plant Operator roles, and eventually Supervisor/Superintendent positions.