What is a Powerhouse and Substation Technician?
There are many specialized roles for electricians. Qualified electrical workers are needed in a lot of different industries, including power generation. Power plants that supply electricity to residences and commercial buildings rely on electricians to install, maintain and repair the systems used in these operations. This career requires knowledge and skills that go beyond those of residential electricians.
Duties of a Powerhouse and Substation Technician
Powerhouse and substation technicians or electricians play an important role in making sure power is generated safely and relayed from power stations and substations. There are three different areas in which these electricians may work:
- The powerhouse. Thisis the actual power plant or station that generates AC electricity. Large amounts of voltage are carried from here to the substations.
- Substations. High voltage electricity enters substations from the powerhouse. The role of the substation is to step it down to lower voltages so it can be safely transmitted to homes and buildings.
- Relays. The relays are what step voltage up and down between the powerhouse, substation and buildings receiving electricity. They are complex pieces of electrical equipment that require maintenance and careful operation.
The technicians and electricians who work in powerhouses and substations and with relays install new equipment, make upgrades and troubleshoot to fix problems. They operate complicated machinery and electrical components, making sure it works safely. They also diagnose issues and make repairs when buildings experience power outages.
Where these types of electricians and technicians work is very specific. You can expect to be hired by power companies and to work in power stations or substations. The work is physically demanding at times. You may need to climb to heights to maintain or test equipment, for instance, and standing all day is typical. There are also risks in this job, most notably the risk of being electrocuted. Following safety procedures and using the appropriate gear is essential for lowering that risk.
Training and Education
The requirements for working in this field vary depending on location. In some areas, you may need to become a licensed electrician before training in powerhouses and substations as a specialty. In other places, you may be able to get an apprenticeship to learn to be a technician without any prior experience.
There are a few good places to start if you’re interested in a career as a powerhouse or substation electrician or technician. Look for a post-secondary program in electrical technology or a related field to get background knowledge in electrical work and any classroom requirements you may need to fulfill. On-the-job training is also important, so seek out an apprenticeship program or position in a substation or powerhouse.
Salary and Job Outlook
While the sources of power generation may shift and change, the need for electricity will not go away anytime soon. Powerhouses and power companies will continue to need qualified technicians and electricians. All electrician careers are growing right now at a rate of nine percent, so you can expect to be able to find work pretty easily.
While electricians in general earn $54,110 per year on average, the salary for a powerhouse electrician is usually more because of the specific skills needed for the job. The annual average earnings of this specialized type of electrician are closer to $77,000. To get into this lucrative career, start looking for an apprenticeship or a college program to get your foot in the door.