Power Engineers and Power Systems Operators

(NOC 9241)

in All Manufacturing and Utilities

Power engineers, also known as stationary engineers, supervise, operate, and maintain machinery and boilers. These machines provide steam, power, heat, refrigeration, and other utility services to industrial and commercial facilities. Power systems operators monitor and use computerized switchboards and related equipment in electrical control centres to control the distribution of electrical power in transmission networks. They work for power generation plants, electrical power utilities, manufacturing plants, hospitals, universities, and government and commercial organizations.

Job Outlook

average

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  • Estimate Weak growth employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 85 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate Moderate rate of unemployment in 2022

Compared to: All Manufacturing and Utilities

  • Estimate 435 employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 1945 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Size of the occupation in Nova Scotia: medium, with occasional job opportunities.
Demand: Approximately 45 opportunities are estimated for Halifax, and 60 outside Halifax. Employment growth will lead to a few new positions. High employee turnover in this occupation could lead to employment opportunities. There are a moderate number of unemployed workers with recent experience in this occupation. Several positions will become available due to retirements.
Work hours: full-time, usually. Jobs are typically permanent positions.

Hourly Pay

$24.62

Minimum

$33.39

Median

$46.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$21,277

Minimum

$68,260

Median

$118,760

Maximum

Compared to: All Manufacturing and Utilities

Hourly Pay

$14.00

Minimum

$20.80

Median

$33.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$6,056

Minimum

$30,111

Median

$70,518

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Power engineers, also known as stationary engineers, supervise, operate, and maintain machinery and boilers. These machines provide steam, power, heat, refrigeration, and other utility services to industrial and commercial facilities. Power systems operators monitor and use computerized switchboards and related equipment in electrical control centres to control the distribution of electrical power in transmission networks. They work for power generation plants, electrical power utilities, manufacturing plants, hospitals, universities, and government and commercial organizations.

Job duties

Power engineers:

  • Run automated or computerized control systems, stationary engines and auxiliary equipment like reactors, boilers, turbines, generators, pumps, compressors, pollution control devices and other equipment to generate electrical power and to provide light, heat, ventilation and refrigeration for buildings, industrial plants and other work sites.
  • Start up and shut down power plant equipment, control switching operations, regulate water levels and communicate with systems operators to regulate and coordinate transmission loads, frequency and line voltages.
  • Monitor and inspect plant equipment, computer terminals, switches, valves, gauges, alarms, meters and other instruments to measure temperature, pressure and fuel flow, to detect leaks or other equipment malfunctions and to ensure plant equipment is operating at maximum efficiency.
  • Analyze and record instrument readings and equipment malfunctions.
  • Troubleshoot and carry out corrective action and minor repairs to prevent equipment or system failure.
  • Clean and lubricate generators, turbines, pumps and compressors and do other routine equipment maintenance duties using appropriate lubricants and hand, power and precision tools.
  • Maintain a daily log of operation, maintenance and safety activities, and write reports on plant operation.
  • May help in the development of operation, maintenance and safety procedures.

Power systems operators:

  • Use and monitor computerized switchboards and auxiliary equipment in electrical control centres to control the distribution and to regulate the flow of electrical power in the transmission network.
  • Coordinate, schedule and direct generating station and substation power loads and line voltages to meet distribution demands during daily operations, system outages, repairs and importing or exporting of power.
  • Monitor and inspect station instruments, meters and alarms to ensure transmission voltages and line loadings are within prescribed limits and to detect equipment failure, line disturbances and outages.
  • Issue work and test permits to electrical and mechanical maintenance personnel, assist maintenance and technical personnel to locate and isolate system problems, and assist during routine system testing.
  • Complete and maintain station records, logs and reports.

Sample job titles

  • auxiliary plant operator
  • plant maintenance stationary engineer
  • power engineer
  • power station operator - electrical power systems
  • power system operator
  • refrigeration plant operator
  • stationary engineer
  • stationary power engineer

Skills

  • Mechanical and electrical aptitude
  • Good vision, hearing, and hand-eye coordination
  • Manual dexterity
  • Communication skills in person and in writing
  • Organizational and decision-making skills
  • The ability to read and interpret blueprints and other plant drawings
  • The ability to work safely and efficiently
  • The ability to work with others in a team environment
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to follow instructions and work with minimal supervision

Job requirements

  • High school or equivalent (usually).
  • Power systems operators need to complete over three years of work experience in the trade and some college or industry courses in electrical and electronic technology.
  • Power engineers need a college training program in stationary or power engineering and several years of work experience in the field or the completion of an apprenticeship program for 4th, 3rd, or 2nd power engineers.
  • Trade Qualifier option, see Trade Regulations for Power Engineers.
  • Power engineer trade certification according to class (4th, 3rd, 2nd or 1st class) is compulsory in Nova Scotia.
  • To work in the Power Engineer trade, an individual requires a license or permit under the regulatory authority in Nova Scotia, the Technical Safety Division.

Other considerations

  • Working conditions vary in this occupation. In entry-level positions, power engineers may be exposed to high noise levels, temperatures, and humidity. They may encounter all types of outdoor weather conditions, as well as dust, grease, hazardous chemicals, or unpleasant odours.
  • In large plants, power engineers may have to enter confined spaces or inspect equipment located at extreme heights. Power engineers with more advanced training and experience often work in climate-controlled spaces or in offices.
  • Power engineers may need to lift heavy items, climb ladders, staircases, and scaffolds, and worm at heights.
  • Power engineers often work shifts, weekends, holidays, and emergency overtime to accommodate continuous production.
  • Job growth is affected by industry converting to technologies that do not require power engineers.
  • Advancement from lower to higher classes for power engineers is dependent on further training and experience. Advancement to senior positions is possible with experience.

By the numbers

Quick look

1,150

employed in 2016

92.1%

employed full-time

1.3%

self employed

2.6%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
97.4%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
50.4

median age

Compared to: All Manufacturing and Utilities

15,275

employed in 2016

83.2%

employed full-time

3.2%

self employed

27.6%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
72.4%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
44.7

median age

Where will I likely work?

34.1%

Halifax

$68,248 median annual income
23.1%

Cape Breton

$68,170 median annual income
22.3%

North Shore

$77,793 median annual income
10.9%

Annapolis Valley

$59,192 median annual income
9.6%

Southern

$64,519 median annual income

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

28.5%

Utilities

19.0%

Manufacturing

14.5%

Health care and social assistance

13.0%

Public administration

4.5%

Wholesale trade

What is the age of Employment?

29.0%

55-64

23.0%

45-54

20.0%

35-44

15.0%

25-34

7.0%

15-24

6.0%

65+

Compared to: All Manufacturing and Utilities

24.5%

45-54

20.8%

55-64

19.3%

35-44

16.5%

25-34

15.0%

15-24

Top levels of education

47.2%

College Diploma

$69,745 median annual income
31.4%

Trade Certification

$71,104 median annual income
7.4%

Bachelor

$71,620 median annual income
7.0%

High school

$48,806 median annual income
3.1%

Diploma Below Bachelor

$80,833 median annual income

Compared to: All Manufacturing and Utilities

38.1%

High school

$28,505 median annual income
23.3%

Less than high school

$19,224 median annual income
19.9%

College Diploma

$38,781 median annual income
12.2%

Trade Certification

$43,975 median annual income
4.5%

Bachelor

$39,715 median annual income

Education & training

Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering Technology/Technician

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to apply basic engineering principles and technical skills in support of electrical, electronics and communication engineers. They include courses in electrical circuitry, prototype development and testing; systems analysis and testing, systems maintenance, instrument calibration, and report preparation.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering

University Program

These programs prepare students to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of electrical, electronic and related communications systems and their components, including electrical power generation systems, and the analysis of problems such as superconductor, wave propagation, energy storage and retrieval, and reception and amplification.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

High School Diploma or Equivalent

High School Program

Adults without a high school diploma can contact the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) for tuition-free programming across the province. NSSAL oversees adult education programs in Nova Scotia. NSSAL partners with the Nova Scotia Community College, Adult High Schools, Université Sainte-Anne, and community-based learning organizations to deliver programs. NSSAL offers clear, accessible pathways from adult basic education to a high school credential or GED.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Adult High Schools

Various, NS

Community Learning Organizations

Various, NS

Stationary Energy Sources Installer and Operator (Canada)

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to apply technical knowledge and skills to install, repair, operate, and maintain large power sources that could include generating electricity and heat.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency

Halifax, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Power Engineer

Compulsory Certification (Mandatory): This is a regulated designated trade in Nova Scotia. Individuals must hold a Certification of Qualification, be a registered apprentice, or hold a temporary work permit to legally work in this trade.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, Technical Safety Division
Halifax, NS

Contacts

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Canada
Various, NS
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, Occupational Health and Safety Division
Halifax, NS

Additional resources