Hydroelectric Plant Technicians


Employment Prospects


Approximately 140,000 people are employed in the U.S. hydropower industry, according to the National Hydropower Association (NHA). Hydroelectric plant technicians work in hydropower plants that are located throughout the United States. Large hydropower projects are run by the federal electric utilities and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation (https://www.usbr.gov) and the Army Corps of Engineers (https://www.usace.army.mil/About/Centers-of-Expertise), and nonfederal hydropower dams are licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Institute for Energy Research reports that the states with the largest hydroelectric generation are Washington, California, New York, Oregon, and Alabama.

Starting Out

Hydroelectric plant technicians often get their start through an apprenticeship or work-study program while they are in school. Ask your school's career services office for help with finding apprenticeship and entry-level job listings. Professional associations such as the National Hydropower Association also provide career-support resources and opportunities to help aspiring technicians learn about employment openings in hydropower plants. Check the job board at https://www.hydro.org/job-board. Technicians also find jobs by contacting hydroelectric power plants directly and by searching job listings on employment Web sites such as Recruiter.com, Indeed.com, and SimplyHired.com, among others.

Advancement Prospects

Hydroelectric plant technicians with four or more years of experience may advance to become senior technicians, handling more responsibilites. They may become managers, overseeing the work of other technicians. Some advance by earning a bachelor's degree or getting certification. As their knowledge expands, they may get more involved in professional associations and share their knowledge by teaching classes and speaking at conferences. They may also teach in colleges and vocational schools. 

Tips for Entry

Join professional associations such as the International Hydropower Association and the National Hydropower Association for access to education and training, networking opportunities, job referrals, and other career-support resources.

Attend industry events and conferences to meet hydropower professionals and learn more about potential job openings. Find upcoming events at https://www.hydro.org/events.

Keep up with news and trends in the industry and learn more about potential employers by reading publications such as the International Journal on Hydropower & Dams (http://www.hydropower-dams.com) and International Water Power and Dam Construction (http://www.waterpowermagazine.com).

Search for job listings on these Web sites: http://www.hydrofoundation.org/job-postings.html and https://www.hydro.org/job-board.