Home page

Hydroelectric Plant Technicians

At a Glance

  • Often operate heavy equipment
  • Test, operate, and troubleshoot sophisticated controls when working at a plant
  • Work both indoors and outdoors
  • Often work in teams
  • Most train through apprenticeship programs
  • Some train on the job

Career summary

Hydroelectric plant technicians monitor hydroelectric plant equipment.

Hydroelectric plant technicians are also known as hydroelectric plant mechanics.

Hydroelectric plant technicians make adjustments to ensure the correct amount of water flows through valves and gates to produce the correct amount of power. They work with machines such as turbines, pumps, valves, gates, fans, electric control boards, and battery banks.

Technicians perform regular check-ups on equipment and make repairs. If necessary, they install new equipment. They maintain records of how the plant performs, what parts they maintain, and any repairs they make. They regularly talk with supervisors and other technicians about problems with equipment, or how equipment is running.

Hydroelectric technicians perform different tasks on the job, including:

Related careers

This career is part of the Manufacturing cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to hydroelectric plant technicians.

Common work activities

Hydroelectric plant technicians perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, hydroelectric plant technicians:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Hydroelectric plant technicians frequently:

It is important for hydroelectric plant technicians to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for hydroelectric plant technicians to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Hydroelectric plant technicians need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a hydroelectric plant technician, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Many hydroelectric plant technicians learn their skills through an apprenticeship training program. Admission to apprenticeship programs is competitive. To apply for an apprenticeship, you must:

Apprenticeship programs usually consist of four years of on-the-job training. You are paid for the time you spend on the job. In addition, each year you receive at least 144 hours of classroom training.

To learn about specific apprenticeship opportunities in your area, consult the US Department of Labor State Apprenticeship Information (external link) website.

You can prepare for an apprenticeship by taking courses at a professional-technical or two-year school. Courses in general math and blueprint reading prepare students to enter apprenticeship programs. However, these courses are not required to qualify for an apprenticeship.

On-the-job training

Some hydroelectric plant technicians learn their skills informally on the job. In this case, you learn skills from an experienced worker. Training usually takes several years.

Washington apprenticeships

In Washington, to enter the apprenticeship program, applicants should:

For further information on apprenticeships in Washington, contact:

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Apprenticeship Program (external link)

PO Box 44530
Olympia, WA 98504-4530

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements (external link). You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Experience working with machines, welding, pipefitting, plumbing, or electrical systems is good background for this occupation.

Costs to workers

Some workers are required to join a union and pay an initiation fee and dues.


#Currently, there is no specific statewide wage information available for hydroelectric plant technicians. However, this occupation is part of the larger group called "all other plant and system operators." 

#Added these statements 11/1/16 cj.

Plant and system operators, all other (SOC 51-8099)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $25.55 $30.18 $33.28 $36.71 $39.59
Monthly $4,428 $5,230 $5,767 $6,362 $6,861
Yearly $53,140 $62,780 $69,210 $76,360 $82,340
    Bellingham Hourly $28.74 $32.19 $35.81 $39.04 $40.98
Monthly $4,981 $5,579 $6,206 $6,766 $7,102
Yearly $59,779 $66,958 $74,483 $81,205 $85,238
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $26.71 $29.74 $34.03 $37.73 $41.12
Monthly $4,629 $5,154 $5,897 $6,539 $7,126
Yearly $55,550 $61,876 $70,787 $78,485 $85,527
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $16.63 $18.58 $24.99 $34.20 $37.31
Monthly $2,882 $3,220 $4,331 $5,927 $6,466
Yearly $34,597 $38,657 $51,974 $71,144 $77,603
    Vancouver Hourly $21.11 $23.78 $30.53 $40.87 $45.35
Monthly $3,658 $4,121 $5,291 $7,083 $7,859
Yearly $43,913 $49,458 $63,514 $85,020 $94,342
United States Hourly $16.63 $21.37 $27.45 $33.55 $39.30
Monthly $2,882 $3,703 $4,757 $5,814 $6,811
Yearly $34,580 $44,450 $57,100 $69,790 $81,750

Pay varies with the worker's level of education, responsibility, and experience. Salaries vary greatly by employer and plant size. Pay also varies depending on the employer and the area of the country.

Hydroelectric plant technicians who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, health insurance, and a retirement plan. 

National wage information is not available specifically for hydroelectric plant technicians. However, they are part of the larger group of "all other plant and system operators."

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Plant and System Operators, All Other (SOC 51-8099)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 287 3.1% 16.1% 30
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 69 1.4% 11.9% 7
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 18 0.0% 15.2% 2
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 14 14.3% 14.6% 2
    King County 13 7.7% 19.6% 1
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 26 -3.8% 13.8% 2
    Pierce County 109 6.4% 15.2% 12
    Snohomish County 15 0.0% 12.4% 1
United States 12,600 0.8% 5.2% 1,400

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is expected to show little to no change. The increased use of renewable energy may create some jobs. 

Employment and outlook information is not available specifically for hydroelectric plant technicians. However, they are part of the larger group of "all other plant and system operators."

Other resources

Chelan County PUD Apprenticeships (external link)
Electric League of the Pacific Northwest (external link)
PO Box 50633
Bellevue, WA 98015
International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (external link)
4755 East Philadelphia Street
Ontario, CA 91761
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (external link)
901 D Street SW, Suite 930
Washington, DC 20024
Seattle City Light Apprenticeship Program (external link)
US Department of Energy (external link)
(Renewable energy information - hydropower)
Washington Business Week (external link)
PO Box 1170
Renton, WA 98057
Welding.com (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster