Steam turbine operator

A steam turbine operator


Steam turbine operators operate and maintain machinery which generates power. They ensure the safety of the operations and monitor operations to detect problems, and react to emergency situations.

Here are some of the duties and skills of a steam turbine operator:

  • Operating and maintaining machinery that generates power
  • Ensuring the safety of the operations
  • Monitoring and controlling the operation of steam turbines, main generators, and auxiliary turbine generating equipment
  • Starting, stopping, controlling, and monitoring steam turbines and auxiliary equipment
  • Performing routine maintenance and troubleshooting on plant equipment
  • Inspecting turbines, generators, boilers, and other equipment
  • Making necessary repairs or modifications
  • Cleaning, lubricating, and maintaining parts and equipment to ensure proper functioning

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to steam turbine operator:

steam boiler operator
steam turbine safety operator
steam generator operator
steam turbine generator operator
steam turbine machinery operator
turbine hall worker
steam turbine monitoring operator
steam-electric power operator

Minimum qualifications

The educational requirements for steam turbine operators can vary, but a high school diploma or equivalent is typically required. Some employers may prefer candidates with technical training or certifications in power plant operations, mechanical systems, or related fields. On-the-job training is provided to familiarize operators with specific turbine systems, controls, and safety procedures. Strong mechanical aptitude, problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work effectively in a team are important qualities for steam turbine operators.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Steam turbine operator is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Steam turbine operator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to steam turbine operator.

biogas technician
power production plant operator
heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration engineering technician
geothermal power plant operator
fossil-fuel power plant operator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of steam turbine operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of steam turbine operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

steam engineer
maintenance and repair engineer
mine ventilation engineer
nuclear engineer
thermal engineer

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of steam turbine operator.

  • Thermodynamics: The branch of physics that deals with the relationships between heat and other forms of energy.
  • Types of steam engines: The different types of heat engines which use steam as working fluid and are used to produce motion, such as steam turbines and stationary steam engines, and their various components.
  • Mechanics: Theoretical and practical applications of the science studying the action of displacements and forces on physical bodies to the development of machinery and mechanical devices.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of steam turbine operator.

  • Ensure compliance with environmental legislation: Monitor activities and perform tasks ensuring compliance with standards involving environmental protection and sustainability, and amend activities in the case of changes in environmental legislation. Ensure that the processes are compliant with environment regulations and best practices.
  • Use personal protection equipment: Make use of protection equipment according to training, instruction and manuals. Inspect the equipment and use it consistently.
  • Identify hazards in the workplace: Perform safety audits and inspections on workplaces and workplace equipment. Ensure that they meet safety regulations and identify hazards and risks.
  • Conduct routine machinery checks: Check machinery and equipment to ensure reliable performance during use and operations in worksites.
  • Use testing equipment: Use equipment to test performance and operation of machinery.
  • Operate steam turbine: Operate equipment that uses thermal energy, extracted from pressurised steam, to generate rotary motion. Ensure that the turbine is balanced, and operates according to safety regulations and legislation, by monitoring the equipment during operations.
  • Adjust cylinder valves: Adjust the tension on the cylinder valves or change the valves with torque wrench.
  • Monitor valves: Monitor and accordingly adjust the valves in order to allow a specific amount of liquids (such as ammonia sulfuric acid or viscous soap) or steam into the mixer or machine.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of steam turbine operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Electricity: Understand the principles of electricity and electrical power circuits, as well as the associated risks.
  • Automation technology: Set of technologies that make a process, system, or apparatus operate automatically through the use of control systems.
  • Manufacturing of steam generators: The manufacture of steam or other vapour generators, the manufacture of auxiliary plant for use with steam generators: condensers, economisers, superheaters, steam collectors and accumulators. The manufacture of nuclear reactors, parts for marine or power boilers. Also the production of pipe system construction comprising further processing of tubes generally to make pressure pipes or pipe systems together with the associated design and construction work.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of steam turbine operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Operate automated process control: Operate process control or automation system (PAS) used to control a production process automatically.
  • Maintain records of maintenance interventions: Keep written records of all repairs and maintenance interventions undertaken, including information on the parts and materials used, etc.
  • Resolve equipment malfunctions: Identify, report and repair equipment damage and malfunctions; communicate with field representatives and manufacturers to obtain repair and replacement components.
  • Create incident reports: Fill in an incident report after an accident has happened at the company or facility, such as an unusual event that caused an occupational injury to a worker.
  • React to mining emergencies: Quickly respond to emergency calls. Provide appropriate assistance and direct first response team to incident scene.
  • Manage emergency procedures: React quickly in case of emergency and set planned emergency procedures in motion.
  • Arrange equipment repairs: Arrange for equipment repairs when necessary.
  • Operate boiler: Operate sealed vessels that contain fluids that are heated or vaporised, not always up to boiling, for heating or power generation, such as in utilities. Ensure safe procedures by monitoring the blower auxiliary equipment closely during operations, and identifying faults and risks.
  • Perform maintenance on installed equipment: Perform the maintenance on installed equipment on-site. Follow procedures to avoid uninstalling equipment from machinery or vehicles.
  • Monitor automated machines: Continuously check up on the automated machine’s set-up and execution or make regular control rounds. If necessary, record and interpret data on the operating conditions of installations and equipment in order to identify abnormalities.
  • Ensure equipment cooling: Make sure the machines and installations are properly supplied with air and coolants in order to prevent overheating and other malfunctions.
  • Collaborate with engineers: Work closely and communicate with engineers on designs or new products.
  • Manage fuel inventory: Submit fuel orders in time; make sure fuel is delivered before reserves are depleted.
  • Enforce fuel storage regulations: Enforce fuel storage regulations, in accordance with governmental and environmental policies and regulations.
  • Perform minor repairs to equipment: Conduct routine maintenance on equipment. Recognise and identify minor defects in equipment and make repairs if appropriate.
  • Operate stationary steam engine: Operate engines which are fixed in place and use power generated by steam to drive equipment, ensuring that the equipment is safe, and monitoring the equipment to identify faults and risks.

ISCO group and title

3131 – Power production plant operators

  1. Steam turbine operator – ESCO
  2. Featured image: By Elena Venediktova –, CC BY-SA 2.0
Last updated on June 19, 2023