Power Distributors and Dispatchers
Coordinate, regulate, or distribute electricity or steam.
Sample of reported job titles: Control Operator, Distribution Dispatcher, Distribution System Operator, Electric System Operator, Power System Dispatcher, Power System Operator, System Operator, Transmission System Operator
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Respond to emergencies, such as transformer or transmission line failures, and route current around affected areas.
- Prepare switching orders that will isolate work areas without causing power outages, referring to drawings of power systems.
- Control, monitor, or operate equipment that regulates or distributes electricity or steam, using data obtained from instruments or computers.
- Coordinate with engineers, planners, field personnel, or other utility workers to provide information such as clearances, switching orders, or distribution process changes.
- Distribute or regulate the flow of power between entities, such as generating stations, substations, distribution lines, or users, keeping track of the status of circuits or connections.
- Record and compile operational data, such as chart or meter readings, power demands, or usage and operating times, using transmission system maps.
- Manipulate controls to adjust or activate power distribution equipment or machines.
- Track conditions that could affect power needs, such as changes in the weather, and adjust equipment to meet any anticipated changes.
- Calculate load estimates or equipment requirements to determine required control settings.
- Direct personnel engaged in controlling or operating distribution equipment or machinery, such as instructing control room operators to start boilers or generators.
- Monitor and record switchboard or control board readings to ensure that electrical or steam distribution equipment is operating properly.
- Inspect equipment to ensure that specifications are met or to detect any defects.
- Implement energy schedules, including real-time transmission reservations or schedules.
- Tend auxiliary equipment used in the power distribution process.
- Repair, maintain, or clean equipment or machinery, using hand tools.
Find occupations related to multiple tasks
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- Data base user interface and query software — Microsoft Access
- Geographic information system — Geographic information system GIS software
- Industrial control software — ABB MicroSCADA Pro DMS; ABB MicroSCADA Pro SYS; OSI monarch/SGP; Supervisory control and data acquisition SCADA software (see all 21 examples)
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
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- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
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- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
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- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Operate energy distribution equipment.
- Plan production or operational procedures or sequences.
- Exchange information with colleagues.
- Direct operational or production activities.
- Record operational or production data.
- Monitor equipment operation to ensure proper functioning.
- Inspect production equipment.
- Adjust equipment to ensure optimal performance.
- Calculate specific material, equipment, or labor requirements for production.
- Monitor external factors impacting operations.
- Clean production equipment.
- Maintain production or processing equipment.
- Repair production equipment or tools.
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- Frequency of Decision Making — 80% responded “Every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 77% responded “Very important results.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 81% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 63% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 70% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 52% responded “Extremely important.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 56% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Telephone — 78% responded “Every day.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 49% responded “High responsibility.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 54% responded “Extremely important.”
- Consequence of Error — 80% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 46% responded “Extremely important.”
- Time Pressure
- Deal With External Customers — 47% responded “Extremely important.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 34% responded “Some freedom.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 61% responded “40 hours.”
- Electronic Mail
- Spend Time Sitting
- Physical Proximity — 45% responded “Moderately close (at arm’s length).”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 64% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 34% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 42% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 43% responded “More than half the time.”
- Letters and Memos — 22% responded “Every day.”
- In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 36% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
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|Title||Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate’s degree.|
|Related Experience||Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include hydroelectric production managers, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|52||High school diploma or equivalent
|15||Some college, no degree|
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Interest code: RIC Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
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- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
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- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$45.72 hourly, $95,100 annual|
|Employment (2020)||10,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Decline (-1% or lower)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||800|
|Top industries (2020)||
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Public Power Association
- Association of Energy Engineers
- Center for Energy Workforce Development
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
- North American Electric Reliability Corporation
- Nuclear Energy Institute
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers
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