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Careers in Hydroelectric Energy

Hydroelectric energy is a long-established source of energy. Hydroelectric power plants have been generating electricity in the United States for over 100 years. In 2010, 6-7% of total U.S. electricity was generated from hydroelectric power plants from across the nation. Currently, the hydroelectric power industry employs more than 300,000 workers in the United States.

The following profiles describe commonly held position in the hydroelectric power industry including those involved in the planning, design, and building of hydroelectric power plants as well as their operation and maintenance.

Hydrologist - Hydrologists study the distribution, movement, and properties of Earth's water. They are involved in planning large hydroelectric projects as well as managing water resources created by such projects, including water quality and determining water supplies.

Mechanical Engineer - Mechanical Engineers consider the physics involved in the operations of hydroelectric system. They often work in the planning and development of a hydroelectric power plant, providing information about the dynamics of a turbine and generator system, such as size and weight and what components should be considered.

Civil Engineer - Civil Engineers design the structural aspects of a hydroelectric power plant. They develop plans for building dams, reservoirs, power houses, and other necessary buildings. They consider ways to harness the power of running water that are efficient and protect plant structures.

Environmental Scientist - Environmental Scientists evaluate the potential effects that a hydroelectric power plant might have on its surrounding environment. They may also provide solutions if their findings indicate a negative effect on the environment.

Hydroelectric Installation Workers - Hydroelectric Installation Workers build and maintain hydroelectric power systems. They are responsible for constructing electrical and mechanical components such as turbines and generators.

Hydroelectric Plant Operator - Hydroelectric Plant Operators control the hydroelectric plant equipment. They read charts and examine data from meters and gauges to determine when to open and close valves and switches necessary to keep the plant functioning properly. They also look for evidence of operating problems.

Hydroelectric Plant Efficiency Operator - Hydroelectric Plant Efficiency Operators make routine inspections of hydroelectric power plant equipment, gather data and read meters and gauges. They ensure that hydroelectric power plant equipment is kept in good condition to avoid power interruptions.

Hydroelectric Maintenance Workers - Hydroelectric Maintenance Workers inspect water-powered electrical generators and maintain and repair equipment including electric motors, switch gears, pumps, hydraulics, water transmission systems and flood channels.

Hydroelectric Plant Electrician - Hydroelectric Plant Electricians test, inspect, and make sure the electrical components of all plant systems are properly installed, repaired, and maintained.