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Occupational Profile

Power Engineer

Power engineers supervise, operate and maintain machinery and boilers that provide steam, power, heat, refrigeration and other utility services to industrial and commercial facilities.

  • Avg. Salary $87,932.00
  • Avg. Wage $42.24
  • Minimum Education Less than high school
  • Outlook Down
Also Known As

Stationary Engineer, Steam Engineer

NOC & Interest Codes
The Power Engineer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Stationary Engineers and Auxiliary Equipment Operators
NOC code: 7351
OBJECTIVE

Interest in controlling and operating automated and computerized control systems, stationary engines and auxiliary equipment

innovative

Interest in analyzing information from instrument readings to detect leaks and other equipment malfunctions; may assist in the development of operation, maintenance and safety procedures

methodical

Interest in recording instrument readings, in monitoring and inspecting computer terminals, plant equipment, switches, valves, gauges, alarms, meters and other instruments to measure temperature, pressure and fuel flow, in ensuring plant equipment is operating at maximum efficiency and in maintaining a daily log of operation, maintenance and safety activities

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Power engineers are responsible for the safe and efficient operation and maintenance of industrial equipment such as boilers, steam and gas turbines, generators, gas and diesel internal combustion engines, pumps, condensers, compressors, pressure vessels and related controls. In large industrial or building complexes, they also may be responsible for heating, air-conditioning, ventilation, refrigeration, fire systems and building control systems.

Responsibilities vary from one position to another, but in general, power engineers:

  • ensure that safety codes and other applicable regulations are followed
  • use computerized systems to control, start, shut down and track the operation of boilers and related equipment, or use automatic or manual controls
  • monitor alarms, gauges and other instruments associated with plant operations
  • troubleshoot and take corrective action to prevent equipment or system failures
  • isolate and lock out equipment mechanically and electrically for inspection and repair
  • ensure that equipment and processes operate at maximum efficiency
  • take chemical tests of boiler water and other process samples, interpret them and determine appropriate chemical treatments
  • assist in the development of operation, maintenance and safety procedures
  • prepare equipment for maintenance and inspection (for example, shut down, lock out, restart)
  • maintain a daily log of operation, maintenance and safety activities
  • investigate and report on safety-related accidents or incidents
  • write reports about plant operation and advise on operational issues to improve plant performance
  • work with outside agencies, consultants and contractors (for example, advise designers on operating characteristics of equipment to achieve optimal design).

Industrial plants and building operations often are automated to enhance production efficiency and improve safety. In some plants, senior power engineers may work in control room environments, analyzing problems and taking action to ensure continuous and reliable operation of equipment and systems. At times, they must switch from automatic controls to manual controls to correct problems and ensure the safety of staff and equipment.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Working conditions vary considerably in this occupation. In junior positions, power engineers may be exposed to high noise levels, high temperatures, high humidity, all types of outdoor weather conditions, dust, grease, hazardous chemicals or unpleasant odours. For example, those working in coal-fired power generating stations are exposed to coal dust and fly ash. In large plants, power engineers may be required to enter confined spaces or inspect equipment located at extreme heights. Power engineers in senior positions often work in climate controlled environments or offices.

Lifting items that weigh up to 20 kilograms and climbing ladders, staircases and scaffolds to work at heights may be an occasional or regular part of the work. Safety precautions and procedures (for example, the use of respiratory protective equipment) must be observed to reduce the risk of injury. Some plants do not allow smoking anywhere on site.

Power engineers often work shifts, weekends, holidays and emergency overtime to accommodate continuous production.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Power engineers need the following characteristics:

  • mechanical and electrical aptitude
  • good vision, hearing, manual dexterity and eye-hand co-ordination
  • good communication skills in person and in writing
  • good organizational and decision making skills
  • the ability to read and interpret blueprints and other plant drawings
  • the ability to work safely and efficiently
  • the ability to work well with others in a team environment.

Power engineers should enjoy controlling and operating manual and automated systems, analyzing information and solving problems, and having clear rules and organized methods for their work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 07, 2017

In Alberta, power engineers are certified through the Alberta Boilers Safety Association (ABSA). Standardized certification exam results are accepted in all Canadian provinces and territories.

There are 5 standardized levels of certification, advancing from 5th Class certificate to 1st Class certificate. Different types of certificates are required depending on an individual's duties and scope of practice.

Each level of certification has different training and employment experience requirements. In addition to work experience, completion of an approved course normally is required to challenge 4th and 5th Class Certificate of Competency examinations.

To write the examination for the:

  • 3rd Class Certificate, candidates must hold a 4th Class Power Engineer's or Building Operator A Certificate of Competency. Individuals with a valid Building Operator A Certificate of Competency must have successfully completed an approved course in power engineering prior to attempting the 3rd Class examination
  • 2nd Class Certificate, candidates must hold a 3rd Class Power Engineering Certificate of Competency
  • 1st Class Certificate, candidates must hold a 2nd Class Power Engineer's Certificate of Competency.

There are also 4 provincial levels of certification:

  • Special Oilwell Operator - for operators of transportable power plants at drilling sites with capacity up to 1,000 kW
  • Special Boiler Operator - site-specific certificate of competency for operators at a power plant not exceeding 250 kW
  • Special Stream-powered Traction Engine Operator - for operators of historic boilers (excluding locomotive on a railroad) with capacity up to 250 kW, while it is operating in a display or for the purposes of entertainment
  • Fired Process Heater Operator - for operators of thermal liquid heating systems (power plants containing a thermal liquid under pressure of a blanketing gas not exceeding 700 kPa and power plants containing water-glycol mixture with a minimum of 40% glycol).

For more information on the required exam qualifications and the certification process visit the ABSA website.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Red Deer College

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Power Engineer

Power engineers supervise, operate and maintain power plants, heating plants and thermal liquid heating systems. They also may sketch, construct, install, repair or provide advice regarding power or heating plants.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Safety Codes Act and Power Engineers Regulation, you must hold an appropriate certificate from the Alberta Boilers Safety Association (ABSA) to supervise a power plant, heating plant or thermal heating system. Different types of certificates are required to operate and maintain different types of boilers. Certification is not required to assist in the operation of a power or heating plant under the supervision of a certified Power Engineer.

Education

There are 5 standardized levels of certification, advancing from 5th Class certificate to 1st Class certificate. Each level of certification has different training and employment experience requirements. There also are 4 provincial levels of certification: Special Oilwell Operator, Special Boiler Operator, Special Steam-powered Traction Engine Operator and Fired Process Heater Operator. In addition to work experience, completion of an approved course normally is required to challenge 4th and 5th Class Certificate of Competency examinations. For official, detailed information about certification requirements, visit the ABSA website.

Working in Alberta

Power engineers who are certified by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for certification in Alberta if certified power engineers in the 2 jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated power engineers, see Power Engineer Certification Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Contact Details

Alberta Boilers Safety Association
9410 20th Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T6N 0A4
Phone number: 780-437-9100
Fax number: 780-437-7787
Website: www.absa.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Power engineers may be employed in any industry in which boilers are used. For example, they may be employed in:

  • gas plants
  • power generating plants
  • heavy oil plants
  • petrochemical plants
  • pulp mills
  • plastic plants
  • breweries 
  • food production plants
  • refineries
  • hospitals
  • hotels
  • schools and other institutions
  • office and apartment complexes.

Competition for entry-level positions is keen, especially at the 3rd, 4th and 5th Class Power Engineer levels. Advancement to more responsible positions usually requires higher levels of certification. However, higher-level certificates do not guarantee promotion.

Power engineers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 9241: Power engineers and power systems operators. In Alberta, 78% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 4,300 Albertans are employed in the Stationary engineers and auxiliary equipment operators occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.4% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 60 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As power engineers form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for power engineers.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Earnings for power engineers vary according to the level of certificate held, the responsibilities of the position, and the location and size of the employing organization.

Power engineers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 9241: Power engineers and power systems operators.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Power engineers and power systems operators occupational group earned on average from $38.18 to $44.95 an hour. The overall average wage was $42.24 an hour. For more information, see the Power engineers and power systems operators wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Electro-Technologies
    • Mechanics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Alberta Boilers Safety Association (ABSA) website: www.absa.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 19, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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