Substation Operator

Run substations that convert high-voltage power into usable electricity.
picture of Substation Operator

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$48,000 – $93,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Substation Operators do?

A Substation Operator’s job is to inspect, operate, and maintain electrical substations, which contain equipment that transforms electricity from one voltage to another so that it can be safely used by customers.

Put another way: An electrical grid is like a relay race. The starting line is the power plant and the finish line is the customer’s home or business. In between, the baton — electricity — is passed between hands several times, which helps it travel farther, faster.

Within an electrical distribution system, the points at which the baton is passed are the electrical substations, while the relay runner who does the passing is the Substation Operator.

It’s kind of like a funnel: A substation regulates a rush of energy from a power plant and channels it into a controlled stream, which keeps it from overflowing and overwhelming the power grid. As the Substation Operator, you hold the funnel, do the pouring, and clean up any spills.

In terms of daily duties and responsibilities, that means operating electrical equipment that controls the flow of electricity, such as current converters, voltage transformers, and circuit breakers. It also means taking readings of switchboard instruments to monitor how much electricity your substation consumes and distributes. In addition, you communicate with Load Dispatchers to receive switching instructions, monitor and inspect equipment to detect defaults, and replace defective fuses and switches.

Basically, you’re the “mini” version of a Power System Dispatcher or a Power Plant Operator. Instead of directing the flow of electricity at the power plant, however, you channel it through your individual substation — almost as if you’re a Franchisee and your power plant is the franchise!

Should I be a Substation Operator?

You should have an associate's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.

  • Also known as: Control Area Operator, Distribution Operations Supervisor, Distribution System Operator, Electric System Operator See More

    How to become a Substation Operator

    Substation Operators often have an Associate's degree. Chart?chd=s:g69jaa&chl=no+college+%2820%25%29|certificate+%2836%25%29|associate%27s+%2838%25%29|bachelor%27s+%286%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,20,38
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