What Does a Power Generation Technician Do?

When you need electricity on the spot, you need a generator and a power generation technician to keep your power source running smoothly. 

A power generation technician, also called a generator technician or generator mechanic, sets up and repairs all components of power generation systems that provide electrical power. That can be a simple system for a house or boat in need of backup power or a complex, industrial system that ensures a medical facility has a consistent flow of electricity.

Power generation technicians troubleshoot, service and monitor many types of complex combustion systems, including hydraulic, mechanical and electrical components. 

Power generation systems are driven by gas- or diesel-fueled engines. They are used by utilities, oil and gas companies, hospitals and emergency responders, manufacturing, the military, commercial companies and any group or individual that requires uninterrupted power and IT infrastructure.

Generator technicians provide service support on site, which means they may work at one site or they may travel to many different sites. 

Interested in learning more about this in-demand career? Keep reading for more details.

$ 34,000 - $ 71,100
$ 49,100
A power generation technician, or generator technician, performs preventative maintenance on a power system.
Power generation technicians are the specialty mechanics who literally keep the lights on by making sure industrial generator equipment is running smoothly. (Credit: Mark Agnor/Shutterstock)

Job Responsibilities

  • Install generators and other power generation systems
  • Diagnose and repair problems with generators, transfer switches, switchgear and other mechanical and electrical equipment
  • Perform preventive maintenance tasks such as lubrication and load testing
  • Test systems for efficiency and output
  • Clearly communicate with customers and management
  • Prepare generators for transport 
  • Follow safety protocols 

How To Become a Generator Technician: FAQs 

What steps should I take to become a power generation technician?

Most employers require a high school diploma, so your first step is earning your diploma or equivalent. 

Next, get specialized training by earning a certificate or an associate degree. 

Programs are offered by trade schools and community colleges. More companies are partnering with schools to provide manufacturer-specific training programs.

Courses include electrical system fundamentals, diesel technology, AC generator fundamentals, power and control electronics, load bank testing, automatic transfer switches and preventive maintenance techniques. 

Look for accredited programs or those approved by the Electrical Generator Systems Association (EGSA).

Some companies offer on-the-job training or apprenticeships under the supervision of an experienced generator technician. 

Are there any other qualifications to consider?

Military training in power generation will give you a head-start. In fact, any prior power generation-related experience will be beneficial. For example, anyone who has trained as a diesel mechanic has learned fundamentals that will apply to becoming a power generation technician.

Most employers will look for job candidates with a regular driver’s license to make it possible to travel to job sites. Some employers require technicians earn a Class A commercial driver’s license.

Certification isn’t required, but it’s a great way to broaden your career options and become more valuable. 

For example, Electrical Generator Systems Technician Certification ensures in-depth knowledge of electricity, mechanical and electrical components and proficiency in the installation, service, maintenance and repair of power generation systems. This certification is offered on two levels, apprentice and journeyman, and must be renewed every three or five years.

Certification programs are offered by many groups, including EGSA, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the National Institute for Generator Service (NIGS).

How long does it take to become a power generation technician?

Programs vary in length, from three to 12 months for a certificate program or 24 months for an associate degree program.

Continuing education and training is a must for this career. Embrace being a lifelong learner because the tools and technology in the power generation sector are continually changing.

What is the work environment of a power generation technician like?

This career may require troubleshooting in challenging environments. (Think of the places where you would need a generator and you get the idea.) Generator technicians may need to work overtime for after-hours emergencies.

What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit to become a generator technician?

Successful generator technicians tend to share these traits: 

  • Excellent troubleshooting skills
  • Strong mechanical and electrical aptitude
  • Good communication skills
  • Manual dexterity
  • Able to work well with others 
  • Good critical thinking skills
  • Highly organized
  • Physical strength
The bottom line:

Some people are good at troubleshooting from an early age. If that describes you and you want to work in a profession that is increasingly in-demand, being a power generation technician could be the career for you. Check out the training programs offered by SkillPointe’s partners below.

What Is It Like To Be a Power Gen Technician?

A young man stands in his driveway, leaned up against his turquoise Ford Ranger truck.

What Is It Like To Be a Power Gen Technician?

Austin Kolas started in the Cummins Technician Apprentice Program one week after he graduated from high school.

Through the program, he was able to earn an associate degree in diesel and heavy equipment technology from Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. Cummins picked up all the costs of his degree.

“Since I was working and getting my degree at the same time, it was difficult to balance it all at times,” he said. “It was a lot, but it was definitely doable and I put my mind to it.”

Learn what it's like to be a power generation technician.

Ask the Expert

Jenny Bush, Cummins VP

Ask the Expert

Jenny Bush has a history of choosing the path less taken. The girls in her family had always become nurses, but not Jenny. She opted for an apprenticeship with Shell Oil, where she was the first female technician in that role. 

That was 1995. Today she's vice president of sales and service North America for Cummins, a company where she has taken on a variety of different roles and loved every one of them. Her secret to success is that she's always open to new opportunities.

"In every role, learn, learn, learn," she says. "I was able to progress because I sought out new experiences and built on the knowledge I had. I usually took on more than my fair share of work and I always wanted to gain new skills."

Find out more about Jenny's story and why she's excited about the future of Cummins.

Power Generation Technician Training in Your Area

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