How Can I Find Water Chemistry Jobs in Power Plants?
Explore the career requirements for water chemists working in power plants. Get the facts about education requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Does a Water Chemist in a Power Plant Do?
Many power plants employ water chemists to monitor and review their water systems. They are responsible for testing the composition of the water used in heating and cooling machinery and in generating electricity. They record and analyze their results, and they may write up reports or presentations for executives in the power plant. When they come across problems or abnormalities, they may be tasked with designing chemistry-based solutions to ensure safety and improve efficiency in the power plant. In addition, they are often responsible for maintaining water-related machinery in the plant.
See the table below for some career facts on chemists working in power plants.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree, master's degree recommended|
|Education Field of Study||Environmental and resource science, chemistry, hydrology or microbiology for bachelor's degree; geoscience for master's degree|
|Key Responsibilities||Test water for contamination, oxygen levels, conductivity and sodium ions; maintain hydroelectric equipment, pumping equipment, compressors, heaters and generators|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||4% for all chemists*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$76,890 for all chemists*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What Education Do I Need to Work in Water Chemistry?
For a career in water chemistry, you'll need an undergraduate degree in majors such as environmental and resource science, chemistry, hydrology or microbiology. Other training and education that will help you in your career include computer technology, power plant technology and mechanical operations. Although a bachelor's degree may be acceptable you should acquire a master's degree in geoscience or environmental science so you can qualify for the best job opportunities.
What Will I Study?
When you pursue a master's degree in geoscience, you'll take courses such as geo-mechanics, geo-computations, groundwater hydrology and air pollution fundamentals. Classes in structural geology, fluid and rock physics, water resources, petroleum geology and hydrological science applications may also be offered. Also, you may need to take courses in research methods.
If you're interested in environmental science, you can take master's degree programs that focus on courses such as urban ecology, aquatic plants, marine conservation science, river and stream ecology, waste water treatment and watershed hydrology.
If I Work in a Power Plant, What Will My Job Involve?
As a water chemist working within a power plant, you'll ensure that the water supplied to nuclear reactors, pressurized water reactors, hydro-electric systems and boiler systems is of good quality, free of major contaminants and, in some cases, purified. Having a good water treatment program includes testing the water for levels of dissolved oxygen, conductivity and sodium ion. Testing water samples will help identify and prevent problems such as corrosion, build-up of sediment and leakage that could lead to plant inefficiency and increased maintenance costs. As you monitor equipment and read meters, you'll learn to identify and record any abnormalities you find.
In hydro-electric plant operations, hydraulic turbines are utilized to turn water into mechanical energy, which generators then turn into electricity. Some of your other job responsibilities as a water chemist may include knowing how to managing hydroelectric equipment such as log chutes and spillway gates to maintain proper water levels. Additional duties might entail maintenance of pumping equipment, compressors, heaters and generators.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Instead of working for a power plant, you could choose to work as a research chemist in an academic or industrial setting. Depending on your interests within the field, you could focus on basic science or applied research, and you could choose from a wide range of chemistry subfields, including physical, organic and theoretical chemistry. A top job requires a doctoral degree, but laboratory research jobs are available for master's and bachelor's degree-holders as well. Another option is to get a job as a chemical engineer, which would involve applying the principles of the field to the development of chemistry-related problems in a wide variety of industries. At minimum, chemical engineers need a bachelor's degree.