Career Choice: Biomass Plant Technicians

Career Choice: Biomass Plant Technicians
  • Type: Career Type
  • Opening Intro -

    So-called "green jobs" are growing and it has little to do with sunlight, water or good soil.

    What has happened is that people want, no they are demanding that the earth be cleansed and left in good shape for generations to come.

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This has sparked an entire environmental industry that has in turn raised the demand for trained and skilled workers to do jobs that did not exist a decade or two ago. One such career choice are biomass plant technicians, individuals tasked with overseeing biomass that is converted into fuel. Biomass is derived from living matter and may include leaves, plants, wood, corn, willow and other materials.

Duties

Biomass plant technicians operate biomass fuel-burning equipment to control or adjust the production of biofuel or power fueled by biomass. Technicians operate valves, pumps, generators or engines and inspect related equipment. They keep track of operational data, maintain their work areas, accomplish routine and schedule maintenance, and follow manual instructions.

These individuals operate water chiller or higher-pressure steam boilers. They work with a variety of equipment including grinding mills, intake structures, steam generators, front end loaders and fire tube boilers. Mechanical aptitude is necessary for this position.

Education

Two-thirds of biomass plant technicians have a high school degree or GED. The remaining employees have some college experience including an associate degree according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job candidates seeking an edge for themselves may want to complete an associate degree at a community college in a related field. Des Moines Area Community College, for example, offers a 17-credit Biomass Operations Certificate. Its required courses include: Intro to Biomass Process Tech, Biomass Equipment and Systems, Biomass Tech Health/Safety, Piping and Instrument Diagrams, Operator Biomass Lab Process, Railcar Safety and Steam Plant Operations.

Salaries

As of 2012, the median wage for biomass plant technicians was $53,130 per year reports the BLS. Those in the 10th percentile could expect to earn $28,900 and those in the 25th percentile made $39,300 per year on average. The 50th percentile wage was $53,100. Those in the 75th percentile made $64,900 and those in the 90th percentile made $74,100 per year on average.

Salaries were highest in Alaska where biomass plant technicians could expect to earn $70,600 per year, followed by Tennessee at $69,000. Georgia and New Jersey tied for the third spot at $67,700 per year followed by New Mexico at $65,500 per year.

At the bottom end of the spectrum was Maine with a salary average of $30,600 per year followed by North Dakota at $37,300. Illinois at $38,800, Indiana at $38,900 and South Dakota at $40,300 per year followed.

Job Outlook

The BLS sees little to no change in job grow for biomass plant technicians from 2010 to 2020. It is a small field with just 11,000 employees scattered across the US. The BLS does forecast that there will be 3,700 job openings as people move on to other jobs or retire.

References

Summary Report for: 51-8099.03 – Biomass Plant Technicians

Middlebury College fires up $12 million biomass plant


See Also4 Alternative Energy Schools

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