What Does a 3rd Class Power Engineer Do?

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  • Written By: Bryce Clinton
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2019
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A 3rd class power engineer is responsible for running and maintaining power plant facilities that serve as major generation and distribution centers, or for running and maintaining smaller power utility systems in industrial, commercial, or residential buildings. Usually anyone who becomes a 3rd class power engineer will already have extensive experience, and will have passed the class-three examination. Such persons may also have completed an apprenticeship. There can be notable differences between the duties held by different third-class power engineers, but all play a lead role in utility or facility management.

There are many types of power plants, and thus the duties for a 3rd class power engineer can vary. As an apprentice, for example, the following are roles that 3rd class power engineers might fulfill: serving as an assistant shift engineer in any type of power or heating plant; serving as the primary shift engineer for any power plant or heating plant; and serving as the primary power engineer for any low-pressure heating plant. After such apprentice roles, duties will eventually become more senior until it's time to pass the second-class examination.


Careers in third-class power systems engineering are fairly advanced. Engineers at this level first have to pass through levels five and four. At level three, one needs extensive knowledge pertaining to every aspect of thermal utility systems, including thermodynamics, fuels and combustion, pressure and control systems, prime movers, electro technology, cogeneration, and other specialized systems. One must also know how to operate many types of systems and controls, as well as maintain and sometimes fix various systems. In addition, one needs to know many government regulations and codes to qualify as a 3rd class power engineer.

When operating a power plant, 3rd class power engineers are expected to abide by many safety and operations protocols. This level of power engineer will often perform duties that require an advanced understanding of maintenance, procedural, and administrative issues. 3rd class power engineers must be authorities on almost every aspect of plant or facility operations, making this a job with a high degree of responsibility.

In most parts of the world, one must complete a series of certifications and training time to become a 3rd class power engineer. This training involves several years of formal study and the completion of various prerequisites. One can start with a technical program, or one can accumulate experience in a power plant, but eventually national tests have to be taken for advancement. Often a government-approved apprenticeship is used as an additional stepping stone to achieving this position.


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