Student Generating Plant Operator Training (SGPO)

If you are interested in a career in electricity and plant operations, then this program may be for you. This 12- to 18-month training program leads to the position of assistant unit operator (AUO).

TVA has assistant unit operators in both its fossil and nuclear plants. They control the flow of water and generation of steam and production of electricity. They monitor equipment conditions and performance, accomplish preventive and minor corrective maintenance routines and conduct process-control and failure analyses. In addition, they operate equipment such as turbines, condensers, pumps, valves, gates, scales, pulverizers, conveyors, fans, electric control boards and chemical tanks.

The training program consists of a combination of on-the-job and classroom instruction. Some training may be conducted at locations other than the selected worksite. The position of SGPO requires students to be prepared for class, including homework assignments, out-of-class readings, pop quizzes, written exams and oral exams. In addition, you will be required to exhibit skills required to perform certain tasks through the use of qualification cards.

Upon the successful completion of training, the position of SGPO leads to exciting career opportunities within the operations career path beginning with the position of assistant unit operator. This position includes rotating shift work, overtime, call-outs, outage work and schedules and working weekends and holidays.

Physical requirements include lifting 50 to 75 pounds, sitting, walking, bending, squatting, climbing, kneeling, twisting, standing, raking, shoveling, etc. The work environment includes working at heights and in confined spaces. There is exposure to heat, cold, dampness, dirt, height, temperature changes, rotating equipment, energized systems and exposure to coal dust (fossil only). Safety requires proper footwear, hearing protection, hard hats and use of respirators.

To be employed in a nuclear plant as an AUO, employees must meet and maintain the requirements for unescorted nuclear plant access. These include successful completion of the psychological and physical exams given by TVA medical personnel; successful completion of General Employee Training and retraining, including the exams; completion of Health Physics training and passing the required exam; passing background investigations for nuclear plant access and employment suitability; and willingness to submit to a hands-on search at least 10 percent of the time.


Current pay for the training program is as follows:


  • Period 1: $71,290
  • Period 2: $76,770
  • Period 3: $83,170
  • Period 4: $91,395


  • Period 1: $75,150
  • Period 2: $81,160
  • Period 3: $87,175
  • Period 4: $91,395

Once you have successfully completed the training program, you are an Assistant Unit Operator. Current pay for the position in the nuclear organization is $100,200 and in the fossil organization $91,395.

Eligibility Factors

In order to be considered for this training program, a candidate must have two years of algebra 1 or higher at the high school or college level and must meet one of the criteria below:

  • Technical degree related to power production from a two- or four-year regionally accredited educational institution (i.e. SACS accreditation); or
  • Nontechnical degree from a two- or four-year regionally accredited educational institution (i.e., SACS accreditation); or
  • Formal craft apprenticeship (fossil only); or
  • Other equivalencies such as certain military training (related to the power industry) or completion of a certain number of college hours (which include technical classes); or
  • Other equivalencies that are evaluated on a one-on-one basis by recruiters.

Candidates for nuclear SGPO must also have completed chemistry and physics at the high school or college level.

Candidates who meet the qualifications for this position and who follow the process of applying may be asked to take a prequalifying test that predicts performance in training and on the job. Candidates must pass this test to be considered for an interview.  Read information about the testing process.

EEO Statement

TVA is an equal opportunity employer and complies with all applicable laws and regulations regarding equal employment opportunities. Any applicant or employee who believes s/he has a discrimination claim (including harassment or retaliation) must contact TVA’s equal opportunity compliance office within 45 calendar days of the event or action s/he believes to constitute discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

Non-U.S. residents should read TVA's citizenship policy.

Individuals interested in claiming veterans’ preference should read the information for claiming veterans’ preference.