The on-site power generation industry currently employs 1,800 to 2,200 technicians in the United States, but with two back-to-back unusually active hurricane seasons in the Southeast raising awareness of the need for back-up power generators, the industry is now operating with a deficit of workers, according to Leo LeBlanc, chairman of the technician certification committee for the Electrical Generating Systems Association (EGSA). LeBlanc says the industry currently has 750 job openings. So where do you go to find a qualified technician to work on all these units?

Although there are nearly 20 schools and training programs nationally dedicated to educating those in the on-site power generation industry, no national certification standards existed for generator technicians — until now. This month, proctors across the nation will administer the first Electrical Generator Systems Technician Certification exams through a program with Ferris State University in cooperation with EGSA.

The 250-question comprehensive exam covers topics such as basic electricity, generators/alternators, instrumentation and controls, automatic transfer switches, voltage regulators, and auxiliary support systems.

“For the first time, we have standards in this industry through which we can measure proficiency, so that somebody in Maine will be measured by the same standards as somebody in Texas,” says George Rowley, EGSA director of education.

No prerequisites are required to take the exam, but LeBlanc recommends a minimum of three to four years of field experience. While there are no formal test preparation materials available at this time, Rowley says the 500-page “On-Site Power Generation: A Reference Book” is a useful study tool.

The exam fee is $160 for EGSA members or employees of member companies, and $425 for all other applicants. A score of 80% is required to obtain certification, and the test must be retaken every five years to maintain certification.

For more information, visit the organization's Web site at www.egsa.org.