How to become a Chemical Plant Operator

Chemical plant operators control the operation of chemical production equipment used in processing minerals and in manufacturing a range of products such as drugs, textiles, ammunition and plastics.

Personal requirements of a Chemical Plant Operator

  • Enjoy practical and manual activities
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Able to follow written instructions
  • Good communication and numeracy skills
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Good problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Aptitude for working with computers
  • Good hand–eye coordination

Education & Training for a Chemical Plant Operator

You can work as a chemical plant operator without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. You can also become a chemical plant operator through a traineeship in Process Plant Operations or Process Plant Technology. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Chemical Plant Operator

Chemical plant operators may perform the following tasks:

  • prepare and measure raw materials
  • feed raw materials and processing agents into plant machinery
  • set controls and operate machinery
  • check instruments and equipment to ensure correct operation, and attend to any abnormal operating conditions
  • take samples for testing, test products and record process data.

Working conditions for a Chemical Plant Operator

Chemical plant operators may work in production areas that are noisy, hot, dusty and, at times, contain fumes. However, the work environments are generally spacious, ventilated and well lit. The majority of the work may be completed while standing. Shiftwork is sometimes required. Plant operators usually work in teams and must adhere to safety regulations due to the nature of the work. Protective equipment is supplied.

Employment Opportunities for a Chemical Plant Operator

Chemical plant operators are employed in industries that produce pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, plastics, paint, explosives, industrial gases, fertilisers and cosmetics, as well as in industries that process minerals and treat waste materials. In the minerals industry they are employed in onshore and offshore oil and gas wells or rigs, in refineries and in oil storage facilities (terminals). Employment opportunities depend on the profitability of these sectors, the price and quantity of similar chemicals imported from overseas, advancements in technology and government controls restricting the nature of by-products.


Chemical and Hydrocarbon Plant Technician

A chemical and hydrocarbon plant technician controls the operation of plant machinery and equipment to produce chemical products and to extract, refine and distribute hydrocarbon and oil products. They generally work at a more senior and more technical level to operators and will often be responsible for the supervision of staff.

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