Chemical Plant and System Operators
SOC: 51-8091.00


Control or operate entire chemical processes or system of machines.

National Salary Information:

Hourly Statistics:

Annual Statistics:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data.

Employment Projections:

Employment (2014):
38,100 employed

Projected (2024):
34,600 employed

Projected growth (2014-2024)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

Alternate Titles:

  • Ammonia Still Operator
  • Ammonia Technician
  • Badger Distiller Operator
  • Bucket Wash Operator
  • Checker
  • Chemical Operator
  • Chemical Plant Operator
  • Chemical Treatment Plant Technician
  • Chief Operator
  • Denitrator
  • Development Associate
  • Furnace Process Plant Operator
  • Furnace Utility Operator
  • Hydrogenation Operator
  • Loader Technician
  • Machine Operator
  • Naphtha Washing System Operator
  • Nitric Acid Plant Operator
  • Nitrogen Operator
  • Operations Technician
  • Operator
  • Pharmaceutical Development Technician
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Machine Operator
  • Pharmaceutical Operator
  • Plant Associate
  • Pressure Controller
  • Process Control Operator
  • Process Development Associate
  • Process Operator
  • Process Technician
  • Production Operator
  • Production Technician
  • Switchboard Operator
  • Tower Operator
  • Utility Operator
  • Wash Operator

  • Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed


    Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.


    These occupations usually require a high school diploma.

    Job Training:

    Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

    Required Skills:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Critical Thinking
  • Active Learning
  • Learning Strategies
  • Monitoring
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Coordination
  • Persuasion
  • Negotiation
  • Instructing
  • Service Orientation
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Operations Analysis
  • Equipment Selection
  • Programming
  • Operation Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Troubleshooting
  • Repairing
  • Quality Control Analysis
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Systems Analysis
  • Systems Evaluation
  • Time Management
  • Management of Financial Resources
  • Management of Material Resources
  • Management of Personnel Resources

  • Knowledge Used:

  • Administration and Management
  • Clerical
  • Economics and Accounting
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Personnel and Human Resources
  • Production and Processing
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Design
  • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Education and Training
  • English Language
  • Philosophy and Theology
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Law and Government
  • Communications and Media
  • Transportation

  • Tasks:

  • Move control settings to make necessary adjustments on equipment units affecting speeds of chemical reactions, quality, or yields.
  • Monitor recording instruments, flowmeters, panel lights, or other indicators and listen for warning signals, to verify conformity of process conditions.
  • Control or operate chemical processes or systems of machines, using panelboards, control boards, or semi-automatic equipment.
  • Record operating data, such as process conditions, test results, or instrument readings.
  • Confer with technical and supervisory personnel to report or resolve conditions affecting safety, efficiency, or product quality.
  • Draw samples of products and conduct quality control tests to monitor processing and to ensure that standards are met.
  • Regulate or shut down equipment during emergency situations, as directed by supervisory personnel.
  • Start pumps to wash and rinse reactor vessels, to exhaust gases or vapors, to regulate the flow of oil, steam, air, or perfume to towers, or to add products to converter or blending vessels.
  • Interpret chemical reactions visible through sight glasses or on television monitors and review laboratory test reports for process adjustments.
  • Patrol work areas to ensure that solutions in tanks or troughs are not in danger of overflowing.
  • Notify maintenance, stationary-engineering, or other auxiliary personnel to correct equipment malfunctions or to adjust power, steam, water, or air supplies.
  • Inspect operating units, such as towers, soap-spray storage tanks, scrubbers, collectors, or driers to ensure that all are functioning and to maintain maximum efficiency.
  • Direct workers engaged in operating machinery that regulates the flow of materials and products.
  • Turn valves to regulate flow of products or byproducts through agitator tanks, storage drums, or neutralizer tanks.
  • Calculate material requirements or yields according to formulas.
  • Gauge tank levels, using calibrated rods.
  • Repair or replace damaged equipment.
  • Defrost frozen valves, using steam hoses.
  • Supervise the cleaning of towers, strainers, or spray tips.

  • Tools & Technology:

  • Agitator tanks
  • Air conditioning systems
  • Axial flow fans
  • Barometers
  • Belt conveyors
  • Blending vessels
  • Boilers
  • Bourdon tubes
  • Bucket elevators
  • Calibrated rods
  • Capacitance probes
  • Centrifugal compressors
  • Centrifugal fans
  • Centrifugal pumps
  • Chain conveyors
  • Chemical reactor vessels
  • Collectors
  • Control boards
  • Converter vessels
  • Conveyor feeders
  • Cooling towers
  • Desktop computers
  • Digital surface thermometers
  • Display screens
  • Distillation columns
  • Effluent treatment systems
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Gas analyzers
  • Heating vessels
  • Hoppers
  • Humidifiers
  • Hydraulic accumulators
  • Industrial dryers
  • Industrial fans
  • Industrial liquid flowmeters
  • Manometers
  • Mixing tanks
  • Neutralizer tanks
  • Panel lights
  • Panelboards
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Positive displacement pumps
  • Pressure gauges
  • Radiographic detecting instruments
  • Reciprocating compressors
  • Reciprocating pumps
  • Recording calorimeters
  • Refrigeration systems
  • Rotary pumps
  • Screw conveyors
  • Silencers
  • Soap-spray storage tanks
  • Steam hoses
  • Steam turbines
  • Storage drums
  • Tensometers
  • Thermocouple temperature probes
  • Thermocouples
  • Viscometers
  • Wet scrubbers
  • Alarm management system software
  • Coordinated incident management system CIMS software
  • Distributed control systems DCS software
  • Interlock shutdown systems
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Microsoft Word

  • production

    industry stats

    SOC: 51-0000

    Total Employed: 9,073,290

    Average Annual Salary: $36,220