Chemical Plant and System Operators

Bookmark Print History Journal


    • Please sign in to view journal entries

Your Employment History in this Occupation

Please sign in to view Employment History

Please fill out the fields below to e-mail someone a link to this page

Please sign in to bookmark occupations

About the Job

Control or operate entire chemical processes or system of machines.

It is also Called

  • Wash Operator
  • Utility Operator
  • Tower Operator
  • Switchboard Operator
  • Production Technician
  • Production Operator
  • Process Technician
  • Process Operator
  • Process Development Associate
  • Process Control Operator
View All

What They Do

  • Defrost frozen valves, using steam hoses.
  • Supervise the cleaning of towers, strainers, or spray tips.
  • Direct workers engaged in operating machinery that regulates the flow of materials and products.
  • Calculate material requirements or yields according to formulas.
  • Gauge tank levels, using calibrated rods.
  • Repair or replace damaged equipment.
  • Notify maintenance, stationary-engineering, or other auxiliary personnel to correct equipment malfunctions or to adjust power, steam, water, or air supplies.
  • 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.
  • Confer with technical and supervisory personnel to report or resolve conditions affecting safety, efficiency, or product quality.
  • Interpret chemical reactions visible through sight glasses or on television monitors and review laboratory test reports for process adjustments.


People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: RC.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Realistic interests, but also prefer Conventional environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Support, but also value Working Conditions and Independence in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Production and Processing - Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Education Required

These occupations usually require a high school diploma.


In 2016, the average annual wage in Pennsylvania was $54,130 with most people making between $31,980 and $78,320


avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 1,460 people in Pennsylvania. It is projected that there will be 1,460 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 0 openings due to growth and about 60 replacement openings for approximately 60 total annual openings.

Pennsylvania Department of Education