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Career profile Chemical Operator

Also known as Chemical Operator, Chlorination Operator, Multiskill Operator, Outside Operator, Process Operator, Spray Dry Operator, Vessel Operator

Chemical Operator

Also known as Chemical Operator, Chlorination Operator, Multiskill Operator

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$30,200 - $81,730 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
  • Monitoring
Knowledge Areas
  • Production and Processing
  • Chemistry
  • Mechanical
Core tasks
  • Record operational data, such as temperatures, pressures, ingredients used, processing times, or test results.
  • Observe safety precautions to prevent fires or explosions.
  • Control or operate equipment in which chemical changes or reactions take place during the processing of industrial or consumer products.
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What does a Chemical Operator do?

Chemical Operators operate or tend equipment to control chemical changes or reactions in the processing of industrial or consumer products.

In addition, Chemical Operators equipment used includes devulcanizers, steam-jacketed kettles, and reactor vessels.

What kind of tasks does a Chemical Operator perform regularly?

Chemical Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Record operational data, such as temperatures, pressures, ingredients used, processing times, or test results.
  • Observe safety precautions to prevent fires or explosions.
  • Control or operate equipment in which chemical changes or reactions take place during the processing of industrial or consumer products.
  • Patrol work areas to detect leaks or equipment malfunctions or to monitor operating conditions.
  • Draw samples of products at specified stages so that analyses can be performed.
  • Adjust controls to regulate temperature, pressure, feed, or flow of liquids or gases and times of prescribed reactions, according to knowledge of equipment and processes.
  • Monitor gauges, recording instruments, flowmeters, or products to ensure that specified conditions are maintained.
  • Inspect equipment or units to detect leaks or malfunctions, shutting equipment down, if necessary.
  • Test product samples for specific gravity, chemical characteristics, pH levels, concentrations, or viscosities, or send them to laboratories for testing.
  • Open valves or start pumps, agitators, reactors, blowers, or automatic feed of materials.
  • Implement appropriate industrial emergency response procedures.
  • Read plant specifications to determine products, ingredients, or prescribed modifications of plant procedures.
  • Measure, weigh, and mix chemical ingredients, according to specifications.
  • Dump or scoop prescribed solid, granular, or powdered materials into equipment.
  • Notify maintenance engineers of equipment malfunctions.
  • Estimate materials required for production and manufacturing of products.
  • Add treating or neutralizing agents to products, and pump products through filters or centrifuges to remove impurities or to precipitate products.
  • Observe and compare colors and consistencies of products to instrument readings and to laboratory and standard test results.
  • Drain equipment, and pump water or other solutions through to flush and clean tanks or equipment.
  • Direct activities of workers assisting in control or verification of processes or in unloading of materials.
  • Flush or clean equipment, using steam hoses or mechanical reamers.
  • Make minor repairs, lubricate, and maintain equipment, using hand tools.
  • Inventory supplies received and consumed.

The above responsibilities are specific to Chemical Operators. More generally, Chemical Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).

What is a Chemical Operator salary?

The median salary for a Chemical Operator is $50,510, and the average salary is $53,330. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Chemical Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Chemical Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Chemical Operators earn less than $30,200 per year, 25% earn less than $38,200, 75% earn less than $66,650, and 90% earn less than $81,730.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Chemical Operators is expected to change by -5.2%, and there should be roughly 8,600 open positions for Chemical Operators every year.

Median annual salary
$50,510
Typical salary range
$30,200 - $81,730
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
-5.2%

What personality traits are common among Chemical Operators?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Chemical Operator are usually higher in their Realistic interests.

Chemical Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Chemical Operator tend to value Support, Independence, and Relationships.

Most importantly, Chemical Operators very strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Chemical Operators moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Chemical Operators moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Chemical Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Chemical Operators, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

What education and training do Chemical Operators need?

Working as a Chemical Operator usually requires a high school diploma.

Chemical Operators need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Chemical Operators

  • 5.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 32.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 25.7% completed some college coursework
  • 9.6% earned a Associate's degree
  • 22.5% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 4.2% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Chemical Operators

Chemical Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as production and processing, chemistry, or mechanical knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Chemical Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

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.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Important Abilities needed by Chemical Operators

Chemical Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Chemical Operators need abilities such as problem sensitivity, oral comprehension, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Chemical Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Critical Skills needed by Chemical Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Chemical Operators frequently use skills like operations monitoring, operation and control, and monitoring to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Chemical Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
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.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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