Chemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Generation Plant Operators control the operation of chemical production equipment, pump gas and oil from wellheads, refine and process petroleum products, and operate boilers, turbogenerators and associated plant to generate electrical power.

A Certificate III including at least 2 years of on-the-job training, or a Certificate IV, or at least 3 years of relevant experience, is usually needed. Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification. Registration or licensing may be required.

Tasks

  • controlling equipment performing continuous and batch processes to process chemicals and natural gas, manufacture refined petroleum products, and blend petroleum base stocks to produce commercial fuels, lubricating oils and asphalt
  • controlling the preparation, measuring and feeding of raw material and processing agents such as catalysts and filtering media into plant
  • patrolling and inspecting equipment to ensure proper operation and setting operating controls on equipment
  • analysing samples and readings and recording test data
  • controlling records of production, quantities transferred and details of blending and pumping operations
  • checking equipment for malfunctions and arranging maintenance
  • operating power generation plant controls to produce required load
  • monitoring operation of power generation plant and interpreting instrument readings
  • authorising procedures to isolate high-voltage and low-voltage electrical apparatus and plant
  • writing reports and maintaining records on equipment performance, instrument readings and switching operations
  • carrying out routine operating tests

Job Titles

  • Chemical Plant Operator
  • Gas or Petroleum Operator
  • Power Generation Plant Operator
  • Chemical Plant Operator

    Controls the operation of chemical production plant.

    Specialisations: Chemicals Distiller, Chemicals Fermentation Operator, Industrial Gas Production Operator, Paint Maker, Pharmaceutical Plant Operator, Pilot Plant Operator

  • Gas or Petroleum Operator (also called: Oil and Gas Well Treatment Operator; Oil, Gas and Pipe Tester; or Petroleum and Gas Refining and Pumping Operator)

    Operates equipment to pump oil and gas from wellheads, and refine and process petroleum products.

    Specialisations: Gas Compressor Turbine Operator, Petroleum Blending Plant Operator, Petroleum Terminal Plant Operator, Refinery Pipeline Operator

  • Power Generation Plant Operator

    Operates boilers, turbogenerators and associated plant to generate electrical power. Registration or licensing is required.

    Specialisations: Hydro-electric Station Operator, Power Generation Turbine Room Operator

Fast Facts

  • Avg. Weekly Pay

    $2,023 Before Tax
  • Future Growth

    stable
  • Skill Level

    Certificate III or IV
  • Employment Size

    10,400
  • Unemployment

    above average
  • Male Share

    97.6%
  • Female Share

    2.4%
  • Full-Time Share

    98.9%

Find Vacancies

This is a small occupation employing 10,400 workers. Over the past 5 years the number of jobs has grown.
Little change in the number of jobs is expected in the future. New jobs and turnover from workers leaving may create between 5,001 and 10,000 job openings over the 5 years to 2020.

  • While there are jobs in many parts of Australia, Victoria and Western Australia have a large share of Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators.
  • They mainly work in: Manufacturing; Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services; and Mining.
  • Almost all work full-time. Full-time workers, on average, work 39.2 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
  • Average earnings for full-time workers are around $2,023 per week (very high compared to the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • The workforce is fairly mature. The average age is 47 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years) and around 5 in 10 workers are aged 45 years or older.
  • More than 9 in 10 workers are male.
  • In 2016, the unemployment rate was above average.

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.
YearNumber of Workers
20059200
20068500
20079400
200810100
20097700
20109700
201110600
20129800
20139400
20148600
201510400
202010100

Weekly Earnings

Full-time Earnings

All Jobs Average

Weekly Earnings (before tax)

Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
EarningsChemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Plant OperatorsAll Jobs Average
Full-Time Earnings20231230

Hours

Weekly Hours Worked

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Hours actually worked by people who usually work full-time, and share of employment by full-time and part-time status, for this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryChemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Plant OperatorsAll Jobs Average
Full-time98.968.4
Part-time1.131.6
Average Weekly Hours (full-time)39.240.0

Main Industries

Top Industries

Main Employing Industries (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Manufacturing37.8
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services30.5
Mining24.3
Wholesale Trade3.4
Other Industries4.0

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StateChemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Plant OperatorsAll Jobs Average
NSW20.831.8
VIC36.225.5
QLD18.419.8
SA3.26.8
WA17.311.2
TAS1.82.0
NT1.81.1
ACT0.31.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketChemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Plant OperatorsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-190.0-5.45.4
20-244.8-9.99.9
25-3421.7-23.423.4
35-4419.8-21.721.7
45-5439.5-21.121.1
55-5910.2-8.78.7
60-644.1-5.95.9
65 and Over0.0-3.83.8

Gender

Male Share

Female Share

Gender (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Male and female share of employment in this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryChemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Plant OperatorsCategoryAll Jobs Average
Males97.6Males53.6
Females2.4Females46.4

Education Level

Top Education Levels

Highest Level of Education (% share)

Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Type of QualificationChemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Plant OperatorsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate0.0-8.68.6
Bachelor degree11.3-17.917.9
Advanced Diploma/Diploma22.7-10.110.1
Certificate III/IV25.5-18.918.9
Year 1221.3-18.718.7
Years 11 & 1019.1-17.717.7
Below Year 100.0-8.18.1

A Certificate III including at least 2 years of on-the-job training, or a Certificate IV, or at least 3 years of relevant experience, is usually needed. Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification. Registration or licensing may be required.

If you are interested in this style of work, there are a wide range of training options available that could lead to this or a similar job.
The pathway that is right for you will depend on your skills and interests.

It is a good idea to speak to industry bodies, employers, and workers to learn more about the skills and qualifications you will need.

Employers look for Boat Builders and Shipwrights who are reliable, work well in a team and have a strong work ethic.

Knowledge

The topics, subjects, or knowledge areas workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Mechanical

    63% Important

    Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

  2. English Language

    55% Important

    English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

  3. Public Safety and Security

    55% Important

    Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.

  4. Mathematics

    55% Important

    Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.

  5. Production and Processing

    55% Important

    Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.

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Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

Activities

The work activities workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Controlling Machines and Processes

    88% Important

    Operate machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).

  2. Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material

    86% Important

    Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.

  3. Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events

    85% Important

    Comparing objects, actions, or events, looking for differences between them or changes over time.

  4. Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings

    84% Important

    Checking objects, actions, or events, keeping an eye out for problems.

  5. Getting Information

    82% Important

    Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.

Occupational Information Network Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

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