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

  • $2,023 Weekly Pay
  • 8,700 workers Employment Size
  • Stable Future Growth
  • Medium skill Skill level rating
  • Lower unemployment Unemployment
  • 96.9% Full-Time Full-Time Share
  • 42.5 hours Average full-time
  • 46.5 years Average age
  • 1.3% female Gender Share

The number of Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators is about the same as 5 years ago and is expected to stay about the same over the next 5 years:
from 8,700 in 2018 to 8,700 by 2023.
Job openings can come from new jobs being created, but most come from turnover (workers leaving).
There are likely to be around 5,000 job openings over 5 years (that's about 1,000 a year).

  • Size: This is a small occupation.
  • Unemployment: Unemployment was below average in 2017.
  • Location: Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators work in most regions of Australia.
  • Industries: Most work in Manufacturing; Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services; and Mining.
  • Earnings: Full-time workers earn 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.
  • Full-time: Most work full-time (96.9%, much higher than the all jobs average of 68.4%) showing part-time work may be hard to find.
  • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 42.5 hours per week at work (compared to the all jobs average of 40.0 hours).
  • Age: The average age is 47 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years). Many workers are 45 years or older (60.2%).
  • Gender: 1.3% of workers are female (compared to the all jobs average of 46.7%).

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2018 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2023.
YearNumber of Workers
20088700
20098800
20109300
201110100
201211000
20138900
20149800
20159100
201610400
201711700
20188700
20238700

Weekly Earnings

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

Main Industries

Main Employing Industries (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, 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)
Manufacturing32.6
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services28.1
Mining26.0
Wholesale Trade7.7
Other Industries5.6

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 2017, 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
NSW19.131.6
VIC23.726.2
QLD28.419.7
SA4.36.7
WA18.810.8
TAS1.32.0
NT3.81.1
ACT0.71.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, 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
15-190.0-5.25.2
20-240.0-9.99.9
25-3415.6-23.623.6
35-4424.2-21.721.7
45-5440.8-20.820.8
55-599.0-8.88.8
60-646.5-6.06.0
65 and Over3.9-4.04.0

Education Level

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 Certificate0-8.68.6
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 100-8.18.1

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.

Before starting a course, check it will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need.

  • Compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes on the QILT website.
  • Compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes on the My Skills website.
  • You might be interested in Resources and Infrastructure Industry, Gas Industry, National Water Industry, Chemical, Hydrocarbons & Refining, Electricity Supply Industry - Generation Sector VET training pathways on the AAPathways website.

The course listings on this page are provided by Good Education Group.

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

Knowledge

These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.

  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.

Occupational Information Network
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 51-8013.00 - Power Plant Operators.

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

These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.

  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
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 51-8013.00 - Power Plant Operators.

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