Chemical plant process operator

Chemical process operator, chemical plant worker, chemical plant operator

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Chemical plant process operators control machinery that makes chemical products, like paints, cleaning fluids and cosmetics.

Salary range: £15,000 to £25,000

How to become a chemical plant process operator

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly

College

You could take a college course, which would give you some of the skills and knowledge needed in the job, for example:

  • Level 1 Certificate in Applied Science
  • Level 2 Diploma in Process Technology

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course
  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course

More information

Apprenticeship

You can get into this job through a science manufacturing process operative intermediate apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information

Direct application

You can apply directly for jobs. Some employers may ask for GCSEs in maths, English, IT and a science subject, or equivalent qualifications.

You may be asked to take a maths test along with other assessments, and pass a medical at the interview stage.

More information

Career tips

Previous experience in the manufacturing and processing industries would be an advantage.

A forklift truck certificate may be useful.

Further information

You can find more on careers in the chemicals industry from Cogent Skills.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • observation and recording skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • the ability to operate and control equipment
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • setting up production machinery
  • mixing and loading raw materials into tanks
  • reading instruments and making adjustments to settings
  • taking samples and recording data to monitor quality
  • packing and storing finished batches
  • stock control
  • cleaning and maintaining machinery
  • reporting problems
  • following strict health and safety guidelines

Working environment

You could work in an office, in a laboratory or at a manufacturing plant.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into quality control, lab work, maintenance or shift management.

With further study, you could become a process technician.

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