Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators
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.
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
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Informal or on-the-job
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers:
- is expected to grow moderately
- is likely to reach 9,900 by 2026.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 95% of people employed as Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 29 percentage points above the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 51 hours per week in their main job. This is 7 hours more than the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
More than a third of workers regularly work overtime or extra hours (either paid or unpaid).
Median full-time earnings are $2,848 per week, this is much higher than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $1,992
- 1 in 4 earn more than $3,834
Median hourly earnings are $70, this is much more than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Overtime hours: ABS, Characteristics of Employment, 2021. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. 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.
Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators work in industries like:
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators||All Jobs Average|
Around 56% of Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators live outside of capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 38%.
Western Australia and Queensland have a large share of employment relative to their population size.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Chemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Plant Operators is 45 years. This is higher than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 45 to 54 years.
Females make up 4% of the workforce. This is 44 percentage points below the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||1.8||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
Formal qualifications are not essential to work as a Chemical, Gas, Petroleum or Power Generation Plant Operator. Although most workers have a certificate III or IV in process plant operations or another related field.
- My Skills to compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes.
- AAPathways website to explore Resources and Infrastructure Industry, Gas Industry, National Water Industry, Chemical, Hydrocarbons & Refining, Electricity Supply Industry - Generation Sector VET training pathways.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Chemical, Gas, Petroleum & Power Plant Operators||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||1.9||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||9.7||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Boat Builders and Shipwrights who are reliable, work well in a team and have a strong work ethic.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
54%Operation and control
Controlling equipment or systems.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Reading work related information.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
45%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
45%Quality control analysis
Doing tests and checking products, services, or processes to make sure they are working properly.
Figuring out why a machine or system went wrong and working out what to do about it.
Fixing machines or systems.
Talking to others.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
43%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
43%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Maintaining equipment and deciding what maintenance will be needed in the future.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
Deciding on the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
The physical laws of matter, motion and energy, and how they interact through space and time.
42%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
41%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change.
38%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
34%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
32%Engineering and technology
Use engineering, science and technology to design and produce goods and services.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
30%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
23%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
21%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
19%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
Moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road.
17%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
Design techniques, tools, and principles used to make detailed technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
13%Economics and accounting
Economics and accounting, the financial markets, banking and checking and reporting of financial data.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Listen to and understand what people say.
Communicate by speaking.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Use your eyes to quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
46%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Read and understand written information.
Pay attention to a certain sound when there are other distracting sounds.
Quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
Put together small parts with your fingers.
45%Flexibility of closure
See a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) hidden in other distracting material.
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
See details that are far away.
Do two or more things at the same time.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Write in a way that people can understand.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
76%Controlling equipment or machines
Operating machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).
70%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
67%Checking for errors or defects
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.
66%Handling and moving objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, moving and manipulating objects.
66%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
63%Doing physically active work
Use your arms, legs and whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling objects.
62%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
59%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
59%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
58%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
57%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
55%Working with computers
Using computers to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
55%Working with mechanical equipment
Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment.
54%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
53%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
53%Documenting or recording information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
52%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
47%Assessing and evaluating things
Working out the value, importance, or quality of things, services or people.
45%Making sense of information and ideas
Looking at, working with, and understanding data or information.
43%Driving vehicles or equipment
Running, manoeuvring, navigating, or driving things like forklifts, vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
Interests and demands
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.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
100%Wear common protective or safety equipment
Wear equipment like safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets.
98%Loud or uncomfortable sounds
Be exposed to noises and sounds that are distracting or uncomfortable.
Work near dangers like high voltage electricity, flammable material, explosives or chemicals.
Talk with people face-to-face.
93%Indoors, not heat controlled
Work indoors without heating or cooling (e.g., warehouse without heat).
90%Consequence of error
Work where mistakes have serious consequences.
90%Exposure to contaminants
Be exposed to pollutants, gases, dust or odours.
90%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
88%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
87%Very hot or cold temperatures
Work in very hot or cold temperatures.
87%Health and safety of others
Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.
Work near dangerous equipment like saws, machinery with open moving parts, or moving traffic.
85%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
Talk on the telephone.
83%Work at heights
Work in high places (e.g., on poles, scaffolding, catwalks, or ladders).
Work with people in a group or team.
82%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
81%Outdoors, exposed to weather
Work outdoors, exposed to the weather.
81%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
78%Using your hands to handle, control, or feel
Spend time using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and 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.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.