A plant operator's primary role is to supervise and oversee operations in an industrial setting. They are responsible for controlling machinery and equipment, coordinating with fellow officers, monitoring the quality of progress among a particular unit or department, and maintaining daily operations records. A plant operator may also respond to inquiries and issues, perform basic troubleshooting, and provide corrective measures. Furthermore, a plant operator must conduct regular inspection and maintenance to ensure a safe work environment for everyone, all while implementing the plant's safety policies and regulations.

Plant Operator Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real plant operator resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Manage and operate the DCS system or control board.
  • Manage and perform preventive maintenance, electrical repairs, millwright work, and MSHA safety functions.
  • Maintain buildings HVAC / lighting automation systems and make adjustments as needed for tenant's comfort and to manage energy consumption.
  • Used basic math skills to calculate the weight of the ammonia by the price it are per ton.
  • Operate compressors, scrubbers, pipeline, pumps, coolers, and evaporators to liquefy or compress gas.
  • Maintain and repair all equipment involve in plant processes to keep within OSHA safety standards and EPA environmental codes.
  • Control operation of compressors, scrubbers, evaporators, and refrigeration equipment in order to liquefy and regasify natural gas.
  • Comply with all TCEQ and OSHA guidelines.
  • Oversee employees to make sure plant run efficently.
  • Prepare daily reports and MOR reports for TCEQ.
  • Monitor inlet pipeline pressures and outlet tailgate NGL pressures.
  • Climb to and work from elevate platforms ladders and walkways.
  • Skil in climbing ladders, using fork lifts and cutting torches.
  • Operate soot blowers to blow out flues during the night shift.
  • Collaborate with other operators to solve unit problems and troubleshoot plant issues.

Plant Operator Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 7% of Plant Operators are proficient in Plant Equipment, Plant Operations, and Preventative Maintenance. They’re also known for soft skills such as Analytical skills, Math skills, and Detail oriented.

We break down the percentage of Plant Operators that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Plant Equipment, 7%

    Trained to operate plant equipment and monitored daily refinery operations to optimize capacity, yield and efficiency.

  • Plant Operations, 6%

    Gained excellent understanding of manufacturing plant operations in the regulatory environment while making fine chemicals, fragrances, and pharmaceutical intermediates.

  • Preventative Maintenance, 5%

    Maintain a high standard of housekeeping in their workplace -Performs preventative maintenance on tools/equipment utilized in the production operations.

  • Boilers, 5%

    Controlled and maintained Boilers and Chiller machinery and all related auxiliary equipment.

  • Minor Maintenance, 4%

    General cleanup and minor maintenance to associated equipment.

  • Ladders, 4%

    Maintain quarterly inspection tags for ladders, fire extinguishers, slings, and PPE boxes etc.

Some of the skills we found on plant operator resumes included "plant equipment," "plant operations," and "preventative maintenance." We have detailed the most important plant operator responsibilities below.

  • Arguably the most important personality trait for a plant operator to have happens to be analytical skills. An example from a resume said this about the skill, "water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators must conduct tests and inspections on water or wastewater and evaluate the results." Additionally, other resumes have pointed out that plant operators can use analytical skills to "leveraged supervisory control and data acquisition systems to supervise entire range of plant operations, benchmarks, forecasts and real-time activity. "
  • Another commonly found skill for being able to perform plant operator duties is the following: math skills. According to a plant operator resume, "water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators must have the ability to apply data to formulas that determine treatment requirements, flow levels, and concentration levels." Check out this example of how plant operators use math skills: "used basic math skills to calculate the weight of the ammonia by the price it was per ton. "
  • Another skill that is quite popular among plant operators is detail oriented. This skill is very critical to fulfilling every day responsibilities as is shown in this example from a plant operator resume: "water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators must monitor machinery, gauges, dials, and controls to ensure everything is operating properly" This example from a resume shows how this skill is used: "maintained detailed logs of all plant operations and tapped into communication skills to communicate with staff across the plant. "
  • In order for certain plant operator responsibilities to be completed, the job requires the skill "mechanical skills." According to a plant operator resume, "water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators must know how to work with machines and use tools" As an example, this snippet was taken directly from a resume about how this skill applies: "operated and maintained various mechanical and control systems used to provide heating and cooling on a large campus environment. "
  • See the full list of plant operator skills.

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    What Water Technicians Do

    Typically working at water treatment facilities, a water technician specializes in installing and repairing equipment to ensure the good quality of water and consumers' safety. It is their duty to operate tools and equipment, gather and analyze samples to detect any contaminants, participate in adjusting chemical levels, and perform regular maintenance checks on machines to ensure efficiency. They must also keep records of all operations, producing progress reports as needed. Furthermore, it is essential to maintain an active communication line with co-workers for a smooth workflow.

    We looked at the average plant operator annual salary and compared it with the average of a water technician. Generally speaking, water technicians receive $3,974 lower pay than plant operators per year.

    Even though plant operators and water technicians have vast differences in their careers, a few of the skills required to do both jobs are similar. For example, both careers require safety procedures, hand tools, and scada in the day-to-day roles.

    As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because a plant operator responsibility requires skills such as "plant equipment," "plant operations," "preventative maintenance," and "boilers." Whereas a water technician is skilled in "customer service," "strong work ethic," "cleanliness," and "extraction." So if you're looking for what truly separates the two careers, you've found it.

    Water technicians tend to make the most money in the government industry by averaging a salary of $39,983. In contrast, plant operators make the biggest average salary of $47,234 in the finance industry.

    The education levels that water technicians earn is a bit different than that of plant operators. In particular, water technicians are 0.5% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree than a plant operator. Additionally, they're 0.1% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of a Stationary Engineer?

    Stationary Engineers are employees who are trained to operate machines and equipment. They mainly operate mechanical equipment, boilers, steam engines, and other stationary engines. They are also trained to conduct maintenance checks and basic repairs on such equipment. Stationary Engineers should be able to read gauges on the machines and assess the fuel levels. They are expected to monitor the machines and equipment and to track the operations. They are also expected to record and document the performance of the equipment. Sationary Engineers should know how to test the quality of the machines' outputs. This would help them manage the equipment.

    Now we're going to look at the stationary engineer profession. On average, stationary engineers earn a $26,466 higher salary than plant operators a year.

    Not everything about these jobs is different. Take their skills, for example. Plant operators and stationary engineers both include similar skills like "plant equipment," "plant operations," and "ladders" on their resumes.

    But both careers also use different skills, according to real plant operator resumes. While plant operator responsibilities can utilize skills like "preventative maintenance," "boilers," "minor maintenance," and "asphalt," some stationary engineers use skills like "preventive maintenance," "patients," "steam boilers," and "ventilation."

    Stationary engineers may earn a higher salary than plant operators, but stationary engineers earn the most pay in the health care industry with an average salary of $77,154. On the other side of things, plant operators receive higher paychecks in the finance industry where they earn an average of $47,234.

    In general, stationary engineers study at similar levels of education than plant operators. They're 1.6% more likely to obtain a Master's Degree while being 0.1% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a Water Treatment Specialist Compares

    A water treatment specialist is responsible for supervising and installing water treatment equipment and ensuring that neat water is available whenever it is needed. They must have a minimum of a high school diploma educational and a specialized water treatment certification. They need to pay attention to details and be organized to ensure that the safety and cleanliness of stored and available water are guaranteed.

    The water treatment specialist profession generally makes a higher amount of money when compared to the average salary of plant operators. The difference in salaries is water treatment specialists making $10,052 higher than plant operators.

    By looking over several plant operators and water treatment specialists resumes, we found that both roles utilize similar skills, such as "hvac," "water samples," and "cooling towers." But beyond that the careers look very different.

    Some important key differences between the two careers are a few of the skills necessary to fulfill responsibilities. Some examples from plant operator resumes include skills like "plant equipment," "plant operations," "preventative maintenance," and "boilers," whereas a water treatment specialist might be skilled in "environmental health," "waste water," "food products," and "water treatment equipment. "

    When it comes to education, water treatment specialists tend to earn similar education levels than plant operators. In fact, they're 1.7% more likely to earn a Master's Degree, and 0.4% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of a Plant Technician

    A plant technician is in charge of overseeing plant operations, ensuring everything runs smoothly and efficiently. Their responsibilities include installing and upgrading machines and equipment, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of existing systems, implementing solutions to vulnerable or problem areas, and developing strategies to optimize plant operations. They must also perform regular maintenance checks, conducting corrective measures and adjustments as needed. Furthermore, a plant technician must provide technical support to employees, all while implementing the company's policies and regulations.

    Plant technicians tend to earn a higher pay than plant operators by about $3,467 per year.

    While their salaries may vary, plant operators and plant technicians both use similar skills to perform their jobs. Resumes from both professions include skills like "plant equipment," "plant operations," and "ladders. "

    Each job requires different skills like "preventative maintenance," "boilers," "minor maintenance," and "safety rules," which might show up on a plant operator resume. Whereas plant technician might include skills like "preventive maintenance," "data collection," "troubleshoot," and "production equipment."

    In general, plant technicians make a higher salary in the utilities industry with an average of $56,591. The highest plant operator annual salary stems from the finance industry.

    Plant technicians reach similar levels of education when compared to plant operators. The difference is that they're 1.6% more likely to earn a Master's Degree more, and 0.4% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What a Plant Operator Does FAQs

    Do Plant Operators Make Good Money?

    No, plant operators do not make good money. The average plant operator earns $38,000 a year, with the top earners averaging between $60,000 and $80,000 a year.

    There are some companies and industries that pay plant operators better than others. A Marathon petroleum plant operator, for example, averages $80,084 a year (range: $43K - $91K), which is 71% higher than the national average.

    How Much Do Operators At Plants Make?

    Operators at plants make $38,000 a year, on average ($18.47 an hour). However, there is some variability in how much a plant operator can make, starting from as low as $27,000 a year to as high as $83,000 a year. Factors such as the location and industry impact how much an operator at a plant can make.

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