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Chemical plant process operator

Alternative titles for this job include Chemical process operator, chemical plant worker, chemical plant operator

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

Average salary (a year)

£18,000 Starter


£37,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

40 to 44 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends on shifts

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Chemical plant process operator

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


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


You could get into this job through an apprenticeship, for example:

  • Science Manufacturing Process Operative Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship
  • Polymer Processing Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship
  • Science Manufacturing Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship

These apprenticeships can take between 18 months and 3 years to complete.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced 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.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

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

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

On a typical day you could:

  • set up production machinery
  • mix and load raw materials into tanks
  • read instruments and make adjustments to settings
  • take samples and record data to monitor quality
  • pack and store finished batches
  • stock control
  • clean and maintain machinery
  • report problems
  • follow 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

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

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.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Process Operative Apprentice

  • Wage: £22,310 a year Annually
  • Location: Beetham, Milnthorpe, Cumbria

Polymer Processing Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £20,276 a year Annually
  • Location: Stonedale Road, Stonehouse

Courses In England

Science Manufacturing Process Operative Apprenticeship, Level 2

  • Start date: 01 September 2024
  • Location: Not known

Applied Science

  • Start date: 01 September 2024
  • Location: London

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