Chemical Plant Machine Operators

Occupation:Machine Operators in Chemical Plants and Plastics Processing
Category:Manufacturing and Utilities

About the job

Nature of work:

This group includes many machine-related jobs that require some skill and are generally performed inside a building. These workers assist with repairs and maintenance of machinery; handle materials; monitor machine operations; and clean work areas.

Chemical plant machine operators monitor and operate units and machinery to blend, mix, process, and package a wide range of specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cleaning and toiletry products. They are primarily employed in chemical, cleaning compound, ink and adhesive industries, but may also be employed by chemical processing departments in other industries.

Plastics processing machine operators set up and operate plastic mixing, calendaring, extruding, and moulding processing machines used in the manufacture of plastic parts and plastic products. They are employed by plastic products manufacturing companies.

Job duties:
Chemical plant machine operators perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Monitor meters, gauges and electronic instrumentation on one or more chemical or formulation units, such as mixers, kettles, blenders, dryers, tabletting, encapsulation, granulation and coating machines.
  • Measure, weigh and load chemical ingredients following formulation cards.
  • Start up, shut down, troubleshoot and clean equipment.
  • Adjust processing machines and equipment.
  • Monitor reaction processes and transfers of products in conformance with safety procedures.
  • Take samples and perform routine chemical and physical tests of products.
  • Record production data.
  • May operate equipment from a control room or from control consoles located near the production units.
Plastics processing machine operators perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Set up and operate machines.
  • Adjust equipment for production line change.
  • Monitor operation and regulate material supply Operate controls to regulate temperature, speed, and other processing conditions.
  • Maintain and perform minor repairs on machinery as required.
  • Maintain inventory of material and clean working area.
  • Monitor quality of material produced.
Sample job titles:
  • chemical plant machine operator
  • cosmetics and perfume maker
  • fibreglass machine operator - plastic manufacturing
  • machine operator - plastics processing
  • mixer - chemical processing
  • moulder - chemical processing
  • packaging machine operator - chemical processing
  • press operator - plastic manufacturing
  • solution mixer operator - plastic manufacturing

To work in these jobs, you should be responsible, alert, and in good physical health. Coordination, agility, and a mechanical aptitude are important. You must also be able to take direction and carry out instructions given by a supervisor.

To work as a water/wastewater operator completion of secondary school is required and on-the-job training is provided. A combination of education and experience is required for certification. For other jobs in this group the completion of secondary school is usually required and on-the-job training is provided.

Job requirements:
  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • On-the-job training is usually provided.
  • Completion of formal and informal company training may be required for some positions.
  • Completion of specialized courses may be required for some positions.
  • Certification in the transportation of dangerous goods (TDG), first aid, firefighting or workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS) may be required for some jobs in this group.
Other considerations:

Previous experience as an assistant, helper, tender or packer, often in the same company, may be required as an entry point to these positions. Mobility between employers producing similar products is possible particularly for some of the higher skilled operators in this grouping. Progression to supervisory positions or to process control jobs is possible with experience. Personal protective equipment may be required when working with some types of chemicals or pharmaceuticals.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Fair

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “average”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is comparable to the average for all occupations in Nova Scotia. This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow moderately over the next few years, which will likely provide some additional opportunities for employment. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Machine Operators in Chemical Plants and Plastics Processing most commonly work full-time hours.

The median employment income for 74% of Machine Operators in Chemical Plants and Plastics Processing who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $40,963. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Chemical Plant Machine Operators365Moderate growth60Moderate
Minimum: $12.50
Median: $15.35
Maximum: $25.00
Minimum: $13,813
Median: $39,466
Maximum: $62,013
All NS Occupations427,305Weak growth33,315Moderate
Minimum: $11.00
Median: $19.89
Maximum: $40.00
Minimum: $2,872
Median: $29,983
Maximum: $83,126
Chemical Plant Machine OperatorsCompared to: All NS Occupations
Percent employed full-time95%78%
Percent self-employed7%10%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentChemical Plant Machine OperatorsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton11%x13%$32,974
Annapolis Valley15%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeChemical Plant Machine OperatorsCompared to: All Manufacturing and Utilities
% Employed% Employed
Median Agex45
GenderChemical Plant Machine OperatorsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% Employed% Employed
EducationChemical Plant Machine OperatorsCompared to: All Manufacturing and Utilities
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school15.2%$70,90722.9%$21,011
High school48.8%$72,94238.1%$28,358
Trades certificate10.4%$91,03212.4%$37,356
College certificate or diploma20.7%$87,18820.3%$36,968
University certificate or diplomaN/Ax1.1%$35,915
Bachelor's degree4.9%x4.4%$36,852
University advanced certificate or diploma1.2%x0.3%$55,581
Master's degreeN/Ax0.5%x
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryN/Ax0.1%N/A
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile
Useful contacts:
Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Occupational Health and Safety Division
PO Box 697, 5151 Terminal Road
Halifax, NS B3J 2T8
Tel: (902) 424-5300

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Adult high school/secondary diploma programs
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the high school level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that defines the prescribed requirements, specified by the appropriate jurisdiction, for the completion of and graduation from a secondary school program of academic subject matter offered for adult learners outside of the regular secondary school program. This does not include adult compensatory education programs resulting in completion of a high school equivalency certificate or diploma.
See all institutions providing this program+
Universite Sainte-Anne
Siège Social: 1695, Route 1
Pointe-de-l'Église, NS B0W 1M0
(902) 769-2114
Nova Scotia Community College - Annapolis Valley Campus
50 Elliott Road
Lawrencetown, NS B0S 1M0
(902) 825-3491
Nova Scotia Community College - Cumberland Campus
PO Box 550, 1 Main Street
Springhill, NS B0M 1X0
(902) 597-3737
Nova Scotia Community College - Akerley Campus
21 Woodlawn Road
Dartmouth, NS B2W 2R7
(902) 491-4900
Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus
372 Pleasant Street
Yarmouth, NS B5A 2L2
(902) 742-3501
Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus
236 Belcher Street
Kentville, NS B4N 0A6
(902) 678-7341
Nova Scotia Community College - Lunenburg Campus
75 High Street
Bridgewater, NS B4V 1V8
(902) 543-4608
Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus
5685 Leeds Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2T3
(902) 491-6722
Nova Scotia Community College - Pictou Campus & School of Fisheries
PO Box 820, 39 Acadia Avenue
Stellarton, NS B0K 1S0
(902) 752-2002
Nova Scotia Community College - Shelburne Campus
PO Box 760, 1575 Lake Road
Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0
(902) 875-8640
Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute
226 Reeves Street
Port Hawkesbury, NS B9A 2A2
(902) 625-2380
Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus
PO Box 1042, 1240 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6J7
(902) 563-2450
Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus
36 Arthur Street
Truro, NS B2N 1X5
(902) 893-5385
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