How to Become a Refinery Operator?

by Usama Chaudry on May 22, 2022

Refinery operators play a significant role in monitoring and controlling specialized machinery which treats and refines crude oil. Their job is physically demanding, with long shifts of 12 hours or more.

Those who want to pursue a career as a refinery operator must work well under pressure and possess excellent communication and problem-solving skills.

This article will give you clear, in-depth knowledge about the ways and steps to become a refinery operator

We will also discuss the job outlook and salary of this profession. Go on reading till the end to have all your related answers!

What Is a Refinery Operator?

First and foremost, it is critical to look into the meaning of refinery operator, especially if you are newly considering this career and have little or no knowledge.

A refinery operator monitors and operates the specialized machinery that converts crude oil into finished goods.

A refinery operator:

  • Operates equipment safely
  • Monitors meters and gauges
  • Meets production targets for a specific area
  • Reports to facility managers or other supervisors
  • Communicates frequently with coworkers, delivery employees, and other outside parties to ensure that required oil standards are met

How to Become a Refinery Operator – [Quick Steps]

Let’s dive into the step-by-step guide on how you can become a refinery operator:

  1. Determine your educational level
  2. Expand your professional experience
  3. Examine your career options
  4. Do an internship
  5. Create a strong resume

1. Determine Your Educational Level

First and foremost, you need to consider the refinery operator qualification level. It depends on the type of plant you want to work for, such as oil, metal, food, or chemical facilities.

Although some firms prefer to hire refinery operators with a bachelor’s degree, many in this field have only a high school diploma or a GED.

2. Expand Your Professional Experience

Refinery operators may also have worked in industries that need similar education and abilities. Jobs like these could help you gain sort of refining operator training:

  • Agricultural worker
  • Warehouse associate
  • Mechanic
  • Electrician
  • Construction worker
  • A gas station attendant

3. Examine Your Career Options

Within the field of refinery operations, there is room for advancement and progress, just as there is in many other professions. Consider your long-term ambitions in the sector before choosing a job as a refinery operator.

This will assist you in determining the degree of education and appropriate experience that will help you accomplish your career objectives the quickest. The following is an example of a refinery operator’s professional path:

Entry-Level Refinery Operator:

Usually requires high school graduation or an associate’s degree plus on-the-job training and experience.

Shift Supervisor:

This position typically requires three years of experience as a refinery operator plus prior management experience in a similar sector.

Maintenance Supervisor:

Usually takes five years of managerial experience at a refinery facility or a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a relevant field.

Maintenance Manager:

Often requires a minimum of 10 years as a maintenance supervisor or 10 years as a shift supervisor plus a graduate degree in a related field.

4. Do an Internship

After your degree, you must go for apprenticeships under the supervision of experienced refinery operators. This is beneficial for gaining hands-on experience in the workplace.

An internship provides on-the-job refining operator training as well as the opportunity to learn from those who have years of experience and skills in the role.

5. Create a Strong Resume

Finally, you need to create a fine resume for a refinery operator position. It will showcase your specific soft and technical skills, mechanical knowledge and ability, attention to detail, and ability to work in a team environment.

In your objective or professional summary, you can also highlight your knowledge of relevant refinery operations.

The work history section of your resume may also include detailed descriptions of your relevant experience and apprenticeships. All these things can increase the chances of your selection.

What Is the Job of a Refinery Operator?

As a beginner, you might be wondering what will be your regular duties as a refinery operator. Let’s discuss one by one:

1. Crude Oil Refinement

The ultimate obligation of a refinery operator is to refine crude oil into a specified product properly. This product must meet a set of requirements, whether it’s fuel, feedstock, or any other petroleum-based item.

Operators must be aware of working with various refining processes, such as hydrogenation, deodorizing, and bleaching.

2. Refinement Process Monitoring

Refinery operators continuously monitor and analyze all refinement equipment, machinery, and oil quality to ensure standards and successful output.

3. Keeping a Record of Data and Log Sheets

As the refining process is highly complicated, it is crucial to record correct operational data and preserve it at all times.

4. Shipping and Receiving Oil

A refining operator looks after the load-out process, i.e. shipping and receiving the crude and finished product. These procedures require meticulous planning and coordination to ensure that oil is properly handled, shipped, received, and stored.

5. Communicating with Coworkers

Oil refining is not a task for one individual. Plus, it requires careful preparation and cooperation with a variety of parties and pumping stations. A refinery operator must be able to communicate effectively with coworkers, facility managers, and delivery personnel.

What Skills Are Required to Become a Refinery Operator?

Being a successful Refinery Operator requires a diversified set of abilities, the majority of which are technical and knowledge-based. Here is a list of useful refinery operator skills and competencies:

  • Monitoring-Ability to monitor specialized equipment and all technical operations at refineries
  • Complex problem solving – Identifying and examining related information to design, analyze, and implement solutions to complex challenges
  • Critical thinking – Identifying the strengths and limitations of alternate solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems using logic and reasoning
  • Quality control analysis- Performing tests and inspections on items, services, or procedures to assess their quality or performance
  • Ability to lift and operate heavy machinery: A refinery operator’s job is physically demanding, requiring lengthy shifts of heavy lifting and machine work
  • System evaluation- Identifying system performance measures or indicators and the activities required to improve performance concerning the system’s goals
  • Communication skills- To execute tasks in a timely and productive manner, refinery operators must communicate successfully with others

What Is the Salary of Refinery Operators?

Now, you’re probably wondering how much money you can make as a refining operator. Don’t worry; we’ve got an answer for this as well. The refining operator’s salary is as handsome as any other profession.

Keep in mind that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies refinery operators in the general category of petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers.

The annual median wage for these professions is $77,610 or $37.31 per hour. These figures are consistent with salaries advertised on several job sites and employment boards for refinery operators.

Next up, we will look at the effective ways to become an energy trader to better understand the refining field.


In a nutshell, the refining sector, like any other career, has its own set of needs and prerequisites. We hope that you now have a thorough understanding of how to become a refining operator.

We have thoroughly investigated all of the conceivable concerns that anyone considering a career in the refining business would have. We recommend that you get as much information as possible before deciding on a career path. Best of luck to you!

Usama ChaudryUsama has a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alberta. Computations of electrical and thermal characteristics are among his research interests. Usama's hobbies outside of professional work include reading, playing tennis, and trekking.


The Primus Workforce team is proudly built on hands-on industry knowledge and experience.