How Do I Become a Refinery Operator?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2019
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A refinery operator is a person who works in a refinery, which is a facility that converts raw materials into useful products. The term is most often applied to people who work in the oil industry, though it can have other applications. If you want to become a refinery operator, you will first need to determine what area of refining you want to get into. Oil refinery jobs will have one set of required qualifications, while other jobs may have different qualification requirements. You will need to complete a high school education in order to become a refinery operator in most cases.

Once you finish high school, it is a wise decision to enroll in an associate's degree program that will train you for work as a refinery operator. The oil industry jobs will usually require this as a minimum level of experience or education, though in other cases, this may not be a requirement at all; it will simply make you more of a valuable job candidate. If you want to excel in the job and increase your chances of promotion or advancement, you may want to consider earning a bachelor's degree as well, though again, this is not always required.


You can become a refinery operator with just a high school diploma in some instances, and it is likely that you will need to take part in an apprenticeship program if you choose this route. An apprenticeship allows you to begin earning money by learning the skills you need on the job. You will work under the supervision and guidance of a more experienced refinery operator who can teach you the skills and techniques necessary to be successful in the position. The duration of such a position can vary, but you can expect to spend anywhere from one to five years as an apprentice, depending on the complexity of the job.

Once you become a refinery operator, you should expect to take part in ongoing training that will ensure you stay up to date on any certifications or safety training that is necessary to be eligible to work in a manufacturing setting. Some employers require operators to take part in periodic re-certification classes or other training sessions; if a new machine is installed in the refinery, the operators will need to take part in training focused specifically on the safe and effective operation of that new machine. Some operators are responsible for maintenance and repair of machines as well, which will require more training.


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