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Gas Plant Operator

Gas plant operators control automated processes that convert raw natural gas into forms consumers can use.

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 9232: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators

2006 NOC-S

  • J112: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators

2011 NOC

  • 9232: Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators

2016 NOC

  • 9232: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing

2021 NOC

  • 93101: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing

2023 OaSIS

  • 93101.00: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Gas plant operators take care of the day-to-day operation of natural gas plants. They monitor all the units in the plant to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Gas plant operators’ duties vary depending on the size of the plant. Large facilities often require more operators and their jobs are specialized. Smaller gas plants may require fewer people who each have a wider range of duties.

Junior operators, sometimes called trainee operators, work in units in gas plants. For example, they may work in the sulphur handling unit where sulphur is removed. Or they may work in the treating unit where water and impurities are removed and the gas is separated into components. Under the direction of unit operators, junior operators:

  • Perform regular checks of their unit
  • Keep records of temperatures, pressures, concentrations and flows
  • Record various data in spread sheets and online tracking systems
  • Perform basic tests on the gas and chemicals at different processing stages
  • Test air samples for signs of gas or chemical leaks
  • Make adjustments to maintain the process or correct problems
  • Perform minor equipment maintenance and repair tasks
  • Assist in equipment maintenance such as changing oils and parts
  • Check chemical pump rates
  • Supervise loading and unloading of various methanols, glycols, solvents and oils
  • Ensure that flammable and other potentially dangerous products are in safe locations
  • Clean equipment and buildings
  • Assist in vessel clean-outs
  • Do site rounds to inspect tanks, fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems

Unit operators ensure that an entire unit operates smoothly. They train and supervise junior operators and assist with or conduct equipment inspections. They are also in charge of:

  • Starting up and shutting down plant equipment
  • Reviewing and compiling records taken by junior operators
  • Maintaining equipment and making minor repairs or requesting repair and maintenance work
  • Running product and boiler tests
  • Monitoring controls
  • Helping junior operators solve problems
  • Assuring the safety of others in their areas

Senior operators, sometimes called chief operators or lead hands, are in charge of operating several units. They usually are the most experienced operators on their shift. Senior operators spend most of their time working in a control room. They monitor numerous control panels, charts and an alarm system that sounds when a problem occurs. If adjustments need to be made in a unit, or an alarm goes off, senior operators call the unit operators concerned and outline the necessary procedures.

In sour gas plants, operators are trained in emergency evacuation and firefighting procedures.

Much of the work in gas plant operations is routine. Gas plant operators may go for long periods of time without a problem and then a serious failure or complication may occur. When this happens, operators must analyze the problem and act quickly and correctly.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Depending on the design of the plant, junior operators may spend about half of their time outdoors. Their job requires a lot of walking and lifting. Unit operators spend most of their time indoors but may be required to work outside when problems arise with outdoor equipment. Senior operators spend much of their time in the control room.

Gas plants operate 24 hours a day so operators work 8- or 12-hour shifts. They may need to work long hours to complete special tasks. Operators must follow safety precautions to avoid injuries resulting from exposure to toxic chemicals and gases.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators

2006 NOC: 9232

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in controlling process start-up, shut-down and troubleshooting; and in operating electronic or computerized control panels from a central control room; and in shutting down, isolating and preparing process units or production equipment for maintenance


Interest in analyzing information to develop operator procedures for normal operations, start-up and shut-down of units; and in participating in safety audits and programs, and in providing emergency response when required


Interest in speaking with team members and trainees to authorize or co-sign maintenance work orders; in ensuring adherence to safety and environmental regulations; may work in a team with shared supervisory responsibilities and participate in training other workers

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Gas plant operators need:

  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity
  • Good vision and hearing
  • Judgement and reliability
  • Agility and endurance
  • Attention to detail
  • An awareness of the need for cleanliness
  • A strong safety orientation
  • Math skills
  • Communication skills in English
  • An understanding of word processing, spreadsheets and similar applications

Gas plant operators should enjoy controlling equipment, instruments and machinery. They also should enjoy working in a team to analyze information and solve problems. They should be comfortable working under pressure and in high-stress situations.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing

2016 NOC: 9232

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 21 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between May 23, 2022 and Apr 25, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Health benefits: Health care plan
Health benefits: Dental plan
Tasks: Monitor outside process equipment
Tasks: Adjust equipment, valves, pumps and controls and process equipment
Tasks: Ensure adherence to safety regulations
Construction Specialization: Team player
Attention to detail
Work Setting: Remote location
Tasks: Work in a team with shared supervisory responsibilities
Tasks: Operate electronic or computerized control panel from a central control room
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Minimum Education Varies

In gas plants that use generating sources other than steam, operators may not need specific formal education. However, a high school diploma with courses in mathematics, chemistry and physics is a definite asset. The following safety courses also may be required or recommended:

  • Confined Space Entry
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Hydrogen Sulfide Awareness (H2S)
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG)
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Fall Arrest
  • Petroleum Safety Training (PST)
  • All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Safety
  • Chainsaw Safety
  • Ice Rescue
  • Defensive Driving

Gas plants with power boilers or sulphur recovery units require that operators have an Alberta Power Engineering Certificate. For details about power engineering certification, see the Power Engineer occupational profile. Most employers also want operators to complete at least 1 or 2 Gas Processing Operations (GPO) courses.

Some companies provide in-house training opportunities to help gas plant operators advance to more senior positions.

Post-secondary schools that offer power engineering programs also may offer GPO courses and other gas plant operations training by distance education (computer-managed learning or modularized materials).

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Gas plant operators work for oil and gas companies in gas plants. In general, these are located as close as possible to gas fields. Alberta has hundreds of gas plants, some near major cities and others in remote areas.

Individuals often start in field positions or as junior operators. Advancement to more senior positions such as unit operator and senior operator usually depends on experience and education. In gas plants that require power engineering certificates, operators may need higher certification to advance to senior positions.

Senior operators may move into supervisory positions. They may then advance to management positions located either at the plant or in major cities.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 9232: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing occupational group, 77.9% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 9232: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing occupational group is expected to have an average annual growth of 2.4% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 179 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Salaries for gas plant operators vary depending on the plant and the qualifications of the operator.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing

2016 NOC: 9232
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 9232 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $27.85 $62.02 $39.46 $37.00
Overall $35.13 $74.99 $50.78 $50.62
Top $44.85 $90.80 $59.57 $57.50

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information


Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Alberta Boilers Safety Association (ABSA) website:

PetroLMI, Careers in Oil and Gas (COG) website:

Energy Safety Canada website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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