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Pulpmill Operator

Pulpmill operators operate and monitor machinery and equipment that processes wood to produce pulp to be manufactured into paper or paper products.

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

CTMP Mill Operator, Kraft Mill Operator, Production Worker, TMP Mill Operator

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: Pulp Mill Machine Operators (9432) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Pulp Mill Machine Operators (J142) 
  • 2011 NOC: Pulp mill machine operators (9432) 
  • 2016 NOC: Pulp mill machine operators (9432) 
Interest Codes
The Pulpmill Operator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Pulp Mill Machine Operators

Interest in operating and monitoring screening equipment, bleaching equipment, digesters, mixing tanks, washers and other pulp processing machinery and equipment to carry out one or more cellulose processing steps


Interest in copying to observe equipment and machinery panel indicators, gauges, level indicators and other instruments to detect malfunctions and to ensure that process steps are carried out according to specifications


Interest in speaking with pulping control operators to make process adjustments and start up or shut down machinery and equipment as required

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 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 More

Updated Mar 05, 2021

Pulpmills use different processes to extract cellulose fibres from wood chips, sawmill residues and other raw materials. In kraft mills, huge pressure cookers called digesters mix wood chips with soda-based chemicals to break the fibres down into pulp. In TMP mills, large amounts of electrical energy and steam are used to separate wood fibers into pulp. In CTMP mills, a chemithermomechanical (CTMP) process using less energy than TMP is used to separate wood fibres with steam and chemicals. The complexity of these operations varies from one situation to another.

Pulpmill operators’ duties and responsibilities vary depending on the type of equipment but, in general, they:

  • Operate and monitor raw water treatment and wastewater treatment equipment including: clarifiers, aeration basins, filtration equipment, pumps, blowers and sludge dewatering equipment
  • Operate and monitor screening equipment, mixing tanks, washers, hoisting equipment, forming, cutting and packaging equipment or other machines used in cellulose processing
  • Operate mobile equipment to move finished product into storage or load it for shipping to customers
  • Monitor equipment and machinery panel indicators, gauges, level indicators and other equipment instruments to detect malfunctions and ensure processing steps are carried out according to specifications
  • Initiate changes or communicate with the control room operator to make process adjustments and start up or shut down machinery and equipment as required
  • Collect processing samples and conduct titration tests, pH readings and other routine tests on pulp and solutions
  • Operate and monitor power boilers, boiler water treatment equipment and pressure vessels.
  • Maintain and complete production reports

Pulpmill operators may work in 1 of 4 different areas: pulping, refining, steam and recovery, or pulp finishing. Each area is unique and requires different on-the-job training based upon equipment use.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Pulpmill operators usually work 12-hour rotating shifts. They work in an environment that is often hot, humid and noisy. Kraft mills, due to the process involved, can emit an unpleasant odour. Operators must wear safety boots, hard hats, ear plugs, safety glasses and other personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of injury. Overtime is sometimes needed.

The work involves considerable walking, standing and climbing ladders or stairs. Lifting up to 20 kilograms may be required.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Pulpmill operators need:

  • Manual dexterity and mechanical aptitude
  • Oral communication skills
  • The ability to work in a potentially hot, damp or dusty environment
  • The ability to wait for breaks until operational demands permit time
  • The ability to perform repetitious tasks and remain alert
  • The ability to work with a team

In pulp mills operating on a self-directed work team structure, operators also need the supervisory skills required for activities such as planning and scheduling, budgeting, training and coaching other workers.

All pulpmill operators should enjoy operating and monitoring equipment, having clear parameters and organized methods for their work, and working with others to solve problems.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 05, 2021

The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers require operators to have specific courses such as English Language Arts 30 and Math 30, or equivalent.

Computer skills are a definite asset, especially skills related to data input, word processing, spreadsheet development and dealing with digital or analogue outputs for controlling processing equipment. Experienced operators are expected to work with computerized screens in order to monitor and respond to the operating environment.

Pulpmill operators learn on the job and may take related courses by distance education. They usually start in entry level labouring positions and progress to higher level positions as they become available. Some mills routinely rotate operators through different areas.

Related Education

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

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Some employers require pulpmill operators to have a 4th class (or higher) power engineering certificate. For more information, see the Power Engineer certification profile.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Pulpmill operators work in pulp mills that are usually located near forested areas. Union membership may be a condition of employment.

Experienced pulpmill operators may advance to pulping control room operator or supervisory positions but without additional training, generally provided by the mill, further advancement opportunities are limited.

In Alberta, people employed as pulpmill  operators work in the Manufacturing [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Manufacturing industry)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 9432: Pulp mill machine operators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years, creating opportunities in areas where 2nd, 3rd or 4th class power engineering tickets are required. However, the continuing automation  of pulpmill operations may have a negative impact on employment demand for pulpmill operators.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA) website:

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

Updated Mar 05, 2021. 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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