What Does A Pump Operator Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Stan T.Career, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Pump Operators

Pump Operators tend, control, or operate power-driven, stationary, or portable pumps and manifold systems to transfer gases, oil, other liquids, slurries, or powdered materials to and from various vessels and processes.

Salary
$51830
Becoming One
Easy
Education
No degree required
Job Satisfaction
Low
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Pump Operators tend, control, or operate power-driven, stationary, or portable pumps and manifold systems to transfer gases, oil, other liquids, slurries, or powdered materials to and from various vessels and processes.

  • Monitor gauges and flowmeters and inspect equipment to ensure that tank levels, temperatures, chemical amounts, and pressures are at specified levels, reporting abnormalities as necessary.
  • Record operating data such as products and quantities pumped, stocks used, gauging results, and operating times.
  • Communicate with other workers, using signals, radios, or telephones, to start and stop flows of materials or substances.
  • Tend vessels that store substances such as gases, liquids, slurries, or powdered materials, checking levels of substances by using calibrated rods or by reading mercury gauges and tank charts.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Pump Operators record operating data such as products and quantities pumped, stocks used, gauging results, and operating times. They read operating schedules or instructions or receive verbal orders to determine amounts to be pumped.

A typical day for a Pump Operator will also include:

  • Tend auxiliary equipment such as water treatment and refrigeration units and heat exchangers.
  • Turn valves and start pumps to start or regulate flows of substances such as gases, liquids, slurries, or powdered materials.
  • Monitor gauges and flowmeters and inspect equipment to ensure that tank levels, temperatures, chemical amounts, and pressures are at specified levels, reporting abnormalities as necessary.
  • Communicate with other workers, using signals, radios, or telephones, to start and stop flows of materials or substances.
  • Collect and deliver sample solutions for laboratory analysis.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Pump Operators also clean, lubricate, and repair pumps and vessels, using hand tools and equipment. They may also pump two or more materials into one tank to blend mixtures.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Pump Operators connect hoses and pipelines to pumps and vessels prior to material transfer, using hand tools. They might also turn valves and start pumps to start or regulate flows of substances such as gases, liquids, slurries, or powdered materials.

In addition, they add chemicals and solutions to tanks to ensure that specifications are met.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them test materials and solutions, using testing equipment.

To some Pump Operators, it is also their responsibility to plan the movement of products through lines to processing, storage, and shipping units, using knowledge of interconnections and capacities of pipelines, valve manifolds, pumps, and tankage.

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What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Low

Is this job meaningful

Average

61% said they were satisfied with their job and 47% said they found their job meaningful.


Pablo Martinez-Moore
North Ridge Pumps

I’m a pump operator at North Ridge Pumps.

A typical day at North Ridge Pumps is certainly varied. We operate worldwide and across a diverse range of fluids and industries, so sometimes we can be talking to a Mining Engineer who is looking to solve a process issue whereby they are experiencing accelerated wear on a pump, frequently replacing spare parts and are looking to us for a solution and then shortly after speaking to a customer looking to refill light aircraft with a hand pump in Africa.

Sometimes people are only after technical advice, spare parts brochures, or in need of pump repair, so from one minute to the next, the role can be really diverse.

Pros

The pros of working as a pump operator are that each day is unique and completely different from the next due to the individual handling requirements of fluids which can vary from food transfer requiring a safe hygienic pump, to a slurry transfer application requiring a slow moving hard wearing unit, or a pump for a toxic chemical which needs to be safe and ensure zero chance of leakage.

You have to be a quick thinker, be analytical and also think of how a pump may interact as part of a system to understand if what you propose is right for the process.

You have to think laterally about how the customer will perform repairs when required, how they will access the pump, and whether additional infrastructure is required to maintain the unit such as if it is heavy and immersed in a tank or located in a confined space.

Some days we are the problem solver, other days the specifier and solution provider. We have to work to critically analyze a process, understand the working parts of not only the pump but also the associated system which directly affects the operation of the pump.

Cons

Some of the downsides of working as a pump operator are that sometimes customers are not willing to invest in what is the ideal solution for their process and opt for something which is not right, leading to failure and ultimately costing themselves more in lost production. A few months ago, we had a prospect contact us looking to improve the way they handle molten wax. They were experiencing frequent pump failures and needed to increase production. Rather than opt for a peristaltic pump which was virtually maintenance-free, they chose to continue to use a cheap shower pump which would often clog and be thrown away despite it not being right for their process.

Working as a pump operator involves working closely with clients to ensure all process information is obtained, is right and so the correct solution is specified. If vital information is missed the incorrect pump can be selected leading to premature failure.

With so many different pump technologies and designs available it can take a while to fully understand and learn which pumps should be used with each fluid and process. It is impossible to put in a selection table as each process can be completely different which means it can take new starters up to 2 years to be able to work confidently to specify pumps correctly.


Pros

Suitable for people who like practical and hands-on work.

Suitable for people who want to work in a supportive work environment.

This career is perfect for people who love to work both indoors and outdoors.

It is easy to get into this career. Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to work with designs.

Salary is below average.

Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week).

How much do they make

Average salary

$51830 per year

Average hourly wage

$25 per hour

Entry-level Pump Operators with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $30,200 to $37,140 per year or $15 to $18 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $81,290 $39
Senior (Top 25%) $63,510 $31
Median $48,090 $23
Junior (Bottom 25%) $37,140 $18
No experience (Bottom 10%) $30,200 $15

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Pump Operators based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Other Specialty Trade Contractors $73560 $35.37
Pipeline Transportation of Crude Oil $71060 $34.16
Coal Mining $66970 $32.20
Nonmetallic Mineral Mining and Quarrying $65140 $31.32
Other Pipeline Transportation $62490 $30.04
Oil and Gas Extraction $60110 $28.90
Water, Sewage and Other Systems $58750 $28.24
Pipeline Transportation of Natural Gas $57020 $27.41
Foundation, Structure, and Building Exterior Contractors $56690 $27.25
Utility System Construction $56000 $26.92

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Pump Operators work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Pump Operators including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Support Activities for Mining 2350 $53180 $25.57
Rental and Leasing Services 1190 $46710 $22.46
Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods 640 $55260 $26.57
Remediation and Other Waste Management Services 490 $40250 $19.35
Foundation, Structure, and Building Exterior Contractors 480 $56690 $27.25
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing 350 $55980 $26.91
Local Government 350 $47720 $22.94
Oil and Gas Extraction 320 $60110 $28.90
Water, Sewage and Other Systems 270 $58750 $28.24
Utility System Construction 260 $56000 $26.92

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
0%

40 hours
22%

More than 40 hours
78%

Working schedule

95%

4%

1%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
18%

Every day
70%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
29%

Every day
62%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
18%

Every day
81%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
98%

Once a year
0%

Once a month
1%

Once a week
0%

Every day
0%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
13%

Slightly competitive
36%

Moderately competitive
11%

Highly competitive
30%

Extremely competitive
10%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
14%

Once a year or more
9%

Once a month or more
1%

Once a week or more
1%

Every day
75%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
20%

Once a year or more
4%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
1%

Every day
75%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
1%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
3%

Every day
96%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
5%

Once a year or more
9%

Once a month or more
26%

Once a week or more
11%

Every day
48%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Easy
You may need some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Most careers in this difficulty category usually don’t require a degree. However, you will need a few months of on-the-job training with experienced employees. Similar careers include Customer Service Representatives, Security Guards, and Bank Tellers.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
1%

High School Diploma or equivalent
86%

Post-Secondary Certificate
2%

Some College Courses
1%

Associate’s Degree or similar
10%

Bachelor’s Degree
0%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
0%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant majors

No majors found

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
40%

1 month
2%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
3%

6 months to 1 year
30%

1 to 2 years
12%

2 to 4 years
12%

4 to 6 years
0%

6 to 8 years
1%

8 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
10%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
10%

3 to 6 months
12%

6 months to 1 year
66%

1 to 2 years
2%

2 to 4 years
0%

4 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Builder

People with this personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

The Builder
100%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
57%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
14%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
19%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
29%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
67%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

They also like following set procedures and routines. They like working with data and details more than with ideas.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
33%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
45%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
33%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
52%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
81%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
52%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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