Chemical factory worker

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Paul Barnes is a field support worker for a business who manufacture industrial gasses such as liquid oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide and hydrogen. These are used in a variety of manufacturing industries, from putting the bubbles into soft drinks to making margarine.

What does your job involve?

Helping to ensure the smooth running of unstaffed satellite plants throughout the North West and north of England. These are plants that produce or store various types of gas for use in industry. I have to ensure everything is in a state of readiness to supply a variety of customers according to the contractual agreements.

The plants that we deal with all have different control strategies and equipment, so I have to be aware of the problems that may arise at each one.

What equipment do you use for this?

I carry various hand and electronic diagnoses tools, plus a laptop computer to enable me to check records of the equipment and record the work that I do.

What was your route into this job?

I served a four-year multi-skilled electrically-based apprenticeship in a manufacturing technician role. I moved into optical fibre work and then to a car company. After only two months on the shop floor as a shift technician, I was promoted to manufacturing engineer where the involvement with project work stood me in good stead for my present role.

What training have you had for your present role?

In my 12 months here I have received on-the-job training which has enabled me to get to know the company, the equipment, the product and processes involved.

What hours do you work?

When I'm working on projects at base it's usually 7.30 am to 4.30 pm. Sometimes we have to work outside of these hours. When working on the satellite plants I'm on 24hr call-out, which means I must be available at any time.

Why did you choose this type of work?

I wanted an interesting job with plenty of variety. I also wanted one that stretched my ability and made me come home from work exhausted, either physically or mentally.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

The job is very challenging and rewarding. The disadvantage is the difficulty of planning social events when on-call, but its part of the job and I'm only on-call one week in every three.

What are your long-term career goals?

To develop within the company to my full potential, working with equipment in order to maintain my skills, and to eventually become a project commissioning engineer.

What are the skills and qualities needed for this job?

An ability to adapt, think fast, react responsibly and be able to deal with customers.

Paul's route to his factory job

  • GNVQ Level 3 (Apprenticeship).
  • ONC Electrical
  • HNC Electrical.
  • Completed Degree in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering.

Paul's tips

  • Investigate the trade apprenticeship route – it is worthwhile.
  • If there is something you don't agree with, don't be afraid to challenge it.

Chemical factory worker related jobs

Salary information

  • Pay varies and depends on the employer, location, responsibilities and experience.
  • Entrants should earn at least £12,000 rising with experience, to £20,000 and more.

Getting in

  • Production workers are usually employed by manufacturing companies. There are many throughout the UK, in a wide range of fields such as electrical, information technology, food and drink manufacture, metal manufacturing and the industrial gas industry.
  • It may be possible to train as an Apprentice in any of these areas.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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