West Virginia Northern Community College

Programs of Study

Chemical Operator Technology, A.A.S.

Chemical Operator Technology
Associate in Applied Science

Chemical Operator Technology, AAS, prepares students to be employed as operators in the process industry. A chemical process operator works in the safe production, refining and transfer of various chemicals in three states of matter - solid, liquid, and gas. Production is carried out in reactors and converters. Refining is done in distillation columns, filter presses, separators and other types of equipment. Chemicals are transferred through pipelines to shipping containers or storage tanks. In operating equipment, the operator must observe, interpret and record data from gauges, instruments, computer displays, log books, and laboratory analysis data. The operator will need to make changes in pressure, flow, temperature, level and other parameters by operating control devices including valves, switches, and levers.
Operators may also be required to operate moving equipment such as aerial work platforms , forklifts, and track mobiles. Minor maintenance activities requiring the use of hand tools is done frequently by operators. The operators must be able to solve simple math problems and be able to run lab tests to assure quality products are being made. An operator must have good written and verbal communication skills. Being able to recognize unusual conditions and troubleshoot problems are essential traits for a chemical operator.
The lifeblood of modern society is found in petroleum products. Process technicians are involved in the manufacture of chemicals and petroleum products that supports our global economy. The chemical processing industry (CPI) is anticipating severe shortages in skilled technicians to operate their plants. As the large baby boomer group quickly approaches retirement age, the CPI braces for a 70-80 percent employee turnover. This occupation shows a growth potential of 17 percent.

Awards and Accreditations