Chemical Production Operator
Kaiwhakamahi Whakaputa Matū
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Chemical production operators perform a variety of tasks involved in producing toiletries or pharmaceutical products such as ointments, creams, aerosols, tablets, capsules, bandages and vaccines.
Chemical production operators with one to four years' experience usually earn
$16-$20 per hour
Chemical production operators with more than four years' experience usually earn
$20-$27 per hour
Pay for chemical production operators varies depending on experience and employer.
- Trainees and apprentice chemical production operators usually start on the minimum wage or a little more.
- After about four or five years in the role, chemical production operators usually earn about $20 an hour.
- An experienced operator with five or more years' experience and additional responsibilities can earn $27 an hour or more.
- PAYE.net.nz website – use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Chemical production operators may do some or all of the following:
- weigh, measure and mix ingredients for ointments, creams, tablets and liquid medication
- ferment (chemically break down) bacteria cultures and collect antigens to produce antibodies
- control the temperature and operation of machines
- apply coatings to some products for flavour, colour or preservation
- operate and sterilise machines
- keep records, complete batch documentation and do paperwork.
Skills and knowledge
Chemical production operators need to have:
- knowledge of the product they are producing
- knowledge of quality control and the code of good manufacturing practice
- knowledge of safety procedures and hygiene regulations
- skill operating specialist machines.
Chemical production operators:
- usually work regular business hours
- work in factories
- often work with dangerous products and must wear safety clothing.
What's the job really like?
Pharmaceutical Production Operator
What do you like about your job?
"It's interesting making these products because you're starting from scratch and working with a lot of machinery as well. I like knowing that the products we make are beneficial to people, and it's good seeing them on shop shelves and being able to say, 'I made that'."
What is it like being one of the more experienced workers?
"I enjoy learning about the new machinery and techniques, and teaching others. I've had a lot of experience and most of the people who enter this job haven't worked in this type of environment. As a leading hand you lead by example – if they see that I work hard, they'll follow and work hard as well."
What's your advice to others?
"You've got to be flexible to work here and it's helpful to have knowledge of the different products. Go and look in chemists and health shops at the products on offer. That way when you get an interview you're familiar with the products and you have a general idea about what they're talking about. Most companies will also let you have a look around the factory, so you have the chance to see what it's like."
There are no specific entry requirements to become a chemical production operator as most skills are learned on the job. However, because you may work with controlled substances, you must not have any criminal convictions.
Chemical production operators can work towards a National Certificate in Manufacturing, Core Skills (Level 2) on the job. This qualification is overseen by Competenz.
At least three years secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include maths, science (especially chemistry) and English.
Chemical production operators need to be:
- accurate, with an eye for detail
- careful and safety-conscious
- practical and reliable
- able to work well in a team and unsupervised
- able to follow instructions
- good at basic maths and science.
Useful experience for chemical production operators includes factory or laboratory work.
Find out more about training
- Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand
- (04) 802 0030 - email@example.com - www.psnz.org.nz
- 0800 526 1800 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.competenz.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Chances of getting work are higher in Auckland, since most jobs (more than 60%) are based there. New Zealand Pharmaceuticals in Palmerston North is also a major employer of chemical production operators.
Around 100 employers in New Zealand
There are about 100 pharmaceutical manufacturers in New Zealand. These companies manufacture pharmaceutical products for national and international markets.
Products manufactured in New Zealand include:
- cosmetics and health-related products (nutraceuticals)
- veterinary products
- biotechnical products (products for the health sector, which can be for human and animal consumption).
- Forman, M, 'Douglas Pharmaceuticals gets $2.5m boost', Stuff, November 2013, (www.stuff.co.nz).
- Henderson, K, industry manager, Competenz, Careers New Zealand interview, November 2014.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MOBIE), 'Likely Areas of Growth in Employment Opportunities, Employment Forecasts for 2010-2015', accessed November 2014, (www.dol.govt.nz).
- Statistics New Zealand, 'Economic Survey of Manufacturing: June 2014 quarter', (www.stats.govt.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Chemical production operators can move into supervisory or team leadership roles. With experience they can potentially move into managerial roles such as production manager.
They may specialise in working with a particular product or a particular stage of the production process.
Last updated 28 August 2017