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Pump Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Tends, controls, or operates 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.

This career is part of the Manufacturing cluster Manufacturing Production pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Monitors gauges and flowmeters and inspects equipment to ensure that tank levels, temperatures, chemical amounts, and pressures are at specified levels, reporting abnormalities as necessary.
  • Records operating data such as products and quantities pumped, stocks used, gauging results, and operating times.
  • Communicates with other workers, using signals, radios, or telephones, to start and stop flows of materials or substances.
  • Tends 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.
  • Turns valves and starts pumps to start or regulate flows of substances such as gases, liquids, slurries, or powdered materials.
  • Plans movement of products through lines to processing, storage, and shipping units, using knowledge of interconnections and capacities of pipelines, valve manifolds, pumps, and tankage.
  • Reads operating schedules or instructions or receives verbal orders to determine amounts to be pumped.
  • Cleans, lubricates, and repairs pumps and vessels, using hand tools and equipment.
  • Collects and delivers sample solutions for laboratory analysis.
  • Connects hoses and pipelines to pumps and vessels prior to material transfer, using hand tools.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time
  • Work at heights above 8 feet more than once a month on structures such as ladders, poles, scaffolding, and catwalks

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects

Work Hours and Travel

  • Rotating shift work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Chemical Operator --
  • Day Light Relief Operator --
  • Logistics Technician --
  • Outside Operator --
  • Pipeline Operator --
  • Process Operator --
  • Pump Station Operator --
  • Pumper --
  • Purification Operator --
  • Tank Car Loader --