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Separating and Still Machine Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Sets up, operates or tends continuous flow or vat-type equipment; filter presses; shaker screens; centrifuges; condenser tubes; precipitating, fermenting or evaporating tanks; scrubbing towers; or batch stills. These machines, such as dairy processing equipment, extract, sort or separate liquids, gases or solids from other materials to recover a refined product.

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


A person in this career:

  • Dumps, pours, or loads specified amounts of refined or unrefined materials into equipment or containers for further processing or storage.
  • Operates machines to process materials in compliance with applicable safety, energy, or environmental regulations.
  • Monitors material flow or instruments such as temperature or pressure gauges, indicators, or meters to ensure optimal processing conditions.
  • Turns valves or move controls to admit, drain, separate, filter, clarify, mix, or transfer materials.
  • Sets up or adjusts machine controls to regulate conditions such as material flow, temperature, or pressure.
  • Examines samples to verify qualities such as clarity, cleanliness, consistency, dryness, or texture.
  • Starts agitators, shakers, conveyors, pumps, or centrifuge machines.
  • Inspects machines or equipment for hazards, operating efficiency, malfunctions, wear, or leaks.
  • Collects samples of materials or products for laboratory analysis.
  • Communicates processing instructions to other workers.

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 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 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):

  • Maintaining a body position that prevents falling when in an unstable position
  • 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
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Rotating shift work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Clarifier -- Tends equipment that removes sediment and moisture to purify stock.
  • Coagulation Operator -- Controls equipment, for example coagulation tanks, soap conversion tanks, leach tanks, filters, screens, hammer mills, and pneumatic conveyors to coagulate synthetic rubber latex into rubber crumb slurry and to prepare rubber crumbs for finishing processe
  • Dethistler Operator -- Tends flotation cleaner that removes materials, for example pod fragments, leaves, or thistles from peas and other vegetables preparatory to canning or freezing.
  • Distillery Worker -- Cleans, transports and applies identifying data on steel drums in liquor distilling plant.
  • Egg Breaking Machine Operator -- Tends machine that breaks eggs and separates yolk from white of egg.
  • Evaporator -- Controls evaporating equipment to concentrate suspensions and solutions to specified degree in vacuum tanks or pans.
  • Honey Extractor -- Tends machine that extracts liquid honey from combs.
  • Irish Moss Operator -- Operates centrifugal separator, pressure cooker, drum drier, hammer mill, and air separator to process Irish moss (carrageen) into powdered stabilizer used in food processing.
  • Potato Peeling Machine Operator -- Tends machine that washes and peels potatoes.
  • Yeast Distiller -- Controls equipment to prepare mixture of mash and yeast for use in manufacture of distilled liquors.