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Career and Education Opportunities for Petroleum Refinery Workers in Houston, Texas

Petroleum refinery workers can find many career and educational opportunities in the Houston, Texas area. Currently, 12,790 people work as petroleum refinery workers in Texas. This is expected to grow by 17% to about 14,970 people by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for petroleum refinery workers are expected to shrink by about 15.2%. Petroleum refinery workers generally control the operation of petroleum refining or processing units.

Income for petroleum refinery workers is about $25 per hour or $53,010 per year on average in Texas. Nationally, their income is about $26 per hour or $55,010 annually. Petroleum refinery workers earn more than people working in the category of Chemical and Gas generally in Texas and more than people in the Chemical and Gas category nationally.

There are eighty-one schools of higher education in the Houston area, including one within twenty-five miles of Houston where you can get a degree to start your career as a petroleum refinery worker. Petroleum refinery workers usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so you can expect to spend only a short time studying to be a petroleum refinery worker if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Petroleum Refinery Worker

Petroleum Refinery Worker video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, petroleum refinery workers control the operation of petroleum refining or processing units. They also may specialize in controlling manifold and pumping systems, gauging or testing oil in storage tanks, or regulating the flow of oil into pipelines.

Petroleum refinery workers signal other staff by telephone or radio to operate pumps, open and close valves, and check temperatures. They also verify that incoming and outgoing products are moving through the correct meters, and that meters are working properly. Equally important, petroleum refinery workers have to maintain and repair equipment, or report malfunctioning apparatus to supervisors so that repairs can be scheduled. They are often called upon to start pumps and open valves or use automated apparatus to regulate the flow of oil in pipelines and into and out of tanks. They are expected to formulate movement of products through lines to processing and shipping units, utilizing knowledge of system interconnections and capacities. Finally, petroleum refinery workers record and compile operating data and results of laboratory analyses.

Every day, petroleum refinery workers are expected to be able to imediately see the relationships between collections of numbers, images, and patterns. They need to evaluate problems as they arise.

It is important for petroleum refinery workers to patrol units to track the amount of oil in storage tanks, and to confirm that efforts and operations are safe and in adherence to regulations. They are often called upon to operate auxiliary equipment and control multiple processing units during distilling or treating operations, moving controls that regulate valves and auxiliary equipment. They also operate control panels to schedule and regulate process variables such as temperature and pressure, and to direct product flow rate, in line with process schedules. They are sometimes expected to control or operate manifold and pumping systems to circulate liquids through a petroleum refinery. Somewhat less frequently, petroleum refinery workers are also expected to control or operate manifold and pumping systems to circulate liquids through a petroleum refinery.

They also have to be able to collect product samples by turning bleeder valves, or by lowering containers into tanks to obtain oil samples and lower thermometers into tanks to obtain temperature readings. And finally, they sometimes have to direct shutdowns and major projects.

Like many other jobs, petroleum refinery workers must be reliable and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Houston include:

  • Chemical Plant Operations Technician. Control or operate an entire chemical process or system of machines.
  • Gas Plant Operator. Distribute or process gas for utility companies and others by controlling compressors to maintain specified pressures on main pipelines.
  • Mold Machine Operator. Set up, operate, or tend metal or plastic molding, casting, or coremaking machines to mold or cast metal or thermoplastic parts or products.
  • Power Plant Operator. Control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Petroleum Refinery Worker Training

School of Automotive Machinists - Houston, TX

School of Automotive Machinists, 1911 Antoine, Houston, TX 77055-1803. School of Automotive Machinists is a small school located in Houston, Texas. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 113 students and an admission rate of 100%. School of Automotive Machinists has a less than one year program in Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians, Other Specialties which graduated forty-eight students in 2008.


API 510 Pressure Vessels Inspector Certification: The American Petroleum Institute (API) initiated a Pressure Vessel Inspector Certification Program to improve management control of process unit operation, repair, and maintenance; reduce the potential for inspection delays resulting from regulatory requirements; and provide a continued high level of safety.

For more information, see the American Petroleum Institute website.

API 570 Piping Inspector Certification : The American Petroleum Institute (API) initiated the Piping Inspector Certification Program (PICP) to provide a continued high level of safety through the use of inspectors specialized in process piping; to improve management control of process unit inspection, repair, alteration and rerating; and to reduce the potential for.

For more information, see the American Petroleum Institute website.

API 653 Aboveground Storage Tanks Inspector Certification : The American Petroleum Institute (API) initiated an Aboveground Storage Tank Inspector Certification Program with the issuance of Supplement 1 to API 653, Tank Inspection, Repair, Alteration, and Reconstruction.

For more information, see the American Petroleum Institute website.

API 936 Refractory Personnel Certification : Refractory Personnel Certification Program is based on testing candidates' knowledge of API Recommended Practice 936, Refractory Installation Quality Control Guidelines.

For more information, see the American Petroleum Institute website.

API TES Tank Entry Supervisor Certification : This third-party certification program qualifies participants as having the minimum knowledge, experience and skills needed to safely perform duties required by tank entry supervisors.

For more information, see the American Petroleum Institute website.

UT Shear Wave (Detection) Qualification Certification : The API Subcommittee on Inspection (SCI) has initiated a new program covering the qualification of ultrasonic (UT) technicians conducting inspections.

For more information, see the American Petroleum Institute website.

Standard Journeyman Mechanical: The International Code Council's National Contractor Trades Examination Program is an independent testing program designed to provide licensing agencies with information regarding.

For more information, see the International Code Council website.


Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas photo by Hequals2henry

Houston is located in Harris County, Texas. It has a population of over 2,242,193, which has grown by 14.8% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Houston, 89, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Houston are valued at $173,500 on average, which is near the state average. In 2008, 3,684 new homes were constructed in Houston, down from 6,035 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Houston are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average commute to work is about 27 minutes. More than 27.0% of Houston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.7%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Houston is 8.0%, which is less than Texas's average of 8.1%.

The percentage of Houston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 50.4%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church, 34th Temple Church of God in Christ and Pentecostal Church of God in Christ are some of the churches located in Houston. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

Houston is home to the Champion Rod and Gun Club and the Independence Heights Residential Historic District as well as Hermann Park and Hennessey Park. Shopping centers in the area include Windsor Plaza Shopping Center, Meyerland Plaza Shopping Center and Meyerland Shopping Center. Visitors to Houston can choose from Capital Inn, Bradford Homesuites - Houston Galleria and Best Western Fountainview Inn and Suites for temporary stays in the area.