Home Industry Information Manufacturing & Production Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining

Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining


The Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining industry is a diverse industry covering the production of chemicals, industrial gases, and metals and petroleum refining.

It is an important industry within Australia’s valuable resources sector. It is global in nature with many of the major stakeholders being multinational companies who require a skilled workforce that is mobile, flexible and able to adapt to changing conditions.

The ongoing downturn of the resources sector continues to impact this industry. Margins are tight and Australian businesses are struggling to remain competitive. The oil and gas refining sector is being impacted by the global oil price and the metals refining sector by the decrease in demand from China as well as the increase in low cost Chinese products entering Australia.

Traineeship and apprenticeship commencements in this industry are moderate.

What does this industry cover?

Oil and industrial gases used in manufacturing industries such make plastics, for example:

  • Aluminium smelting and refining
  • Petrol and oil manufacture
  • Paint and lacquer

Industry Information

There are just over 15,000 people employed in chemical, gas, petroleum plant operator roles mostly with micro and small businesses.

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements in this industry are moderate.

Employment and wage data for this industry

Apprenticeships Employment Size

This is a small industry for Australian Apprenticeship commencements. In the year to September 2018, commencements were: 482

Source: VOCSTATS, extracted on 28/03/2019AATIS analysis.

Commencements Change

Commencements in the year to September 2018 in this industry have increased, compared with the previous year.

Source: VOCSTATS, extracted on 28/03/2019AATIS analysis.

Apprentice Employment Outcomes

For Australian Apprentice graduates from this industry, employment outcomes are high.

Source: NCVER National Student Outcomes Survey, 2017, unpublished. AATIS analysis.

Industry Employment Size

This is a small sized industry compared with other Australian industries.

Source: Department of Jobs and Small Business, 2018. AATIS analysis.

Industry Employment Change

Over the past 5 years, change in employment in this industry has remained stable.

Source: Department of Jobs and Small Business, 2018. AATIS analysis.

Industry Wage

The average wage of all employees in this industry is medium to high.

Source: Department of Jobs and Small Business, 2018. AATIS analysis.

Key Occupations

Plant Operator (CSG Plant Operator)

Process Plant Operator (Chemical)

Process Plant Operator (Emergency Support)

Process Plant Operator (Hydrocarbon Extraction)

Process Plant Operator (Hydrocarbon Transmission)

Process Plant Operator (LNG Plant Operator)

Process Plant Technician

This industry is positioned in the following groups


Manufacturing & Production

Work Type

Practical & Manual

Ready to see where Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining can take you?

Career Pathways

Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining has career pathways from Certificate II through to Diploma.  Look at the Job Pathway Chart to see what is of interest.

Job Pathway Charts

MyGain - YouTube Channel

Watch videos on apprentices in various industries and their rewarding experiences doing an apprenticeship.


Support Services

Further Research


Industry information is published by peak level associations, government and major employers.  Accessing industry association sites, including member lists, is a good way of building up an understanding of an industry.  Visiting employer websites and looking for careers or employment menus helps identify how employers recruit and the skills they are recruiting.

Use Google to search for the associations and organisations listed below. 


  • National Energy Resources Australia
  • Australia New Zealand Industrial Gas Association
  • The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association
  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

​Career Sites