If you’ve heard people say that America doesn’t make anything anymore – that there are no good blue collar jobs anymore – here’s the answer to that: wrong, and wrong.
There are still American industries where those jobs never went anywhere – jobs that require serious skills and knowledge, but don’t necessarily require college degrees. Jobs where making things has never gone out of style – jobs where you don’t learn your trade straight out of a book — and you can find those jobs in America’s fuel and petrochemical industries.
Let’s look at an example. If you’ve ever driven by a refinery or a petrochemical plant, you’ve probably noticed all those glowing lights – like a small city…
…and there’s something to that. Inside are hundreds of structures, thousands of miles of pipe, all sorts of sophisticated equipment and advanced technology – all of it operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Also inside, keeping that “city” running are operators, technicians, environmental coordinators, maintenance workers, managers and inspectors – all making sure those pipes, equipment and technology are running smoothly.
Keeping an eye on everything, on that same 24/7 clock – are process operators. In this case, keeping an eye on their small city from high-tech control rooms, monitoring an array of screens and other sophisticated monitors which are feeding them streams of video and data – watching to see that everything goes as it should – and responding fast if anything doesn’t (you can read more about their work in Bill Laster’s story below).
Outside, all around the facility, inspectors and gaugers, boiler operators and other workers are on the job. Overseeing and operating pumps and furnaces, compressors and valves, turning them on, adjusting them, turning them off – and monitoring everything. At times, they can even be 200 feet up in the air, on top of a tower to adjust a valve – or down on solid ground, tweaking the temperature and pressure inside a unit. And not everything an employee needs to know is in a book – paying attention to what they see, and smell, and hear can be just as essential to keeping a facility running safely and reliably.