Furnace Operator: Employment Info & Requirements

Find out what a furnace operator does. Explore the job description, duties, training requirements, salary and employment outlook to see if you still want to pursue this occupation.

Career Definition for a Furnace Operator

Most furnace operators work in an industrial setting. Their primary duty is to operate and tend to furnaces, including furnaces powered by gas, coal, electric induction and oxygen. Common duties of furnace operators include weighing out metal ingots and scrap metal, loading metal into furnaces and removing molten metal from furnaces, using controls to regulate fuel and airflow to the furnace, monitoring coolant, controlling furnace temperature and tending to other duties as needed.

Education High school diploma or equivalent recommended
Job Skills Strength, understanding of tools, equipment operation and control skills
Median Salary (2017)* $37,580 for furnace operators and tenders
Job Growth (2016-2026)* -5% for furnace operators and tenders

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

While there aren't usually strict education requirements for a career in furnace operation, you'll generally need at least your high school diploma or the GED equivalent. Employers generally prefer candidates who can speak, read and write English. Most jobs in this field will include specialized, on-the-job training to prepare you for the position.

Skill Requirements

Furnace operators should be physically strong and in good health. Familiarity and understanding of machines and tools, raw materials and their processing, and equipment control and operation will help prepare you for a career in furnace operation.

Employment and Economic Outlook

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for furnace operators and tenders is expected to decline 5% from 2016 to 2026. Median annual earnings in 2017 for this field were $37,580.

Alternate Career Options

Consider these other options in machine operation and maintenance:

Welder, Cutter, Solderer and Brazer

The skills for these occupations might be learned by high school graduates while on the job or through technical school training. Using hand-held equipment, these professionals join or weld metal parts. According to the BLS, the annual median wage for this field in general was $40,240 in 2017, and average job growth of 6% was anticipated for 2016 through 2026.

Plumber, Pipefitter and Steamfitter

High school graduates wishing to enter these occupations may learn their skills through a technical school program or through an apprenticeship; licensing of plumbers is normally required. These workers repair and install pipes in homes and businesses that might carry gas or liquid. During the 2016-2026 decade, the BLS expected much faster than average employment growth for these occupations of 16%. As of May 2017, these jobs in general paid a median salary of $52,590 per year, the BLS reported.


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