Learning about careers and new opportunities in the fuel and petrochemical industries generates a lot of questions. Here you can find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the industry:

What is refining and what do refineries make?

Petroleum refining is the process where crude oil is converted into useful products such as gasoline and diesel fuel. Using distillation, the different boiling points allow the products to be separated. Advanced methods are then employed to further process it into fuels and other products.

Refineries produce motor gasoline, jet fuel for aircrafts, diesel fuel, kerosene and many other fuels that are used in transportation, power generation, and heating. They also produce nonfuel products like asphalt, solvents, and wax.

Learn more about refined materials here.

What are petrochemicals and what do petrochemical manufacturers make?

Petrochemicals are the fundamental building blocks of organic chemistry. In the strictest scientific sense, petrochemicals are chemical compounds, which can be made from oil, natural gas, coal, plants or other sources though the majority are derived from oil and natural gas.

Petrochemicals are used in our daily lives for everything from plastic and commercial aircrafts to medicine and military protective wear. For instance, surgical gloves contain petrochemicals latex, polyisoprene, nitrile, and neoprene. Military combat boots utilize a blend of natural and synthetic materials, with over 50% of the boot made from materials that have their origin from crude oil or natural gas.

A list of other everyday life uses for petrochemicals can be found here.

What is workforce development?

Workforce development is a strategy that promotes economic development and jobs by focusing on people. Through education and training, workforce development programs seek to prepare the next generation of skilled and professional workers for high-demand careers in industries such as fuel and petrochemical manufacturing.

What types of jobs are available?

The fuel and petrochemical industries are hiring for a range of opportunities. For instance, companies are hiring skilled craft professionals, technical professionalsadministrative staff and other professionals ranging from commercial drivers to security officers.

What does the term “skilled craft” or “craft professional” mean?

The term “skilled craft” or “craft professional” refers to a tradesperson in a profession which requires a particular kind of skilled manual work or training. Examples include ironworkers, electricians and welders.

Where are the fuel and petrochemical jobs located?

In the U.S. the fuel and petrochemical industries have job opportunities across the country. Top industry states include Texas, California, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Do the fuel and petrochemical industries offer competitive salaries and benefits?

Yes. The fuel and petrochemical industries offer very competitive salaries and benefits. As an example, according to "The State of American Energy - 2014," the average annual salary in the refinery industry is $111,542 and according to the "Business of Chemistry - 2015," the average chemical industry salary is almost $93,000 which are well above nation-wide averages.

Do I need to go to college to work in fuel and petrochemical manufacturing?

No. The fuel and petrochemical industries employ people with various backgrounds. From high school graduates to those with a Ph.D., the industry requires a range of skills and backgrounds.

You can learn more about pursuing a 2-year, 4-year, or advanced degree and working in the industry here.

I want to go to college, what kinds of courses should I take?

While not required, a two-year associate degree or four-year bachelor’s degree is a great way to get started in the industry. Companies look for candidates with strong backgrounds in math, engineering, sciences, and physics. They also look for people who have studied human resources, finance, and business.

Are there any scholarships available to assist with my schooling?

Yes. There are a number of scholarships for people interested in the industry. You can learn more about scholarship opportunities here.

Do I need a certificate to work as a craft professional?

While some employers offer on-the-job training for skilled professions, completing a certificate program is a great way to get started in the profession. In addition, many employers require a certificate for entry-level positions. You can learn more about certificate programs here.

Are there any hiring programs for veterans?

Yes. Veterans have unique experiences and skills that are highly valued by the energy industry. Many companies work with organizations such as American Jobs for America’s Heroes and Hire our Heroes to match skills and identify qualified candidates. You can learn more about veterans programs here.

Do people work outdoors?

The work atmosphere varies depending on the position. Many jobs are outside, especially skilled workers like welders, technicians, and maintenance specialists. However, administrators and business professionals typically work indoors in an office.

Do all positions require shift work? If so, how long is a typical shift?

Not all positions require shift work such as engineering or administrative positions. Some positions such as technicians and craft professionals may work 10-12 hour shifts where, for example, one would work for 4 days and then have 3 days off. In addition, as refineries and petrochemical plants run year-round, some employees may be required to work holidays and weekends on occasion.

Is working in fuel and petrochemical manufacturing safe?

Nothing is more important than the safety of employees in the fuel and petrochemical industries. While work environments involve complex process equipment, hazardous materials, and the handling of materials under high pressures and temperatures, fuel and petrochemical manufacturers are continually looking to improve their safety records.

The 2012 AFPM Occupational Injury & Illness Report found the total recordable incident rate for both company employees and onsite contractors was 0.5 incidents per 100 full time employees compared to 3.9 incidents per 100 full time employees in all manufacturing or 5 incidents per 100 full time employees in agriculture and crop production.

Where can I learn more about the fuel and petrochemical industries?

You can learn more about the fuel and petrochemical industries here.