Home page

Pump Operators

At a Glance

  • Control the transport of oil and gas between wells, tanks, and vehicles
  • Work alone most of the time
  • May work days, evenings, or weekends
  • Train on the job

Career summary

Pump operators control the transport of oil and natural gas between wells and storage tanks.

#No alternate titles CJ

Pump operators start the pumps and open the valves to move oil or natural gas. They watch meters and gauges that monitor the temperature, pressure, and flow rate of materials. Operators record the meter and gauge readings.

Pump operators adjust the pumps or other equipment when they see readings that indicate a problem. They record the adjustments they make and the meter and gauge readings.

Depending on the materials they work with, operators may add chemicals to storage tanks. They take samples of the materials to learn if the chemicals had the desired effect. They test the samples themselves or send them to labs for processing.

Pump operators maintain their pumps and other equipment. They do basic maintenance such as cleaning and oiling parts. They may repair or replace broken parts. Some operators connect hoses or pipes to pumps or storage tanks.

Related careers

This career is part of the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to pump operators.

Common work activities

Pump operators perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, pump operators:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Pump operators frequently:

It is important for pump operators to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for pump operators to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Pump operators need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a pump operator, you typically need to:

Education after high school

No formal education is required for this occupation beyond high school.

Work experience

Any experience safely operating equipment can help you get a trainee position. Wellhead pumpers typically need one to five years of related work experience.

On-the-job training

Pump operators learn their skills on the job. You work closely with an experienced operator. You may begin as an assistant and help set up, dismantle, and service the equipment. As you gain experience, you work on more difficult tasks. The length of training varies by employer and the type of pump. Training can last up to one year.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be petroleum supply specialists. Training lasts four to eight weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate. You should consider taking Algebra and Geometry as your math courses and Chemistry and Physics as your science courses.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers require pump operators to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers look for applicants who can physically do the job. They prefer applicants who have mechanical skills.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Currently, there is no specific statewide wage information for gas compressor and gas pumping station operators, for wellhead pumpers, or for pump operators (except wellhead pumpers).

Gas compressor and gas pumping station operators (SOC 53-7071)

Pay Period
Washington Wages for this occupation are not available.
United States Hourly $19.34 $24.34 $31.35 $36.38 $39.64
Monthly $3,352 $4,218 $5,433 $6,305 $6,870
Yearly $40,220 $50,620 $65,210 $75,660 $82,450

Pump operators, except wellhead pumpers (SOC 53-7072)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $19.98 $20.84 $22.24 $23.63 $24.47
Monthly $3,463 $3,612 $3,854 $4,095 $4,241
Yearly $41,560 $43,360 $46,250 $49,150 $50,890
United States Hourly $13.91 $16.70 $21.34 $27.89 $35.10
Monthly $2,411 $2,894 $3,698 $4,833 $6,083
Yearly $28,930 $34,740 $44,380 $58,000 $73,010

Wellhead pumpers (SOC 53-7073)

Pay Period
Washington Wages for this occupation are not available.
United States Hourly $15.04 $18.61 $25.72 $31.97 $38.43
Monthly $2,606 $3,225 $4,457 $5,540 $6,660
Yearly $31,280 $38,700 $53,490 $66,500 $79,930

Wages vary by specialty. Wages also vary by employer and area of the country. The worker's level of responsibility and experience also affect wages.

Pump operators who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

#Currently, there is no specific statewide outlook information available for gas compressor and gas pumping station operators or for wellhead pumpers.

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Gas Compressor and Gas Pumping Station Operators (SOC 53-7071)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
United States 3,600 -2.8% 5.2% 400

Pump Operators, Except Wellhead Pumpers (SOC 53-7072)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 89 4.5% 16.1% 11
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 16 6.3% 13.4% 2
    Benton and Franklin Counties 41 -2.4% 15.0% 4
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 25 4.0% 15.2% 3
United States 11,600 9.5% 5.2% 1,600

Wellhead Pumpers (SOC 53-7073)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
United States 14,400 -0.7% 5.2% 1,700

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will grow slower than average. Demand has increased slightly as the US continues to look for ways to produce energy. There has been an increase in drilling for natural gas that has also led to some growth for pump operators.

Job openings will continue to occur as operators leave this occupation.

Other resources


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupations

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters