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Career profile Furnace Operator

Also known as Annealing Operator, Dry Kiln Operator, Dryer Feeder, Evaporator Operator, Furnace Operator, Kiln Fireman, Kiln Operator, Lime Kiln and Recausticizing Operator, Oven Operator

Furnace Operator

Also known as Annealing Operator, Dry Kiln Operator, Dryer Feeder

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$27,010 - $60,310 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Production and Processing
  • Public Safety and Security
Core tasks
  • Monitor equipment operation, gauges, and panel lights to detect deviations from standards.
  • Press and adjust controls to activate, set, and regulate equipment according to specifications.
  • Confer with supervisors or other equipment operators to report equipment malfunctions or to resolve production problems.
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What does a Furnace Operator do?

Furnace Operators operate or tend heating equipment other than basic metal, plastic, or food processing equipment.

In addition, Furnace Operators includes activities such as annealing glass, drying lumber, curing rubber, removing moisture from materials, or boiling soap.

What kind of tasks does a Furnace Operator perform regularly?

Furnace Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Monitor equipment operation, gauges, and panel lights to detect deviations from standards.
  • Press and adjust controls to activate, set, and regulate equipment according to specifications.
  • Confer with supervisors or other equipment operators to report equipment malfunctions or to resolve production problems.
  • Record gauge readings, test results, and shift production in log books.
  • Read and interpret work orders and instructions to determine work assignments, process specifications, and production schedules.
  • Examine or test samples of processed substances, or collect samples for laboratory testing, to ensure conformance to specifications.
  • Transport materials and products to and from work areas, manually or using carts, handtrucks, or hoists.

The above responsibilities are specific to Furnace Operators. More generally, Furnace Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

What is a Furnace Operator salary?

The median salary for a Furnace Operator is $40,670, and the average salary is $41,910. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Furnace Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Furnace Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Furnace Operators earn less than $27,010 per year, 25% earn less than $32,670, 75% earn less than $50,390, and 90% earn less than $60,310.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Furnace Operators is expected to change by 5.1%, and there should be roughly 1,800 open positions for Furnace Operators every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$27,010 - $60,310
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Furnace Operators?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Furnace Operator are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Furnace Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Furnace Operators typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Furnace Operator tend to value Support, Independence, and Relationships.

Most importantly, Furnace Operators very strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Furnace Operators moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Furnace Operators moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Furnace Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Furnace Operators, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Furnace Operators need?

Working as a Furnace Operator usually requires a high school diploma.

Furnace Operators need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Furnace Operators

  • 7.5% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 45.5% completed high school or secondary school
  • 29.1% completed some college coursework
  • 8.3% earned a Associate's degree
  • 9.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.2% earned a Master's degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Furnace Operators

Furnace Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, production and processing, or public safety and security knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Furnace Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Furnace Operators

Furnace Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Furnace Operators need abilities such as problem sensitivity, control precision, and oral comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Furnace Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

Critical Skills needed by Furnace Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Furnace Operators frequently use skills like operations monitoring, reading comprehension, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Furnace Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.