Incinerator operator

Incinerator operator article illustration


Incinerator operators tend incineration machines that burn refuse and waste. They ensure the equipment is maintained and that the incineration process occurs in accordance with safety regulations for incineration waste.

The duties of an incinerator operator typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Operating and maintaining incineration equipment to burn waste materials safely
  • Monitoring the incineration process to ensure that it is functioning correctly
  • Troubleshooting and repairing any issues with the incineration equipment
  • Ensuring the proper disposal of ash and gas produced by the incineration process
  • Maintaining accurate records of all maintenance and repairs performed on the incineration equipment
  • Coordinating with other staff members to ensure the proper functioning of the incineration plant

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to incinerator operator:

incinerator worker
incinerating machine operative
waste-burning plant operator
waste incinerating machine operative
domestic waste incineration operative
refuse worker
waste incinerating machine operator
incineration process operative
refuse operative
incinerating machine worker
incinerating machine operator
incinerator operative
waste incinerator operative
waste incinerating machine worker
waste incinerator worker
incineration process worker
waste-burning plant operative
incineration process operator

Working conditions

Incinerator operators often work in industrial settings such as waste management facilities or power plants. The job may require working in confined spaces or around hazardous chemicals and gases, so following strict safety protocols is crucial. Incinerator operators may also need to work in shifts, including evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to become an incinerator operator. Many employers also require vocational training or an associate degree in a related field, such as industrial maintenance or process technology. In addition to formal education, on-the-job training is also essential to become proficient in the job duties of an incinerator operator.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Incinerator operator is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Incinerator operator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to incinerator operator.

solid waste operator
liquid waste treatment plant operator
hazardous waste inspector
occupational health and safety inspector
hazardous waste technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of incinerator operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of incinerator operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

environmental policy officer
paper engineer
recycling specialist
emergency response coordinator
waste management officer

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of incinerator operator.

  • Thermal treatment: Technologies used for the treatment and processing of waste, which involve high temperatures and the processes involving the combustion of waste materials and energy recovery from waste treatment.
  • Metrology: The methods and theory of measurement in a scientific context, including internationally accepted units of measurement, practical realisation of these units, and interpretation of measurements.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of incinerator operator.

  • Calibrate waste incinerator: Calibrate the furnace used in burning waste materials and the potential energy recovery from incineration processes by measuring the operation settings, such as temperature and pressure, and changing them to the required settings to ensure efficient and safe operations.
  • Measure furnace temperature: Monitor the product temperature using the available tools and measuring instruments and adjust the furnace temperature if needed.
  • Ensure compliance with waste legislative regulations: Implement and monitor company procedures for collecting, transporting, and disposing of waste in compliance with all regulations and legal requirements.
  • Operate waste incinerator: Operate a type of furnace that is used for the burning of waste and which may facilitate energy recovery, compliant with regulations.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear: Wear relevant and necessary protective gear, such as protective goggles or other eye protection, hard hats, and safety gloves.
  • Maintain waste incinerator: Maintain furnace equipment for burning waste and refuse by performing routine maintenance tasks, identifying faults, and performing repairs.
  • Monitor incineration process: Monitor the procedures involved in the incineration of waste and potential energy recovery from the process, to ensure that it is compliant with health, safety, and environmental regulations and to ensure the efficiency and proper functioning of the incineration equipment.
  • Conduct inter-shift communication: Communicate relevant information about the conditions in the workplace, progress, events, and potential problems to the workers in the next shift.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of incinerator operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Waste management: The methods, materials, and regulations used to collect, transport, treat and dispose of waste. This includes recycling and monitoring waste disposal.
  • Hazardous waste treatment: The methods applied in the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste such as asbestos, dangerous chemicals, and various contaminants, as well as the surrounding environmental regulations and legislation.
  • Pollution legislation: Be familiar with European and National legislation regarding the risk of pollution.
  • Hazardous waste types: The different types of waste which pose risks to the environment or public health and safety, such as radioactive waste, chemicals and solvents, electronics, and mercury-containing waste.
  • Environmental legislation: The environmental policies and legislation applicable in a certain domain.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of incinerator operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Ensure compliance with environmental legislation: Monitor activities and perform tasks ensuring compliance with standards involving environmental protection and sustainability, and amend activities in the case of changes in environmental legislation. Ensure that the processes are compliant with environmental regulations and best practices.
  • Sort waste: Manually or automatically sort waste by separating it into different elements.
  • Assess waste type: Identify waste materials during collection and sorting operations that can either be recycled, disposed of, or otherwise treated to assess how they need to be treated and sorted.
  • Dispose of hazardous waste: Dispose of dangerous materials such as chemical or radioactive substances according to environmental, health, and safety regulations.
  • Dispose of non-hazardous waste: Dispose of waste materials that pose no risk to health and safety in a manner that complies with recycling and waste management procedures.
  • Identify hazards in the workplace: Perform safety audits and inspections on workplaces and workplace equipment. Ensure that they meet safety regulations and identify hazards and risks.
  • Report pollution incidents: Examine the extent of the damage and consequences when an incident causes pollution, and report it to the relevant institution following pollution reporting procedures.

ISCO group and title

3132 – Incinerator and water treatment plant operators

  1. Incinerator operator – ESCO
  2. Incinerator Operator | Job Description –
  3. Featured image: By The wub – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on April 18, 2023