Pulp and Paper Mill Operator Kaiwhakamahi Mīra Puru Rākau

Pulp and paper mill operators operate, maintain and repair machines that make pulp and paper.

Pulp and paper mill operators may do some or all of the following:

  • operate machinery and equipment
  • use computer-controlled systems to check the performance of machines
  • test quality of pulp and paper
  • make sure safety requirements are met
  • make sure the finished product matches client's expectations 
  • supervise a team and do administration duties
  • repair and correct machinery and equipment.

Physical Requirements

Pulp and paper mill operators need to be reasonably fit as they spend a long time on their feet.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for pulp and paper workers includes:

  • work using machinery and computers
  • engineering experience
  • any manufacturing experience, especially work in chemical-based manufacturing.  

Personal Qualities

Pulp and paper mill operators should be:

  • reliable
  • careful
  • accurate
  • safety-conscious
  • able to work well in a team
  • able to follow instructions.


Pulp and paper mill operators need to have knowledge of:

  • how to operate pulp and paper-making machinery
  • the production process and how to correct minor faults
  • chemical properties and their effect on pulp and paper
  • safety procedures.


Pulp and paper mill operators:

  • work shifts, as pulp and paper mills usually operate 24 hours a day
  • may work 12-hour shifts, with four days on and four days off
  • work in pulp and paper mills
  • work in conditions that may be hot, dirty and noisy. They may work in enclosed spaces or with chemicals.

Subject Recommendations

There are no specific secondary school education requirements to become a pulp and paper mill operator. However, chemistry, construction and mechanical technologies, digital technologies, maths and processing technologies are useful.

Pulp and Paper Mill Operators can earn around $47K-$50K per year.

Pay for pulp and paper mill operators varies depending on experience.

  • Trainee pulp and paper mill operators usually earn between minimum wage and $50,000 a year.
  • Qualified pulp and paper mill operators can earn between 50,000 and $100,000.

Pulp and paper mill operators may also earn shift allowances.

Sources: Competenz 2017; Stats NZ, '2013 Census data', 2017. 

Pulp and paper mill operators may progress into management or supervisory roles.

Years Of Training

1-2 years of training required.

There are no specific entry requirements to become a pulp and paper mill operator, however a forklift licence is useful.

Pulp and paper mill operators train on the job through an apprenticeship, and can complete a New Zealand Certificate in Pulp and Paper Manufacturing (Level 3 and Level 4) through Competenz.

Pulp and Paper Mill Operator