Pulp jobs, which can be found in the pulp and paper industry, span the spectrum from a semi-skilled workforce to highly trained engineers and chemists. There are different processes involved in manufacturing pulp and paper and many of them rely on machines, which require workers to operate them correctly and safely. Some of these workers operate an envelope machine, which folds paper into the shape of an envelope, or a digester, which mixes the ingredients together to make paper. These machines and others require maintenance to keep them running smoothly, leading to the need for a variety of maintenance employees, electricians, pipe fitters and millwrights. Chemists oversee production and product quality, while some engineers look for new or better ways to make the products, and others oversee the complex equipment.
There are different phases involved in the creation of pulp and paper, and all require a different set of skills. Backtending, for example, is just one of several pulp jobs involved in production. A backtender is the employee who runs the machine that dries and places paper in rolls. Administrative and clerical workers can also find employment in a variety of pulp jobs. Others who are needed in the pulp industry are assistants for the engineers and chemists, plus people to test the finished product. Artists and graphic designers can also work in pulp jobs, designing the packaging or the lettering. Salesmen, computer programmers and advertising professionals, too, may work in this industry.
Many pulp jobs call for a higher education, either at a technical school or college. Preparation for a pulp manufacturing career can begin in high school, with emphasis on math and science courses, including physics and chemistry. For some jobs, the ability to read a blueprint is important, as is the skill to draw technical documents. Other employees need different skills, such as the barker operator, the worker responsible for running a machine that cleans wood of its bark. Another employee will operate a chipper, which chips large logs into very small pieces. The employee who runs the digester is a sort of computer-aided cook, mixing all the chemicals, water and chips in proper proportions to make pulp.
Foresters, too, are an integral part of the pulp and paper industry, because without their vigilance in growing and protecting forests, the prime ingredient that makes pulp and paper would be endangered. Their job entails planting, harvesting, and fire protection.