Water Well Drillers

Occupation:Water Well Drillers
Category:Trades and Transportation

About the job

Nature of work:

Water well drillers operate a variety of mobile water well drilling rigs and equipment to drill and monitor residential, commercial and industrial water wells.

They are employed by water well drilling contractors and governments, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties:
Water well drillers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Review client requirements and proposed locations for water wells.
  • Operate water well drilling rigs and other equipment to drill, bore and dig for residential, commercial and industrial water wells or environmental assessment, and install well screens, casings and other well fixtures.
  • Document geological formations encountered.
  • Clean and disinfect wells in preparation for use.
  • Perform routine mechanical maintenance work on water well drilling rigs and equipment.
  • Install, test, maintain and repair water well pumps, piping systems and equipment and perform pumping tests to assess well performance.
  • May provide other drilling services, such as repair or dismantling of existing water well structure, elevator shaft drilling and hydro pole drilling.

Water well drillers may specialize in a specific method of drilling, such as cable, rotary, auger, hammer or reverse circulation drilling.

Sample job titles:
  • apprentice water well driller
  • journeyman/woman water well driller
  • pump installer
  • water well driller
  • well digger/driller

For these jobs, you should have good physical strength, stamina, and health. The ability to follow precise instructions and obey safety regulations is essential. You must be cautious, responsible, and able to work as a member of a team. A mechanical aptitude and an ability to use tools would be helpful.

Job requirements:
  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • Completion of a two-to-three-year water well drilling apprenticeship program or two to three years of work experience in the trade combined with college or industry courses in water well drilling is usually required to be eligible for trade certification.
Other considerations:

Mobility is possible among the various well drilling operators in this group. Progression to supervisory positions is possible with experience.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Undetermined

This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Water Well Drillers may either be working full-time or part-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs are typically permanent positions. Also, a fair portion of the workforce is self-employed, so having the option to "work for yourself" may appeal to some individuals’ interests/motivations.

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Water Well Drillers< 50N/AN/AN/A
Minimum:  N/A
Median:  N/A
Maximum:  N/A
Minimum:  N/A
Median: $41,354
Maximum:  N/A
Occupations in Trades and Transportation57,925Decline slightly3,400High
Minimum: $13.00
Median: $20.35
Maximum: $34.00
Minimum: $7,580
Median: $37,269
Maximum: $79,787
Water Well DrillersCompared to: Occupations in Trades and Transportation
Percent employed full-time67%89%
Percent self-employed40%13%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentWater Well DrillersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape BretonN/Ax13%$32,974
Annapolis Valley67%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeWater Well DrillersCompared to: All Trades and Transportation
% Employed% Employed
Median Age6247
GenderWater Well DrillersCompared to: Occupations in Trades and Transportation
% Employed% Employed
EducationWater Well DrillersCompared to: All Trades and Transportation
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school66.7%x18.2%$25,753
High schoolN/Ax25.5%$28,089
Trades certificateN/Ax29.4%$40,890
College certificate or diploma66.7%x22.6%$39,023
University certificate or diplomaN/Ax1.0%$35,969
Bachelor's degreeN/Ax2.7%$36,972
University advanced certificate or diplomaN/Ax0.2%$41,705
Master's degreeN/Ax0.3%x
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryN/Ax0.0%$3,714
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

Pump Installer
Certificate of Qualification (Mandatory):This job is a regulated designated trade in Nova Scotia. Certification is required to work in this job.
Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Department of Environment
PO Box 442
Halifax, NS B3J 2P8
(902) 424-3600
(902) 424-0503
Well Digger/Driller
Certificate of Qualification (Mandatory):This job is a regulated designated trade in Nova Scotia. Certification is required to work in this job.
Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Department of Environment
PO Box 442
Halifax, NS B3J 2P8
(902) 424-3600
(902) 424-0503
Useful contacts:
Nova Scotia Ground Water Association
119 Baker’s Point Road
East Jeddore, NS B0J 1W0
Tel: (888) 242-4440
Fax: (902) 435-0089

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Adult high school/secondary diploma programs
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the high school level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that defines the prescribed requirements, specified by the appropriate jurisdiction, for the completion of and graduation from a secondary school program of academic subject matter offered for adult learners outside of the regular secondary school program. This does not include adult compensatory education programs resulting in completion of a high school equivalency certificate or diploma.
See all institutions providing this program+
Universite Sainte-Anne
Siège Social: 1695, Route 1
Pointe-de-l'Église, NS B0W 1M0
(902) 769-2114
Nova Scotia Community College - Annapolis Valley Campus
50 Elliott Road
Lawrencetown, NS B0S 1M0
(902) 825-3491
Nova Scotia Community College - Cumberland Campus
PO Box 550, 1 Main Street
Springhill, NS B0M 1X0
(902) 597-3737
Nova Scotia Community College - Akerley Campus
21 Woodlawn Road
Dartmouth, NS B2W 2R7
(902) 491-4900
Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus
372 Pleasant Street
Yarmouth, NS B5A 2L2
(902) 742-3501
Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus
236 Belcher Street
Kentville, NS B4N 0A6
(902) 678-7341
Nova Scotia Community College - Lunenburg Campus
75 High Street
Bridgewater, NS B4V 1V8
(902) 543-4608
Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus
5685 Leeds Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2T3
(902) 491-6722
Nova Scotia Community College - Pictou Campus & School of Fisheries
PO Box 820, 39 Acadia Avenue
Stellarton, NS B0K 1S0
(902) 752-2002
Nova Scotia Community College - Shelburne Campus
PO Box 760, 1575 Lake Road
Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0
(902) 875-8640
Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute
226 Reeves Street
Port Hawkesbury, NS B9A 2A2
(902) 625-2380
Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus
PO Box 1042, 1240 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6J7
(902) 563-2450
Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus
36 Arthur Street
Truro, NS B2N 1X5
(902) 893-5385
Program Name:Well drilling/driller
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the trades/college level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to apply technical knowledge and skills to set up, maintain, repair, and operate well drilling equipment; locate, drill, construct, and develop water, gas, and oil wells; and test and monitor wells to ensure adequate flow. These programs include courses with applications to home, business, and industrial uses.
See all institutions providing this program+
Maritime Drilling Schools Ltd.
150 Peppett Street
North Sydney, NS B2A 2P6
(902) 794-1132 
Additional resources: