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Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related Workers

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NOC:8232,8412
Occupation:Oil and Gas Drillers, Operators, and Related Workers
Category:Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

About the job

Nature of work:

Oil and gas well drillers and well servicers control the operation of drilling and hoisting equipment on drilling and service rigs, and direct the activities of the rig crew under supervision of the rig manager. Oil and gas well loggers, testers and related workers operate specialized mechanical or electronic equipment, tools or instruments to provide services in conjunction with well drilling, completion or servicing. Workers in this group are employed by drilling and well service contractors, petroleum producing companies and well logging or testing companies.

Oil and gas well drilling workers operate drilling and service rig machinery as intermediate members of the rig crew. Oil and gas well services operators drive trucks and operate specialized hydraulic pumping systems to place cement in wells or to treat wells with chemicals, sand mixtures or gases to stimulate production. Workers in this group are employed by drilling and well service contractors and by petroleum producing companies.

Job duties:
The following is a summary of some of the duties performed by oil and gas drillers, operators, and related workers:
  • Oil and gas well drillers direct rig crew in setting up rigs and drilling, completing or servicing oil and gas exploration and producing wells; operate controls of drill or service rig drilling and hoisting machinery; train or arrange for training of crew; maintain records of drilling and servicing operations; and ensure safety procedures are followed.
  • Oil and gas well loggers and testers drive well service or wireline truck to well site; assemble and attach equipment, tools or recorders to drill stem or wireline to conduct required procedures and tests; operate or direct the operation of wireline or unit controls to lower, position and retrieve equipment and instruments; operate recorders and computers in mobile testing or logging unit to collect data; and may perform limited data interpretation.
  • Oil and gas well drilling workers use specialized equipment, information and maps to determine and document the location of buried pipelines and other utilities; align and manipulate sections of pipe or drill stem from platform on rig derrick during removal and replacement of strings of pipe, or drill stem and drill bit; operate and maintain drilling mud systems and pumps during drilling, and mix mud, chemicals and additives; record mud flows and volumes and take samples; and operate and maintain mechanical equipment.
  • Oil and gas well service operators drive well services truck to well site; assemble pumping equipment and attach pumps and hoses to wellhead; operate hydraulic pumping systems to pump chemicals, gases, sand, cement or other material into well; read gauges to monitor pressure, density, rate and concentration and adjust pumping procedure as required; and may mix chemicals and cements.
Sample job titles:
  • control room operator - offshore drilling
  • driller - oil and gas drilling
  • gas tester - oil field services
  • logging and perforating operator - oil field services
  • motorhand - oil and gas drilling
  • pipeline locator - oil and gas
  • pumper operator - oil field services
  • rig technician
  • service rig operator - oil field services
  • well testing operator - oil and gas drilling
Skills:

To work in these jobs, you should have good health, physical stamina, and strength. Agility, coordination, and a mechanical aptitude would also be helpful. You must be able to take direction and carry out instructions given by supervisors.

Job requirements:
  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • A college diploma in drilling or may be required.
  • Completion of a college program in electronics or engineering technology may be required for open hole well logging.
  • Completion of petroleum industry-approved training courses may be required.
  • Oil and gas well drillers and well servicers require three to six months of formal on-the-job training, college or petroleum industry-approved training courses and four or more years of work experience in subordinate rig crew positions.
  • Oil and gas well loggers, testers and related workers require three to six months of formal on-the-job training and several years of experience in subordinate logging and testing positions or on drilling and servicing rigs.
  • Training of up to three months with an experienced operator is required for oil and gas well services operators.
  • Certificates in first aid, hydrogen sulphide awareness, blowout prevention, well control, workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS), transportation of dangerous goods (TDG) and a special oil well operator (boiler) certificate are required for Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers.
  • Certificates in first aid, hydrogen sulphide awareness, blowout prevention, well control, workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS), transportation of dangerous goods (TDG), cryogenic safety or in other safety concerns may be required for Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators.
  • A provincial blaster's licence, and seismic blaster and oil well blaster certification are required for well perforation services.
  • Rig technician certification for motorhands and derrickhands may be required by some employers.
  • Red Seal certification (allowing for interprovincial mobility) is available for qualified rig technicians.
Other considerations:

Mobility between jobs on drilling and service rigs is limited by the differences in the machinery, tools and operations performed, but mobility is possible especially from drilling to service rigs. Progression to crew supervisor or manager is possible with experience and additional education and training. Offshore work requires several years of experience in an equivalent position on land. One year of experience as a floorhand, assistant or labourer is usually required before entry into these positions.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Limited

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “limited”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is below average when compared with other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent and jobseekers may face competition. The number employed in this occupation is expected to decline significantly over the next few years, which will limit the number of new opportunities available. 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. Oil and Gas Drillers, Operators, and Related Workers most commonly work full-time hours. 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.

The median employment income for 24% of Oil and Gas Drillers, Operators, and Related Workers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $82,282. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

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
Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related Workers280Decline sharply-40High
Minimum: $16.00
Median: $32.00
Maximum: $45.67
Minimum: $28,314
Median: $83,575
Maximum: $196,292
All NS Occupations427,305Weak growth33,315Moderate
Minimum: $11.00
Median: $19.89
Maximum: $40.00
Minimum: $2,872
Median: $29,983
Maximum: $83,126
Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related WorkersCompared to: All NS Occupations
Percent employed full-time92%78%
Percent self-employed15%10%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentOil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related WorkersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Southern4%x12%$30,581
Northern26%x16%$33,660
Cape Breton28%x13%$32,974
Halifax26%x47%$41,209
Annapolis Valley16%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeOil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related WorkersCompared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% Employed% Employed
15-244%x
25-3431%8%
35-4434%19%
45-5419%42%
55-6411%26%
65+1%4%
Median Agex45
GenderOil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related WorkersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% Employed% Employed
Female0%49%
Male100%51%
EducationOil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related WorkersCompared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school10.1%$41,60134.0%$14,445
High school25.1%$69,03131.5%$14,229
Trades certificate31.3%$72,25514.0%$19,107
College certificate or diploma29.1%x14.3%$21,289
University certificate or diploma2.2%x1.1%$17,641
Bachelor's degree2.2%x4.3%$15,980
University advanced certificate or diplomaN/Ax0.3%$17,206
Master's degreeN/Ax0.4%x
DoctorateN/Ax0.1%$10,708
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometry1.1%xN/AN/A
Total100%100%
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.

Sources

Employment Requirements & Contacts

Regulations:
Rig Technician
Certificate of Qualification (Voluntary):This job is a designated trade in Nova Scotia. Employers may require certification, however, a certificate is not needed to legally work in this job.
Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
2021 Brunswick Street, PO Box 578
Halifax, NS B3J 2S9
(800) 494-5651
(902) 424-0717
apprenticeship@novascotia.ca
Useful contacts:
Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Occupational Health and Safety Division
PO Box 697, 5151 Terminal Road
Halifax, NS B3J 2T8
Tel: (902) 424-5300
ohsdivision@novascotia.ca
Enform
5055 - 11th Street NE
Calgary, AB T2E 8N4
Tel: (800) 667-5557
customerservice@enform.ca
Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
Suite 1250, 3500 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West
Westmount, QC H3Z 3C1
Tel: (514) 939-2710
Fax: (514) 939-2714
cim@cim.org
Red Seal
c/o Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency PO Box 578
Halifax, B3J 2S9
Tel: (902) 424-5651
Fax: (902) 424-0717

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
Blanche.Theriault@usainteanne.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Annapolis Valley Campus
50 Elliott Road
Lawrencetown, NS B0S 1M0
(902) 825-3491
avc.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Cumberland Campus
PO Box 550, 1 Main Street
Springhill, NS B0M 1X0
(902) 597-3737
cumberland.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Akerley Campus
21 Woodlawn Road
Dartmouth, NS B2W 2R7
(902) 491-4900
akerley.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus
372 Pleasant Street
Yarmouth, NS B5A 2L2
(902) 742-3501
burridge.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus
236 Belcher Street
Kentville, NS B4N 0A6
(902) 678-7341
kingstec.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Lunenburg Campus
75 High Street
Bridgewater, NS B4V 1V8
(902) 543-4608
lunenburg.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus
5685 Leeds Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2T3
(902) 491-6722
it.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Pictou Campus & School of Fisheries
PO Box 820, 39 Acadia Avenue
Stellarton, NS B0K 1S0
(902) 752-2002
pictou.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Shelburne Campus
PO Box 760, 1575 Lake Road
Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0
(902) 875-8640
shelburne.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute
226 Reeves Street
Port Hawkesbury, NS B9A 2A2
(902) 625-2380
strait.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus
PO Box 1042, 1240 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6J7
(902) 563-2450
marconi.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus
36 Arthur Street
Truro, NS B2N 1X5
(902) 893-5385
truro.info@nscc.ca
Program Name:Electrical, electronic and communications engineering technology/technician
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 basic engineering principles and technical skills in support of electrical, electronics and communication engineers. These programs include courses in electrical circuitry, prototype development and testing; systems analysis and testing, systems maintenance, instrument calibration, and report preparation.
See all institutions providing this program+
Nova Scotia Community College - Cumberland Campus
PO Box 550, 1 Main Street
Springhill, NS B0M 1X0
(902) 597-3737
cumberland.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus
236 Belcher Street
Kentville, NS B4N 0A6
(902) 678-7341
kingstec.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Pictou Campus & School of Fisheries
PO Box 820, 39 Acadia Avenue
Stellarton, NS B0K 1S0
(902) 752-2002
pictou.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus
PO Box 1042, 1240 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6J7
(902) 563-2450
marconi.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Waterfront Campus & Aviation Institute
80 Mawiomi Place
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 0A5
(902) 491-1100
waterfront.info@nscc.ca
Program Name:Petroleum technology/technician
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 basic engineering principles and technical skills in support of engineers and other professionals engaged in the development and operation of oil and natural gas extraction and processing facilities. These programs include courses in principles of petroleum extraction and related geology, petroleum field mapping and site analysis, testing and sampling methods, instrument calibration, laboratory analysis, test equipment operation and maintenance, environment and safety monitoring procedures for oil/gas fields and facilities, facility inspection procedures, and report preparation.
See all institutions providing this program+
Cape Breton University
PO Box 5300 1250 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6L2
(888) 959-9995
registrar@cbu.ca
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
lw.mds@ns.sympatico.ca 
Additional resources: