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Field Production Operator

Field production operators are responsible for the initial separation processes or the special treatment required to ensure that impurities such as water, gas and sediments are removed from oil and gas in the field. Once separated, the oil or gas is transported by pipeline to refineries, gas plants or markets.

  • Avg. Salary $80,155.00
  • Avg. Wage $38.03
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 6,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Gas Field Production Operator, Oil Field Production Operator, Production Field Operator

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators (9232) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators (J112) 
  • 2011 NOC: Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators (9232) 
  • 2016 NOC: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing (9232) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Field Production Operator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators

Interest in controlling process start-up, shut-down and troubleshooting; and in operating electronic or computerized control panels from a central control room; and in shutting down, isolating and preparing process units or production equipment for maintenance


Interest in analyzing information to develop operator procedures for normal operations, start-up and shut-down of units; and in participating in safety audits and programs, and in providing emergency response when required


Interest in speaking with team members and trainees to authorize or co-sign maintenance work orders; in ensuring adherence to safety and environmental regulations; may work in a team with shared supervisory responsibilities and participate in training other workers

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 16, 2016

Depending on the company, field production operators may be responsible for the field production of oil wells or gas wells, or both. They optimize production by:

  • monitoring production and running diagnostics on well performance
  • maintaining flow lines
  • scheduling and supervising down hole wireline dewaxing programs on flowing oil wells
  • monitoring down hole pump efficiency on artificial lift wells and reporting malfunctions
  • identifying failed equipment and reporting which replacement parts are needed.

Senior production operators also may:

  • identify safety hazards and issue safe work permits
  • supervise work crews to ensure safe operating practices and compliance with legislated and corporate requirements
  • monitor environmental issues and report any incidents to regulatory bodies.

Oil field production operators usually are responsible for a number of wells (the number depending on the size of the oil field, level of automation, production systems and company operating the wells). Specific duties vary from one position to another and from one company to another. For example, some oil field production operators, called pumpers, only are responsible for checking wellhead equipment. Other oil field production operators, called battery operators, work entirely at batteries (field stations that have treatment units, water disposal units and storage units). However, in most companies, oil field production operators are responsible for wellhead equipment, batteries and satellite facilities.

If enhanced recovery methods such as carbon dioxide or water injection are used, field production operators may operate either system. In the case of steam flood operations, operators must have additional power engineering certification.

In general, oil field production operators:

  • take pressure and flow readings at oil wells
  • compute and record well test data
  • examine equipment on the wellhead to ensure it is running properly
  • inspect flow lines from the oil well
  • supervise hot oilers and pressure trucks
  • examine oil lines for leaks, hydrates or wax plugging
  • maintain equipment and troubleshoot problems
  • isolate parts of systems for inspection, repair and cleaning
  • report their findings, sometimes by mobile radio
  • maintain good relations with land owners.

At treatment units in batteries, they may:

  • obtain samples and readings
  • input data to a computer program
  • conduct basic tests on different substances
  • add chemicals to the unit
  • maintain equipment.

At water disposal units and oil storage tanks, they usually:

  • measure pressures, temperatures and flow rates
  • check storage capabilities
  • measure levels in the tanks
  • maintain equipment.

Depending on the level of automation of the field systems and processes, field production operators may have to manually close and open or adjust valves and pressures in an area. They also check the gathering systems that transport any unused gas from the battery to the gas plant or other markets.

In some fields, oil field production operators also may handle maintenance. Those who work with a helper are responsible for training the helper.

Gas field production operators are responsible for a number of gas wells depending on the level of automation, the processes and systems used, the size of the gas field and the employing organization. The amount of travel required depends on whether gas wells are near each other or scattered in isolated areas.

At each well, gas field production operators:

  • check equipment that controls the flow and pressure of the well
  • check valves, flowlines and hydrate suppression systems
  • take readings of temperatures, pressures and flow rates
  • take gas samples
  • maintain equipment.

They also may bring on wells or shut in wells. Where there are no dehydration facilities near a gas well, operators must check the heaters in the gathering system. When there are problems, they may have to:

  • relight pilot lights
  • check for corrosion and flowline leaks
  • adjust valves that control flow from various gathering lines
  • check compressors
  • add corrosion inhibitors or dewpoint depression chemicals.

If dehydration facilities are near the gas well, field production operators may:

  • record readings
  • take samples
  • conduct basic tests on the samples.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Oil and gas field production operators are required to drive to a variety of work sites and may be required to lift items weighing up to 20 kilograms or more. They must be aware of potential hazards (for example, exposure to toxic chemicals such as hydrogen sulphide) and know how to handle emergency situations.

Oil field production operators may work out of a battery or field station. They often are required to work shifts and be on call.

Gas field production operators work out of a field station or gas plant. They generally work only during the day but they may be on call 24 hours a day.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Field production operators need the following characteristics:

  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • mechanical aptitude
  • analytical skills
  • good eye-hand co-ordination
  • excellent vision including colour vision
  • good hearing
  • agility, endurance and the ability to lift heavy equipment
  • mathematical ability (to prepare charts and graphs)
  • the ability to work with little supervision
  • excellent judgment and a concern for safety
  • the ability to work under pressure and make quick decisions.

They should enjoy controlling equipment, instruments and machinery, analyzing information to solve problems, and working with others in a team.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

There are no formal educational requirements for field production operators but employers usually prefer to hire people who have at least a high school diploma. Previous work experience with machines or electrical equipment is a definite asset.

Field production operators are trained on the job and take first aid and safety training courses, for example:

  • Petroleum Safety Training (PST)
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Hydrogen Sulfide Awareness (H2S)
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG)  
  • First Aid.

In Alberta, post-secondary schools throughout the province offer power engineering courses that may be useful for people interested in becoming field production operators. Oil field production operators who wish to operate steam injection units used in enhanced recovery operations must have at least a Fourth Class Power Engineering Certificate. Gas field production operators may benefit from taking gas processing operations training.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Grande Prairie Regional College

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Field production operators are employed by companies involved in the production of oil and gas. Information on field production operator positions usually can be obtained by contacting company field offices or gas plants which often are located in or around smaller centres in Alberta.

Inexperienced people usually start off as helpers on a contract basis or as junior field production operators. Depending on the company, there may be different categories of helpers or junior operators. After individuals have sufficient on-the-job experience and have completed additional courses from the company or other sources, they may move into field production operator positions.

From field production operator positions, individuals with initiative may be able to work toward supervisory or management positions in the company. With additional technical education or training, they may become:

  • gas plant operators
  • petroleum process operators
  • well servicing supervisors
  • gaugers on a pipeline.

Field production operators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 9232: Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators. In Alberta, 84% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the J112: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 60 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

In 2014, Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) Division of Enform (formerly the Petroleum Human Resources Council) indicated more than 20% of the workforce in the oil and gas industry is eligible for retirement, contributing to the labour demand required to support the industry.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $16.50 $53.81 $32.22 $30.00
Overall $17.00 $56.59 $38.03 $34.66
Top $17.00 $66.60 $44.27 $41.59

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Careers in Oil + Gas website:

Enform website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 09, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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