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Oil Pipeline Operators and Maintenance Workers

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers monitor and conduct the day-to-day operations of oil pipelines, wells, gathering facilities, and associated facilities.

Also Known As

Contract Operator, Control Centre Operator, Employee Operator, Equipment Operator, Gauger, Pipeline Operator, Pipeline Technician, Roustabout, Tank Farm 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

  • 9232: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators

2006 NOC-S

  • J112: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators

2011 NOC

  • 9232: Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators

2016 NOC

  • 9232: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing

2021 NOC

  • 93101: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing

2023 OaSIS

  • 93101.00: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers ensure that pipeline systems operate safely, efficiently, and reliably. Pipeline systems transport oil and oil products via:

  • Flow lines / gathering lines, which connect oil wells to oil batteries (storage facilities)
  • Pipeline gathering systems, which connect production fields to main pipelines
  • Main pipeline transmission lines, which carry oil from major points of production to refineries or other markets

Workers’ responsibilities vary from one company to another. In general, pipeline maintenance workers:

  • Check the equipment and thoroughly record data (pumps, motors, valves, traps) at pumping stations and related sites
  • Coordinate operations with control centre operators
  • Monitor the quality of the products shipped
  • Make adjustments to equipment
  • Respond to problems that occur along the pipeline
  • Use pipeline pigs to clean pipelines
  • Clean and maintain equipment
  • Record chemical levels for pipeline corrosion inhibitors
  • Manage pipeline-corrosion batch programs
  • Manage pipeline water sampling
  • Manage pipeline bio-cide batching (if required)

Although their overall duties are similar, different types of pipeline operators and maintenance workers have different levels of responsibility.

In some companies, tank farm operators work at pumping stations. These are most often located near tank farms (large storage facilities for oil and oil products). From control rooms, they:

  • Monitor instruments that provide information about product levels in storage tanks, including the flow rates, pressures, volumes, densities, and temperatures of products being shipped
  • Operate computers that remotely control valves, product separation mechanisms, and pumps
  • Direct the work of gaugers and utility workers (described below)
  • Monitor the work of contract personnel while at the tank farm and pumping station
  • Check various areas of the pumping station to ensure safe and proper operation
  • Check remote pumping stations
  • Check specialty chemical rates and inventories
  • Supervise bulk tanker truck unloading and loading
  • Maintain and monitor generators, natural gas compressors, gas dehydrator systems, condensate stabilization systems, gas refridge units, gas sweeting units, and water injection pumps / wells

Tank farm operators report directly to station supervisors. They assume supervisory duties when station supervisors are absent.

In other companies, control centre operators monitor and control pipeline activities for large regions. For example, they may control activities not only for Alberta, but also western Canada, all of Canada, and the United States. From control rooms, they:

  • Monitor operations, including measures of flow and product quality, storage levels, line balance, and leak detection
  • Operate control valves, block valves, product separation mechanisms, and pumps
  • Provide information to gaugers, maintenance workers, and other personnel
  • Initiate a company’s emergency response in the event of a pipeline emergency

Other pipeline workers, often called gaugers and utility workers, work at pumping stations. In general, gaugers:

  • Do routine checks of the pumping station or remote stations
  • Take readings and make necessary adjustments
  • Keep detailed records of oil flow, temperature, density, and pipeline pressure
  • Take samples of crude oil to assess quality
  • Take precise readings from meters
  • Maintain equipment
  • Determine month-end tank inventories
  • Prepare calculations for receipts and deliveries of oil and oil products
  • Launch and / or receive pipeline pigs to clear blockages in lines
  • Send batch corrosion inhibitor into a pipeline, and then send a pipeline pig to distribute the inhibitor
  • Send batch solvent into pipelines obstructed with paraffin wax
  • Change and grease pipeline valves
  • Monitor corrosion with coupons (bits of metal that show corrosion rates)
  • Inspect for pipeline leaks
  • Suspend unused lines or abandon old lines in older fields
  • Assist with Smart Tool runs
  • Complete provincial One Call requests
  • Complete aerial patrol sightings if required
  • Grease / service pipeline valves
  • Assist with changing out or repairing valves
  • Respond to pipeline emergency calls or sightings

Under direct supervision, gaugers also may route the correct product to the pumps from the tanks. They may:

  • Check to see that incoming and outgoing products are moving through the correct meters
  • Ensure meters are working properly
  • Take samples of various products
  • Conduct simple laboratory tests to check product quality and grade

Utility workers or roustabouts work closely with and help gaugers. As they gain experience, utility workers often receive more responsibility. After 2 or 3 years, they may advance to gauger positions. Further to their work with gaugers, utility workers take charge of general maintenance and safety. They also perform housekeeping in the pumping station, such as cleaning walls and floors.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Pipeline systems operate 24 hours a day, year-round, so operators may work 10- or 12-hour shifts. They usually work in an office. They may need to work in a camp or be away from home for weeks at a time. Most times they are expected to provide their own transportation to and from location. Other workers may work 10-hour day shifts.

Utility workers and gaugers work both indoors and outdoors. They work in all types of weather. They need to lift heavy items.

All personnel must understand safety procedures for handling oil and oil products.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators

2006 NOC: 9232

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers need:

  • Precision, flexibility, efficiency, and reliability
  • Stamina and endurance to perform repetitive tasks
  • A safety-conscious attitude
  • Communication skills (listening and speaking)
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • The ability to work alone and or as part of a team
  • The ability to work under pressure
  • The ability to create and follow schedules
  • Technology skills such as expertise with spreadsheets and using computers to record data

In an emergency, they must be able to assess the situation and respond to it quickly and correctly. The safety of a number of people and the efficient operation of the oil pipeline system often depends on their judgment. Control centre operators also need good colour vision to interpret colour computer graphics.

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers should enjoy:

  • Taking responsibility
  • Doing physically active work
  • Following prescribed procedures and analyzing information to solve problems
  • Controlling equipment, instruments, and machinery
  • Offroad driving (must know how to drive offroad)
  • Working alone and in remote areas

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing

2016 NOC: 9232

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 21 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between May 23, 2022 and Apr 25, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Health benefits: Health care plan
Health benefits: Dental plan
Tasks: Ensure adherence to safety regulations
Tasks: Monitor outside process equipment
Tasks: Adjust equipment, valves, pumps and controls and process equipment
Work Setting: Remote location
Construction Specialization: Team player
Attention to detail
Tasks: Operate electronic or computerized control panel from a central control room
Tasks: Control process start-up, shut-down and troubleshooting
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education High school diploma

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers most often need a high school education and a valid driver’s license. Employers prefer applicants who have related post-secondary education and training or experience in:

  • Safety procedures, first aid, and CPR
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Mechanics
  • Electrical work
  • Basic electronics or instrumentation
  • Power engineering
  • Chemical engineering technology
  • Petroleum engineering technology
  • Mechanical engineering technology
  • ATV safety
  • Bear awareness
  • Ground Disturbance Level II
  • Line Locator and Line Locator Training
  • Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG)

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers are trained to respond to abnormal pipeline operating conditions. This includes emergencies. Most large employers provide in-house training for new employees. They also provide ongoing courses for experienced employees. Smaller companies may send employees to training providers for technical courses.

Related Education

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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Not Regulated

First- to fourth-class engineering certificates are recommended for all plant workers. It is also an asset for field operators. Steam plant operator / engineering certification is an asset as well.

Most pipeline companies provide internal / in-house training and competency for workers to meet certification requirements.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers typically start at entry-level positions and work their way up from there. Specialized oil pipeline companies and some integrated oil and gas companies operate pipelines. In general, applicants approach these companies directly for information about job openings in pumping station operations.

Inexperienced individuals often start as summer help or utility workers. With experience, they advance to gauger positions. Gaugers may become tank farm operators and station supervisors. Additional courses and technical school programs may be required to move into electronics, control centre operations, or mechanical maintenance positions.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 9232: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing occupational group, 77.9% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 9232: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing occupational group is expected to have an average annual growth of 2.4% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 179 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing

2016 NOC: 9232
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 9232 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $27.85 $62.02 $39.46 $37.00
Overall $35.13 $74.99 $50.78 $50.62
Top $44.85 $90.80 $59.57 $57.50

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

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
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Careers in Energy website:

Energy Safety Canada website:

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

Updated Mar 31, 2024. 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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