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Apprenticeship

Rig Technician

Rig technicians operate oil and gas drilling rigs.

  • Avg. Salary $66,125.00
  • Avg. Wage $31.06
  • Minimum Education Apprenticeship
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 18,100
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Derrickhand, Driller, Motorhand, Oil and Gas Well Drilling Operator, Roughneck

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: Oil and Gas Well Drillers and Well Servicers (8232.1);  Oil and Gas Well Drilling Workers (8412.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related Workers (I132);  Oil and Gas Well Drilling Workers and Services Operators (I142) 
  • 2011 NOC: Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers (8232);  Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators (8412) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

37%
37%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Rig Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Oil and Gas Well Drillers and Well Servicers
OBJECTIVE

Interest in controlling the operations of drilling and service rig drilling and hoisting machinery

DIRECTIVE

Interest in speaking with members of rig crew to direct them in setting up rigs, drilling and completing and servicing oil and gas exploration and producing wells

methodical

Interest in compiling information to maintain records of drilling and servicing operations

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

Oil and Gas Well Drilling Workers
OBJECTIVE

Interest in controlling and maintaining drilling mud systems and pumps during drilling and mixing of mud chemicals and additives; and in operating and maintaining diesel motors, transmissions and other mechanical equipment

METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to record mud flows and volumes and to take samples; and in assisting in setting up, taking down and transporting rigs

directive

Interest in speaking with floor hands and labourers to supervise their activities

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

Duties
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Drilling rigs drill the initial holes for oil or gas wells. Each rig consists of a derrick, draw-works and other surface equipment to provide the forces needed for a drill pipe to bore a hole into the earth. After the drilling rig reaches the layer of earth that contains oil or gas, rig technicians remove the drilling rig from the site, and other crews and equipment complete well construction.

In Alberta, people working in the rig technician trade may be certified as a Rig Technician 1, Rig Technician 2 or Rig Technician 3.

Rig Technician 1 personnel (commonly called motorhands):

  • regularly maintain drilling rig engines, transmissions, heating systems, diesel electric generators and motors, hydraulic systems and other mechanical equipment
  • maintain equipment logs and preventative maintenance records as required 
  • monitor inventories of fuels, oil filters, lube oils, greases and other service items
  • work under the direction of the derrickhand and driller
  • supervise, train and work with floorhands and laborers, ensuring they work safely and efficiently
  • participate in rig mobilization and de-mobilization (rig-up and tear-out).

Rig Technician 2 personnel (commonly called derrickhands):

  • operate and maintain drilling fluid systems and pumps during drilling
  • mix fluid chemicals and additives as required by the program
  • handle sections of drill string assembly from a platform on the rig derrick during tripping operations
  • monitor and record mud flows and volumes and fluid properties (mud weight)
  • work under the direction of the driller and assist the driller with crew supervision, ensuring the crew works safely and efficiently
  • participate in rig mobilization and de-mobilization.

Rig Technician 3 personnel (commonly called drillers):

  • supervise rig crews and the operation of drilling equipment, ensuring they work safely and efficiently
  • report directly to drilling rig managers
  • operate the draw-works, rotary equipment and pumps, and supervise the assembly of drill string
  • ensure that safety and support equipment is functioning properly
  • monitor the progress of drilling operations and communicate with well-site supervisors
  • keep a current record of drilling progress
  • train crew members
  • introduce procedures which may help the crew to work more safely or effectively
  • participate in the supervision of rig mobilization and de-mobilization.

Normally an apprentice will spend at least a year in each position.

For information about crews on service rigs, see the Service Rig Personnel occupational profile.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Working conditions vary with the tasks performed, rig location and weather conditions. Rig technicians often work outdoors in remote locations where they may be exposed to extremes in weather as well as the dirt, dust, noise and fumes common around a rig. They may be required to lift items that weigh over 25 kilograms. Employees often are responsible for their own transportation to the work site and may travel widely throughout the province.

Work schedules vary with industry demand. Some rig technicians work two weeks followed by a week off.

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

Rig technicians need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to get along well with co-workers
  • leadership and management skills
  • good communication skills
  • good organizational skills
  • physical strength and stamina
  • emotional stability
  • mechanical aptitude
  • manual dexterity
  • the ability to judge distances and spatial relationships.

They should enjoy working with equipment and machinery, working in a team environment, and compiling information and maintaining records.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

To work in Alberta, a rig technician must be ONE of the following:

  • a registered apprentice
  • an Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate.

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates. 

The full term of apprenticeship is 3 years (three 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and 4 weeks (30 hours per week) of technical training each year.

There are three stages of journeyperson certification in the Rig Technician program:

  • Rig Technician 1 can perform motorhand tasks (first year)
  • Rig Technician 2 can perform motorhand or derrickhand tasks (second year)
  • Rig Technician 3 can perform motorhand, derrickhand or driller tasks(third year).

Technical and on-the-job training are cumulative for the three stages of certification.  However, apprentices may opt out of the Rig Technician 3 program after completing one or more periods and qualify for the stage of certification related to the highest period completed.

Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for credit or certification.

Rig Technician 3 apprentices may take an interprovincial exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most parts of Canada).

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at:

  • the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton 
  • Red Deer College
  • the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.

Outside of the apprenticeship program, Enform in Calgary and Nisku (near Edmonton) offers courses for those employed on drilling rigs. 

To access and work in the oil and gas industry, employees must complete the Enform Electronic General Safety Orientation (eGSO) course. Some employers may provide this training in-house.


Related Education

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

Apprenticeship Trades

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

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

Rig Technician

Rig technicians operate oil and gas drilling rigs. There are three stages of journeyperson certification in Alberta: a Rig Technician 1 can perform motorhand tasks, a Rig Technician 2 can perform motorhand or derrickhand tasks, and a Rig Technician 3 can perform motorhand, derrickhand or driller tasks. For more information, see the Trades and Occupations section of Alberta's Tradesecrets website.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act and Rig Technician Trade Regulation, you must have a certificate that is recognized by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training or be a registered apprentice to perform motorhand, derrickhand or driller tasks on oil and gas drilling rigs in Alberta.

What You Need

The full term of apprenticeship is three years (three 12 month periods) with 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and four weeks (30 hours per week) of technical training in each year. Technical and on-the-job training are cumulative for the three stages of certification. However, apprentices may opt out of the Rig Technician 3 program after completing one or more periods and qualify for the stage of certification related to the highest period completed. Apprentices must find suitable employers who are willing to hire and train apprentices, and successfully complete technical training examinations.

Working in Alberta

Rig technicians from other provinces and territories can work in Alberta if they hold a certificate or license recognized by the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board. For more information, see the Recognized Trade Certificates page of the Tradesecrets website.

Contact Details

Any of the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Client Service Offices located throughout Alberta. For a list of office locations and telephone numbers, click on "Contact Us" on the home page of the Tradesecrets website (tradesecrets.alberta.ca).

This is an Apprenticeship trade. For full details, see the related certification profile

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Rig technicians are employed by contractors who own and operate oil and gas well drilling rigs and contract with oil producers to drill wells. Some rigs operate year round but employment in this occupation may be seasonal. Winter is the busiest season for drilling activity.

Experienced rig technicians may become rig managers or move into other management positions in the drilling industry. Or they may be hired by specialist companies as mud technicians or directional drillers, or move into drilling-related equipment sales or training, regulatory or safety positions. Alberta certified journeyperson rig technicians who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

In Alberta, drillers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 8232: Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers. 82% of people employed in this classification work in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction (PDF) industry.

In Alberta, motorhands and derrickhands are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 8412: Oil and gas well drilling workers and services operators. 80% of people employed in this classification work in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction (PDF) industry.

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

  • time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction industry)
  • 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.

Over 22,000 Albertans are employed in the Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.7% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 154 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As rig technicians form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for rig technicians.

Over 6,200 Albertans are employed in the Oil and gas well drilling workers and services operators occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.6% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 37 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As rig technicians form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for rig technicians.

Although expected occupational growth is below average, frequent recruitment is needed to deal with employment turnover, especially as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years. Experienced employees are in high demand to deal with vacancies.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) recommended wages for October 2014:

  • $33.80 an hour for motorhands plus a living or subsistence allowance (from $50 a day when in camp to $140 a day where there is no camp)
  • $39.10 an hour for derrickhands plus a living or subsistence allowance (as above)
  • $46.20 an hour for drillers plus a living allowance (as above).

Some employers offer bonuses but employment may not be year-round.

Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers

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
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $20.00 $47.14 $30.86 $32.00
Overall $20.60 $53.71 $35.36 $36.00
Top $25.00 $61.43 $39.80 $37.37

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.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
ALL INDUSTRIES
Oil & Gas Extraction
Construction

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

59%
59%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

37%
37%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

9%
9%

Vacancy Rate

3%
Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services 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
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.20 $42.93 $27.75 $28.00
Overall $15.00 $46.58 $31.06 $29.75
Top $19.23 $52.20 $35.53 $32.00

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.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Construction
ALL INDUSTRIES
Oil & Gas Extraction

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

61%
61%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

59%
59%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

20%
20%

Vacancy Rate

10%
Related High School Subjects
  • Natural Resources
    • Primary Resources
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website: tradesecrets.alberta.ca

Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) website: www.caodc.ca

Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC), Rig Tec website: www.rigtech.ca

Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC), Service Rig Drive website: www.servicerigdrive.ca

Enform website: www.enform.ca

Petroleum Human Resources (PHR), Careers in Oil and Gas (COG) website: www.careersinoilandgas.com

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2015. 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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