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Seismic Line Cutter

Seismic line cutters cut and remove trees and other vegetation to clear the way for seismic lines, pipelines or power lines.

  • Avg. Salary $50,914.00
  • Avg. Wage $26.07
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 4,800
  • In Demand Lower
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 Drilling, Servicing and Related Labourers (8615) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Oil and Gas Drilling, Servicing and Related Labourers (I215) 
  • 2011 NOC: Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers (8615) 
  • 2016 NOC: Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers (8615) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Seismic Line Cutter is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Oil and Gas Drilling, Servicing and Related Labourers

Interest in comparing information to handle, sort and move drill tools, pipes, cement and other materials, and to clean up rig areas; may drive trucks to transport materials and well service equipment


Interest in operating equipment to manipulate sections of pipes and drill stems at rig floors during drilling and for removal and replacement of strings of pipes, drill stems and bits


Interest in maintaining drilling equipment on drill floors

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

Seismic line cutters work on line construction crews. Using chainsaws, they cut and remove trees and other vegetation to clear a path for other seismic crews such as surveyors, drillers and helpers (jughounds). They must follow strict guidelines to limit environmental impact, such as:

  • fire and erosion damage from burning
  • disturbance of decomposing material
  • destruction of harvestable trees
  • creation of sight lines that endanger wildlife.

The size of a seismic line cutting crew varies with the nature of the job. Crews usually consist of a team of specialists.

Packers or helpers are entry-level crew members who are learning the role of bucker. In general, they:

  • clear debris on seismic lines
  • carry supplies and assist buckers
  • may operate chainsaws under the direct supervision of buckers.

Buckers follow the instructions given by the crew faller. In general, they:

  • operate chainsaws to de-limb and buck trees (cut fallen trees into logs)
  • clean up debris created from line construction operations
  • carry supplies in and out of the worksite (for example, gasoline, water, spare parts and saws)
  • use portable global positioning system (GPS) receivers for navigating along seismic lines and setting up flags to mark lines and hazards
  • perform maintenance on chainsaws and other equipment.

Fallers operate chainsaws to clear lines for larger equipment to follow. They are responsible for the safe operation and productivity of the line construction crew. In general, fallers:

  • use chainsaws to clear trees and undergrowth to construct trails (usually 1.75-3 metres wide)
  • assess the falling area and appraise trees for characteristics (twists, rot and heavy limb growth)
  • apply knowledge of tree characteristics and cutting techniques to control direction of fall
  • select and clear a proper emergency escape route, communicate falling plan and ensure the active falling area is clear of all workers (must comply with distance standards)
  • clear brush and debris from work area
  • clear undergrowth and cut saplings and other trees from falling path
  • remove dangerous trees that could fall into the workplace.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Crews work outdoors in remote locations. They may have to stay in hotels, motels or camps when away from home for extended periods. They may be exposed to extreme weather, dirt, dust, mud, noise and fumes. Heavy lifting of items weighing up to 20 kilograms often is required.

To avoid injury, seismic line cutters must wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

Seismic line construction crews typically work 10 to 12 hours a day on rotation. Work is seasonal and overtime is common.

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

Seismic line cutters need to have the following characteristics:

  • good problem solving and decision making skills
  • mechanical aptitude
  • a safety conscious attitude
  • the ability to adapt to a number of different environments (mountains, plains)
  • an interest in working outdoors (sometimes in isolated locations) and using various forms of wilderness transportation
  • the ability to work well as part of a team.

They should enjoy having clear rules and guidelines for their work, being physically active and operating and maintaining equipment.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers
NOC code: 8615

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 14 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Dec 26, 2020 and Apr 16, 2021.

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.
Personal Suitability: Team player
Handle, sort and move drill pipes, tools, cement and other materials
Drive trucks to transport materials and well service equipment
Clean up rig areas
Assist in setting up, taking down and transporting drilling and service rigs and service equipment
Write daily basic progress reports
Manipulate sections of pipes or drill stems at rig floor during drilling and during removal and replacement of pipes, drill stems and drill bits
Assist other workers to maintain drilling equipment on drill floor
Area of Specialization: Forklift
Clean machines and immediate work areas
Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

There are no minimum education requirements for entry-level seismic line cutting crew positions. Packers are trained on the job. Employers generally prefer to hire job applicants who have a high school diploma, Class 3 driver's licence with Q endorsement and experience with:

  • manual labour (including heavy lifting)
  • outdoor activities (such as camping, bush travel, use of all-terrain or four-wheel-drive vehicles)
  • chainsaws.

Employers also sponsor safety training related to job duties:

  • WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)
  • First aid/CPR training
  • Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) Awareness
  • All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)
  • Chainsaw Proficiency - Level 1, 2 or 3
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG)
  • General Oilfield Driver Improvement (GODI)
  • Basic Safety Awareness
  • Seasonal Training such as Wildlife Awareness and Cold Weather/Wilderness Awareness
  • Powered Mobile Equipment Operator.

To advance from packer to bucker, and bucker to faller, workers must complete the required amount of work experience in addition to the appropriate level of the Chainsaw Faller Competency Program offered at Enform in Calgary and Nisku (near Edmonton).

Advancement to more senior positions generally requires additional work experience or post-secondary training in heavy equipment operation.

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

Seismic line cutters are employed by:

  • independent exploration, survey and drilling companies
  • companies that specialize in line clearing.

Employment may be seasonal.

Seismic line clearing crew members start as packers and progress to buckers and fallers. With additional training, fallers may advance to faller tutors.

Seismic line cutters are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 8615: Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers. In Alberta, 80% 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 8615: Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 59 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

In 2014, the Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) Division of Enform (formerly the Petroleum Human Resources Council) indicated that 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

Members of line cutting or line clearing crews may be paid an hourly wage or paid by the metre of land cleared. Most employers cover all accommodation costs while the employee is working and a daily living allowance (or hotshot) of $40-$50 per day is paid to each employee to cover food expenses.

Packers and buckers generally start at $15 an hour, and fallers start at $18 an hour (2016 estimate).

Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers

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 $15.00 $34.62 $22.56 $20.00
Overall $17.00 $40.38 $26.07 $25.00
Top $21.00 $47.12 $30.69 $27.74

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
Oil & Gas Extraction
Transportation and Warehousing
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

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
  • Driver Training
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Physical Education and Recreation
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractor website:

Careers in Oil + Gas website:

Enform website:

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

Updated Mar 24, 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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