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Apprenticeship

Slickline Operator

Slickline operators raise and lower downhole tools used in the maintenance of oil and gas wells.

Also Known As

Field Operator (Well Logging and Testing), Wireline 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: Oil and Gas Well Loggers, Testers and Related Workers (8232.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related Workers (I132) 
  • 2011 NOC: Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers (8232) 
  • 2016 NOC: Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers (8232) 
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.

Oil and Gas Well Loggers, Testers and Related Workers
2006 NOC : 8232.2

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

OBJECTIVE

Interest in controlling the operation of wirelines, unit controls, and equipment and instruments in mobile testing and logging units

METHODICAL

Interest in driving well service and wireline trucks to well sites

innovative

Interest in compiling information to direct the operations of wireline and unit controls to conduct required procedures and tests; may perform limited data interpretation

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

Abilities

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

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Slickline operators draw their name from the slender, flexible, metal cable used to lower special instruments into oil and gas wells. The length and grade of slickline used depends on the job (for example, the weight of the tools it is raising or lowering) and the depth of the well hole. Slicklines are used for temperature and pressure surveys, downhole completion operations, well optimization and production enhancement. They are connected at one end on the surface to spooled drums on slickline trucks and at the other end to slickline sheaves that direct the slickline down the wellbore.

From the surface, slickline operators:

  • Remove sand and paraffin from the wellbore
  • Use weight indicator gauges and depth counters to monitor the tension and depth of the slickline
  • Run instruments to record bottom hole pressure and temperature
  • Install and retrieve valves, plugs and pressure regulators
  • Lower and raise downhole tools and plugs to proper depth
  • Direct fishing tools used to retrieve broken or lost wire or equipment
  • Mechanically manipulate downhole tools from operator compartments in slickline trucks
  • Operate hydraulic pumps to spool slickline back onto reel drums

In Alberta, this is a designated occupation with the following levels:

  • Assistant operators provide support and assist with pre- and post-job operations.
  • Level 1 operators perform job planning, implementation and evaluation of pressure control equipment, as well as the running of slickline tools. They may also service equipment and ensure conformance to industry practices.
  • Level 2 operators, in addition to the tasks above, these operators may perform fishing, bailing and perforating. This role involves implementing health and safety policies and environmental policies, supporting relationship with customers and supervising crew training.
  • Level 3 operators may perform the duties of level 2 operators as well as perform complex operations in sour critical and high-pressure wells and supervise other operators.

Precision and accuracy in the direction of slickline operations is extremely important and involves a great deal of skill.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg

Slickline operators primarily work outdoors and may find themselves on tasks up to 5 metres from the ground. They are sometimes exposed to extremes in weather as well as to the dirt, dust, noise and fumes common around wells. Other times they may be working in heated and air-conditioned operators compartments.

Hours of work vary from one company to another but may include 12-hour rotating shifts with 2 weeks on and 1 week off. Occasionally operators will need to work overnight or be on 24-hour call. When wells are in remote locations, slickline operators may stay in camps or hotels.

The work is physically demanding and may involve lifting items that weigh up to 25 kilograms. Workplace hazards include working on high-pressure sour gas wells, working near or with heavy tools and moving machinery, and exposure to chemical substances such as paint, motor oil and drilling mixture substances and explosives.

Safety is very important in slickline operations, so operators must follow safety practices and participate in safety meetings and emergency procedure drills.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Slickline operators need:

  • Strength, stamina and agility
  • Emotional stamina
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Basic math skills
  • The ability to work quickly and think ahead to the next procedure
  • The ability to respond appropriately in emergency situations
  • The ability to visualize how an underground tool is functioning
  • Interest in working outdoors and in remote areas

They should enjoy having clear rules and guidelines for their work, working with equipment and machinery, and working in a team environment.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers
NOC code: 8232

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 20 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 04, 2021 and May 17, 2022.

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: Accurate
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Dependability
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Area of Specialization: Oil and gas well drilling and well servicing
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Judgement
Ensure safety procedures are followed
Personal Suitability: Excellent written communication
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Minimum Education Designated Occupation

There are no formal requirements for becoming a slickline operator. Employers generally provide in-house training programs for new employees and ongoing courses for experienced employees. Some employers may require employees to obtain certificates such as:

  • Petroleum Safety Training (PST)
  • WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)
  • Hydrogen Sulfide Awareness (H2S)
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG)
  • First aid
  • Fall prevention safety
  • Confined space entry
  • Class 3 driver’s licence with airbrake certification and clean driver’s abstract

Slickline operator is a designated occupation in Alberta. This means that training and certification are not required but trainees can apply to Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training for an Alberta Occupational Certificate. Certification requires completion of a petroleum competency program managed by Energy Safety Canada. Applicants for slickline operator certification may apply at any level without holding a certificate at a lower level. However, the assessment at each level includes assessment of all the lower levels.

It is possible to gain technical knowledge and advance more quickly by taking courses in different aspects of drilling or service operations. For a list of available training, see Energy Safety Canada or other similar organizations.


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

Designated Occupations

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, 2020
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Slickline Operator

Slickline operators raise and lower downhole tools used in the maintenance of oil and gas wells. For more information, see the Trades and Occupations section of Alberta’s Tradesecrets website.

Legislation

In Alberta, optional government-legislated certification is available for slickline operators.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Slickline Operator.

Additional Information

Certified tradespeople who want to build their business skills may obtain an Achievement in Business Competencies (Blue Seal) Certificate from Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Slickline operators are employed by:

  • Companies that specialize in slickline activities
  • Oil field service companies that provide slickline services as part of their operation

New employees usually begin as helpers or junior operators and often are hired initially as seasonal workers for the winter months. With experience, they have the opportunity to take on higher levels of responsibility. Advancement depends on the company and the worker’s ability and potential to assume responsibility and supervise operations.

Some employers perform routine drug testing of their employees.

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

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 8232: Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.3% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 332 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
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: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Slickline operators can earn $60,000 to $180,000 annually, depending on experience (2009 estimates).

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.

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

2016 NOC : 8232
Average Wage
$39.89
Per Hour
Average Salary
$79,584.00
Per Year
Average Hours
43.9
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.2
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 8232 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.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


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 $18.00 $42.00 $31.09 $28.37
Overall $20.17 $56.00 $39.89 $42.00
Top $21.92 $92.86 $55.41 $51.28

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
Oil & Gas Extraction
ALL INDUSTRIES
Construction
Manufacturing

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

63%
63%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

32%
32%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

10%
10%

Vacancy Rate

6%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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

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

Energy Safety Canada website: www.energysafetycanada.com

Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) website: www.psac.ca

PetroLMI, Career in Oil and Gas (COG) website: careersinoilandgas.com

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

Updated Mar 31, 2020. 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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