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Occupational Profile
Apprenticeship

Slickline Operator

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

  • Avg. Salary $75,352.00
  • Avg. Wage $35.76
  • Minimum Education Designated Occupation
  • Outlook Down
  • Employed 22,000
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Field Operator (Well Logging and Testing), Wireline Operator

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

75%
75%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Slickline Operator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Oil and Gas Well Loggers, Testers and Related Workers
NOC code: 8232.2
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

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

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
  • 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 occupation has four branches:

  • Assistant operators provide support and assist with operations.
  • Level one operators perform job planning, implementation and evaluation of pressure control equipment, as well as the running of slickline tools. Level one operators may also service equipment.
  • In addition to the tasks above level two 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 three operators may perform the duties of level two operators as well as perform complex operations 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 Dec 16, 2016

Slickline operators primarily work outdoors and may work at heights up to 5 meters. They are sometimes exposed to extremes in weather as well as to the dirt, dust, noise and fumes common around wells. Some work may take place in heated and air conditioned operators compartments.

Hours of work vary from one company to another but may include 12 hour rotating shifts with two weeks on and one week off.  Occasionally operators will need to work overnight or be on call for a 24-hour period. 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. Slickline operators must follow standard safety practices and participate in safety meetings and emergency procedure drills.

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

Slickline operators need to have the following characteristics:

  • physical strength, stamina and agility
  • emotional stamina
  • an interest in working outdoors and in remote areas
  • the ability to work quickly, think ahead to the next procedure and respond appropriately in emergency situations 
  • the ability to visualize how an underground tool is functioning 
  • the ability to get along well with co-workers
  • basic math skills
  • mechanical aptitude.

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

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

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.

There are no formal requirements for becomming 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.

It is possible to gain technical knowledge and advance more quickly by taking courses in different aspects of drilling or service operations. Enform in Calgary and Nisku (near Edmonton) offers courses for those employed on drilling and service rigs.

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

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

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. Opportunities for advancement depend on the company and the worker's ability and potential to assume responsibility and supervise operations. Interested individuals who possess an Alberta Occupational Certificate may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

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 in this occupation will be 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 (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 slickline operators form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for slickline operators.

In 2014, the 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

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) October 2014 recommended wage for slickline operators is $34.90 an hour plus a living subsistence allowance (from $50 to $60 a day depending on location).

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

Wage and salary information is available for this occupation's larger National Occupational Classification 8232: Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related Workers. See the Alberta Wage and Salary Survey data below.

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

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 $12.00 $46.20 $30.87 $30.84
Overall $15.99 $46.20 $35.76 $38.18
Top $21.63 $50.00 $42.40 $46.18

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
Oil & Gas Extraction
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Construction

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

75%
75%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

38%
38%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

6%
6%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Natural Resources
    • Primary Resources
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 Dec 16, 2016

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

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

Enform website: www.enform.ca

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

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

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 24, 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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