Skip to the main content
This website uses cookies to give you a better online experience. By using this website or closing this message, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. More information
Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Toll Free 1-877-644-9992


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted legislation and services. Information on this website may not reflect the current situation in Alberta. Please visit for up-to-date information about these impacts.


Slickline Operator

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

  • Avg. Salary $79,584.00
  • Avg. Wage $39.89
  • Minimum Education Designated Occupation
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 26,500
  • In Demand Medium
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) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

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

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


Interest in driving well service and wireline trucks to well sites


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

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

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.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
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 11 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Sep 22, 2021 and Oct 18, 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: Accurate
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Dependability
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Personal Suitability: Judgement
Area of Specialization: Oil and gas well drilling and well servicing
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Ensure safety procedures are followed
Area of Specialization: Oil and gas well logging and testing
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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.


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

Working in Alberta

Slickline operators with legislated certification in good standing elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for certification in Alberta. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? and 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 (

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.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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

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
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.

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.

Industry Information
Oil & Gas Extraction

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
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website:

Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) website:

Energy Safety Canada website:

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

Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) website:

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.

Was this page useful?