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Updated / Apprenticeship

Water Well Driller

Water well drillers set up and operate rigs to drill residential, commercial and industrial water wells. Drillers in the earth loop technician branch set up and operate mobile drilling rigs and trenching equipment to construct residential and commercial earth loops for heating and cooling.

  • Avg. Salary $64,482.00
  • Avg. Wage $30.86
  • Minimum Education Apprenticeship
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Driller, Earth Loop Technician

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: Water Well Drillers (7373) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Water Well Drillers (H623) 
  • 2011 NOC: Water well drillers (7373) 
  • 2016 NOC: Water well drillers (7373) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

27%
27%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Water Well Driller is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Water Well Drillers
OBJECTIVE

Interest in controlling water well drilling rigs and other equipment to drill, bore and dig for residential, commercial and industrial water wells or environmental assessment; and to install well screens, casings and other well fixtures

METHODICAL

Interest in comparing information to perform routine maintenance work on water well drilling rigs and equipment; and in cleaning and disinfecting wells in preparation for use

innovative

Interest in speaking to review client needs and proposed locations for water wells

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 Mar 31, 2020

In Alberta, the water well driller trade has the following branches:

  • Water well driller - earth loop technician
  • Water well driller - water well driller

For simplicity, the two branches are referred to as water well driller and earth loop technician in this profile.

To find water that is clean and safe for drinking, water well drillers must know the geological formations of the area in which they are working. They may assist customers in locating a well and estimating the cost. They also do environmental assessment drilling.

In general, water well drillers:

  • Set up mobile rotary, boring or cable water well drilling rigs
  • Operate rigs to bore holes for wells and line holes with well casings (steel or plastic pipes)
  • Drill test holes and drill holes for pilings
  • Record information about the geological formations encountered
  • Put screens and pumps in place to develop the well
  • Design and install a pumping system
  • Clean and disinfect the well in preparation for use
  • Maintain and upgrade their equipment
  • Disinfect, re-construct and re-develop older contaminated wells and water pumping systems

Earth loop systems use the relatively constant temperature in the earth to provide heating and cooling for residential homes and commercial buildings. The earth’s energy is transported into the building using a fluid that runs through a series of closed loops that can be installed vertically or horizontally into the ground. These are called earth loops. Earth loop technicians bore into the earth and install earth loops.

In general, earth loop technicians:

  • Set up drilling rigs
  • Operate drilling rigs to bore holes and line the holes with well casings (steel or plastic pipes)
  • Operate equipment such as excavators, backhoes and trench compactors to dig trenches for system piping
  • Lay piping in trenches and backfill piping trenches to protect pipes from damage
  • Record information about the geological formations encountered
  • Calculate the size of pipes required
  • Use pipe fusion techniques to assemble loop pipes
  • Use grout mixers or pumps, geothermal loop reels, coil tubing units and other equipment to install earth loops
  • Conduct quality tests of installed earth loop
  • Help homeowners and engineers in the design of earth loops
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Water well drillers and earth loop technicians work outdoors and find themselves travelling to wherever their work takes them. The job can be physically demanding, and typically requires lifting and moving heavy equipment. There is some risk of injury involved in working with power equipment, and drillers must wear personal protective equipment.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Water well drillers and earth loop technicians need:

  • Strength and stamina
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Manual dexterity
  • The ability to judge distances and spatial relationships
  • The ability to work independently or with others

They should enjoy scheduling their own hours and working independently.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

To work in Alberta, a water well driller or earth loop technician must be ONE of the following:

  • A registered apprentice
  • An Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • Someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate
  • Someone who works for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of certified journeyperson
  • Self-employed

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train them. They must also meet ONE of the following:

  • Have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 10-2, Math 10-3, or equivalent
  • Have a pass mark in all 5 Canadian General Educational Development (GED) tests
  • Pass an entrance exam

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates.

The term of apprenticeship for water well driller or earth loop technician is 2 years (two 12-month periods), including a minimum of 1,800 hours of on-the-job training and 6 weeks of technical training each year.

High school students can earn credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP). Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for admission, credit, or certification. Credits may reduce the period of apprenticeship.

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training. For more information, see the Apprenticeship Training Catalogue.


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

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

Water Well Driller

In Alberta, the water well driller trade has the following branches:

  1. Water well driller - earth loop technician
  1. Water well driller - water well driller

Water well drillers set up and operate rigs to drill residential, commercial and industrial water wells. Drillers in the earth loop technician branch set up and operate mobile drilling rigs and trenching equipment to construct residential and commercial earth loops for heating and cooling. For more information, see the Trades and Occupations section of Alberta’s Tradesecrets website.

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act [pdf] and Water Well Driller Trade Regulation [pdf], you do not have to be certified if you are self-employed or work for an employer who is satisfied that you have the skills and knowledge expected of a journeyperson certified by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training. To learn the trade, you must become a registered apprentice.

What You Need

The term of apprenticeship for each branch of this trade is 2 years (two 12-month periods) that include a minimum of 1,800 hours of on-the-job training and 6 weeks of technical training in each year.

Apprentices must find suitable employers who are willing to hire and train apprentices, and successfully complete technical training examinations.

Working in Alberta

Water well drillers and earth loop technicians trained in other provinces and territories can work in Alberta if they hold a certificate or license recognized by the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board or have the skills and knowledge expected of a journeyperson certified in Alberta. 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).

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

Most water well drillers and earth loop technicians are self-employed, employed by water well drilling companies, or work for earth loop construction companies. Many water well drilling operations are family-run businesses. All Alberta water well drilling companies and earth loop installations must comply with the Water Act [pdf] and Water (Ministerial) Regulation [pdf], and drilling and construction standards. For details on water legislation and guidelines, see the Government of Alberta website.

Opportunities to advance to supervisory positions are limited in smaller organizations.

Water well drillers and earth loop technicians are part of a larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 7373: Water Well Drillers. In Alberta, 76% of people employed as water well drillers work in the Construction [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 Construction industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Journeyperson water well drillers wage rates vary but generally range from $25 to $35 an hour plus benefits (2019 estimates). Apprentices earn at least 60% of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year and 85% in the second.

Water well drillers

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 $22.00 $34.00 $27.73 $27.00
Overall $24.00 $35.50 $30.86 $30.00
Top $28.00 $42.00 $36.91 $37.00

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.

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
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

27%
27%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

N/A

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

0%
0%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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

Alberta Water Well Drilling Association website: www.awwda.ca

BuildForce Canada website: www.buildforce.ca

Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA) website: www.cangea.ca

International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) website: igshpa.org

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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