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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 $77,839.00
  • Avg. Wage $29.59
  • Minimum Education Apprenticeship
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Driller, Earth Loop Technician

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Water Well Driller is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Water Well Drillers
NOC code: 7373

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


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


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

Updated Aug 19, 2016

In Alberta, the Water Well Driller trade has two branches:

  • Water Well Driller - Earth Loop Technician
  • Water Well Driller - Waters 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.

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)
  • conduct environmental assessment drilling
  • 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 Aug 19, 2016

Water well drillers and earth loop technicians work outdoors and travel to various work sites. The work can be physically demanding and requires the use of personal protective equipment.

They may be required to lift and move equipment that weighs over 20 kilograms. There is some risk of injury involved in working with power equipment.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Aug 19, 2016

Water well drillers and earth loop technicians need the following characteristics:

  • physical 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 Aug 19, 2016

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:

  • have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 10-2 and Math 10-3, or equivalent, or a pass mark in all 5 GED tests, or pass an entrance exam.
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates.  

The term of apprenticeship for water well driller or earth loop technician is two years (two 12 month periods), including a minimum of 1,800 hours of on-the-job training and six 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 credit or certification.

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at Red Deer College.

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.

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 Aug 19, 2016

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Aug 19, 2016

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 Alberta Environment and Park's Water Act and Regulation.

Opportunities to advance to supervisory positions are limited in smaller organizations. Alberta certified journeyperson water well drillers who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

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 in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including: 

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Construction 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.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Aug 19, 2016

Journeyperson wage rates vary but generally range from $25 to $35 an hour plus benefits (2015 estimates). Apprentice water well drillers 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
NOC code: 7373

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 $17.00 $30.00 $24.46 $26.44
Overall $20.00 $36.06 $29.59 $31.00
Top $24.00 $48.08 $33.29 $33.00

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.

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Fabrication
    • Mechanics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Aug 19, 2016

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website:

Alberta Geothermal Energy Association website:

Alberta Water Well Drilling Association website:

BuildForce Canada website:

Canadian GeoExchange Coalition (CGC) website:

Geothermal Exchange Organization website:

International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) website:

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 17, 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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