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Occupational Profile

Well Service Equipment Operator

Well service equipment crews are called in at different times during the development of oil and gas wells for specialized oil field service operations such as cementing, acidizing, fracturing or nitrogen injection.

  • Avg. Salary $74,814.00
  • Avg. Wage $36.02
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook Down
  • Employed 6,300
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Equipment Operator, Gas Well Service Equipment Operator, Oil Well Service Equipment Operator

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

77%
77%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Well Service Equipment Operator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Oil and Gas Well Services Operators
NOC code: 8412.2
OBJECTIVE

METHODICAL

Interest in monitoring pressure, density, rate and concentration during pumping operations

innovative

Interest in copying information to read gauges to interpret conditions and adjust pumping procedures; may mix chemicals and cement

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

Well service equipment operators provide a variety of specialized services. Their responsibilities and job titles vary from 1 employer to another and from 1 type of service to another, but in general, they:

  • prepare trucks, equipment, materials and supplies
  • deliver equipment and materials to well sites
  • meet with rig personnel to discuss and plan specialized operations
  • use hand tools to assemble and connect equipment
  • direct and assist helpers, floorhands and derrickhands in the use of hoisting equipment where necessary
  • monitor control panels and operate equipment controls
  • keep records and prepare reports about service operations
  • train and supervise helpers
  • service and maintain equipment.

Pumping services involve the use of high-pressure pumping equipment and chemicals, fluids or gases. Different materials are required for different operations, and pump equipment operators usually specialize in a particular type of service:

  • Cementing services are needed when an oil or gas well is being cased or for remedial work. During the cementing operation, a special mixture of cement, water and additives is pumped through the casing or tubing to seal the casing and secure it in place.
  • Acidizing or fracturing services may be needed to increase the flow of oil or gas from a well. In acidizing, a strong acid such as hydrochloric acid is pumped into the well to open flow channels in the rock. In fracturing, a treating fluid containing granular material (called sand) is pumped under pressure into the well to fracture the underground rock formation, create channels in the rock formation and improve production.
  • Nitrogen injection services involve pumping nitrogen gas in combination with acidizing or fracturing fluids into wells to increase the flow of oil or gas, displace fluid from the well bore or pressure test well heads and tubing.

Depending on the job, pump equipment operators may have additional responsibilities such as mixing materials.

Coil tubing operators insert the continuous coiled tubing used to pump fluids (for example, water, oil, acid and nitrogen gas) down a well to stimulate formation, clean out the wellbore or condition the well for other services. Coiled tubing also can supply mechanical force to operate down-hole tools and equipment.

Completion or service tool operators install completion equipment used to control reservoir pressures and production flow.

Fishing tool operators, sometimes called down-hole tool operators, use tools designed to retrieve objects that must be removed from the wellbore before work can proceed. They meet with drilling personnel to determine the best method and tool to use, and direct tool assembly and operation.

Power tong and casing operators operate hydraulic power tongs used to connect casing as it is lowered into a well. They manage hydraulic controls that provide power and operate the power tongs, and monitor pressure gauges to make sure the correct amount of pressure is applied so casing joints are connected properly. Combined with cementing, casing stabilizes recently drilled well holes.

Swabbing unit operators use specialized equipment to pull fluid from the well bore so oil or gas can flow on its own pressure.

For information about snubbing services, see the Snubbing Services Operators and Supervisors occupational profile.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Well service equipment crews often work out of central field stations. Field stations are located throughout the province, often in towns or cities near major drilling or production locations.

Specialized services may be required at any time of the day or night, so well service equipment operators usually work on a 24-hour on-call basis. They must do a lot of travelling, frequently work long hours and may be required to lift items weighing up to 20 kilograms.

Much of the work is performed outdoors exposed to all types of weather conditions and the dirt, dust, noise and fumes common around rigs. Because the work potentially is hazardous, safety is a primary concern for everyone on a rig. Hazards include:

  • working on wet, slippery rig floors
  • working near or with heavy tools and moving machinery
  • exposure to chemical substances such as drilling mixture additives.
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Well service equipment operators need the following characteristics:

  • good communication skills (to understand and give clear, concise directions)
  • initiative
  • good analytical and decision making skills
  • physical strength and stamina
  • mechanical aptitude and the ability to visualize how tools are operating underground
  • the ability to work efficiently and effectively under pressure
  • the ability to pay close attention to detail
  • the ability to work well alone and with other people.

They should enjoy operating machinery and complex equipment, having clear rules and guidelines for their work and solving problems.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Well service equipment operators should havea high school diploma combined with the ability and desire to learn quickly and put into practice what they have learned. Related education or experience on a drilling or service rig is a definite asset. For more information, see the Drilling Rig Leasehand and Floorhand, Service Rig Personnel and Rig Technician occupational profiles.

Pump equipment operators often learn through special company training programs and on-the-job experience. They transport and use materials and gases that may be highly corrosive or poisonous (hazardous if incorrectly handled), so they usually are required to have an Alberta Class 1 operator's licence with air or heavy truck endorsement and no more than 6 demerits.

They should also have the following certificates:

  • Petroleum Safety Training (PST)
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Cryogenic Safety
  • Hydrogen Sulfide Awareness (H2S)
  • Blowout Prevention
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG)
  • First Aid.

Some employers require acidizing operators to have related post-secondary education such as a 2-year diploma or 4-year degree in petroleum engineering.

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

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.

Well service equipment operators are employed by contractors in the oil and gas industry. They may start as helpers and, after on-the-job experience and in-house courses, move into operator positions.

Pump equipment operators usually specialize in 1 type of operation and may advance to the position of field supervisor. Those who have leadership skills and are knowledgeable about all types of pumping operations may advance to the position of station manager.

Well service equipment operators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 8412: Oil and gas well drilling workers and services operators. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction industry.

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

  • time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • 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 6,200 Albertans are employed in the Oil and gas well drilling workers and services operators occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.6% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 37 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As well service equipment operators form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for well service equipment operators.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators
NOC code: 8412

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 $21.00 $46.20 $31.95 $31.95
Overall $24.00 $57.69 $36.02 $33.80
Top $27.00 $74.52 $39.38 $36.00

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
Oil & Gas Extraction
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

77%
77%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

33%
33%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

7%
7%

2015 Vacancy Rate

1%
Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Natural Resources
    • Primary Resources
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Fabrication
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

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

Careers in Oil + Gas website: www.careersinoilandgas.com

Enform website: www.enform.ca

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 25, 2016. 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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