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Wireline Operator

Wireline operators raise and lower special downhole instruments and tools. They collect and process data from wireline operations.

  • Avg. Salary $75,145.00
  • Avg. Wage $36.52
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 4,500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

E-line Operations Supervisor

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 Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related Workers (8232) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related Workers (I132) 
  • 2011 NOC: Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators (8412) 
  • 2016 NOC: Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators (8412) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

45%
45%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Wireline operations take their name from the slender, flexible, metal cable used to lower special instruments into oil and gas wells. Different types of work require different types of wireline. For example, electric lines (or e-lines) have a braided outer line with a wire running through the middle. Protected from the often-harsh environment of a well, the wire conducts electricity from a mobile generator to power instruments attached to the end of the line. E-lines are used for operations such as production logging, perforating, and pipe recovery.

In general, wireline crews lower, operate, and raise instruments, tools, and equipment. This includes:

  • Sophisticated electrical logging equipment (e-line)
  • Perforating guns, which, when detonated, perforate well casing and permit oil and gas to flow into the well (generally e-line)
  • Downhole plugs
  • Fishing tools used to retrieve broken or lost wire or equipment.

They also:

  • Drive wireline trucks to and from drilling sites
  • Assemble and attach special instruments or tools required for each job
  • Operate a truck winch to lower and raise the instruments or tools
  • Consult supervisors and managers and coordinate their work with them

Wireline operators often work inside a mobile unit that houses complex computer equipment. From this unit, they lower, raise, and position instruments or tools. Data received during wireline operations is sent to e-line supervisors to interpret and process for permanent records. Precise and accurate direction of wireline operations is extremely important and involves a great deal of skill.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Wireline operators work outdoors and in mobile units in the field. Their work hours, job location, and travel requirements vary with the company and type of job. Long hours and extensive travel are common. In Alberta, some oil and gas wells are located near major centres or small communities. However, a growing number are in remote areas.

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

Wireline operators need:

  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Strength, stamina, and agility
  • An interest in working outdoors and in remote areas
  • The ability to visualize how an underground tool is functioning
  • The ability to work quickly, think ahead to the next procedure, and respond appropriately in emergency situations
  • The ability to get along with co-workers

They should enjoy solving problems and working with tools, instruments, equipment, and machinery.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Wireline operators must:

  • Have an Alberta Class 3 driver’s licence and air brake certification
  • Be licensed by the provincial government to handle the types of explosives used in perforating activities (for more information, see the Blaster occupational profile)
  • Be certified in the transportation of dangerous goods (TDG)
  • Be trained in first aid

Employers most often provide in-house training for new employees, and ongoing courses for experienced workers. They may require employees to obtain certificates such as:

  • Petroleum Safety Training (PST)
  • Well Service Blowout Prevention
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Hydrogen Sulfide Awareness (H2S)

Wireline operators with a high school diploma and wellhead boom truck apprenticeship are more likely to be hired. For information about wellhead boom truck apprenticeship, see the Crane and Hoisting Equipment Operator occupational profile.

It is possible to gain technical knowledge and advance more quickly by taking courses in different aspects of drilling or service operations. Energy Safety Canada (in Calgary and in Nisku, near Edmonton) provides training for drilling and service rig crews. They also offer pre-employment courses for those wanting more experience before working in the oil and gas industry. Although they are the industry’s safety association, other organizations also offer this training.

E-line operators need a working knowledge of electrical circuits and load calculations. Before they are qualified to run their own truck, new employees generally work with experienced e-line wireline operators and field engineers. They also take courses in physics, interpretation, software, safety, and general operating procedures. Trainees typically need 6 to 9 months before being ready to work without direct supervision.

Wireline field supervisors generally have a related 2-year diploma and 2 or 3 years of experience as wireline operators.

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

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Wireline operators work for:

  • Companies that specialize in wireline activities
  • Oil field service companies that provide wireline services as part of their operation

Wireline operators may develop special expertise in areas such as electrical logging or perforating. Or they may move into field stations and work as mechanics. With further training, experienced wireline operators may advance to positions such as wireline field supervisor or station manager. Eventually they may move into senior management or do consulting work for wireline service companies.

Wireline 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:

  • 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the I132: Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related Workers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.7% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 154 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020
Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators

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 $15.00 $50.51 $31.82 $30.01
Overall $20.95 $55.00 $36.52 $36.00
Top $26.00 $75.96 $43.02 $41.50

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
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Oil & Gas Extraction
Construction

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

45%
45%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

46%
46%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

11%
11%

Vacancy Rate

2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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

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

Energy Safety Canada website: www.energysafetycanada.com

Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (EPAC) website: www.explorersandproducers.ca

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

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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