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Wireline Operator

Wireline operators raise and lower special downhole instruments and tools and 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

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Wireline operations draw their name from the slender, flexible, metal cable used to lower special instruments into oil and gas wells. Different types of wirelines are required for different types of work. For example, electric lines, often called 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, such as:

  • 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 the special instruments or tools required for the job
  • operate the winch from the truck to lower and raise the instruments or tools
  • consult and co-ordinate their work with supervisors and managers.

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

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Wireline operators work outdoors and in mobile units in the field. Their hours of work, the location of the job and the amount of travel required vary with the company and type of job contracted. Long hours and extensive travel are not uncommon. In Alberta, some oil and gas wells are located near major centres or small communities. An increasing number are in remote locations.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Wireline operators need the following characteristics:

  • mechanical aptitude
  • physical 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 well with co-workers.

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

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Wireline operators must:

  • have an Alberta Class 3 driver's licence and air brake certification
  • be licensed by the provincial government before they are allowed 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 generally provide in-house training programs for new employees and ongoing courses for experienced employees. 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).

A high school diploma and wellhead boom truck apprenticeship are assets. 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. Enform in Calgary and Nisku (near Edmonton) offers courses for those employed on drilling and service rigs as well as pre-employment courses for those wanting to gain experience prior to working in the oil and gas industry.

E-line operators need a working knowledge of electrical circuits and load calculations. New employees generally take courses in physics, interpretation, software, safety and general operating procedures, and work with experienced e-line wireline operators and field engineers until they are qualified to run their own truck. It generally takes 6 to 9 months before trainees are ready to break out (work without direct supervision).

Wireline field supervisors generally have a related 2-year diploma and at least 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 Dec 16, 2016

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Wireline operators are employed by:

  • 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 additional training, experienced wireline operators may advance to the position of wireline field supervisor, station manager and eventually to senior management, or work as consultants 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 in this occupation will be 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 (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.

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.

In 2014, the Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) Division of Enform (formerly the Petroleum Human Resources Council) indicated that more than 20% of the workforce in the oil and gas industry is eligible for retirement, contributing to the labour demand required to support the industry.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

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
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
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
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) website:

Careers in Oil + Gas website:

Enform website:

Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (EPAC) website:

Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) website:


Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

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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