Build a Career in Oil & Gas

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Common careers include:

Operators are the largest job family within the upstream petroleum industry. Operator jobs typically involve the specialized operation of control systems and equipment related to plant and facilities, heavy equipment, rigs, wells and pipelines.

Other common work functions for this job family usually include assembly and disassembly of equipment, operating, monitoring, assessing readings, troubleshooting and reacting to variable conditions.

If you have the following skills, interests and abilities, a career as an operator might be for you:

  • A willingness to work in remote locations, and/or to be relocated.
  • Comfortable with shift work.
  • Like practical, hands-on problem solving.
  • Like to work with physical materials such as tools and machinery.
  • Able to follow set procedures, routines and standards.
  • Able to work with data and detail.
  • Prefer doing a variety of tasks, working alone or being busy all the time.


To work in this area, individuals usually require a high school diploma, combined with on-the-job training and selected technical course work. A post-secondary education in engineering technology (e.g., power, chemical, petroleum or mechanical) can help a person advance in their career. A strong mechanical aptitude, combined with an interest in working with things that are tangible versus theoretical, is crucial for many operator roles.

Career paths

Some companies offer opportunities for summer help, or helpers and labourers to advance into operator positions based on their job experience, demonstrated performance, interest and potential. Advancement opportunities are possible within a particular career by being moved or promoted through several steps, each with progressively more responsibility and increased pay. With experience and extensive formal on-the-job company training, individuals may move laterally within their company or vertically to a supervisory or managerial position.

At work

Control centre operators are primarily office-based occupations. Most other positions in this career option require shift or rotational work (two weeks on and one week off-site) and are usually outdoors at production sites, in sometimes remote locations. Opportunities for paid overtime can be very rewarding.

Safety-sensitive positions have stringent requirements related to being drug and alcohol free.

Quick tips & additional resources

  • Review oil and gas company websites to learn how oil and gas is produced. Start with the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.
  • Contact companies of interest and request a tour of their production process facilities.
  • Check out the Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors website for brochures, videos and photos describing this work. The site also includes member companies that you can research as potential employers.
  • Look for summer jobs with seismic companies and get some experience as a surveyor's or driller's helper.
  • Sign up to participate in Seismic in Motion, an annual event held in October, that involves a field trip with experts in the industry.
  • Check out the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors. It provides a list of drilling and well services contractors and other useful websites.