Build a Career in Oil & Gas

Bookmark and Share

Trades (Apprenticeable)

Common careers include:

Tradespeople play a big role in the upstream petroleum industry and are typically involved in the actual execution of the industry's day-to-day functions or work in maintenance roles where they are involved in all the work necessary to keep facilities and equipment in good repair and reliable working order.

Tradespeople are actively involved in the design and fabrication of materials and equipment used in the industry. Operating companies and engineering consulting companies hire tradespeople for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) projects that build the sophisticated facilities used in onshore, offshore, mining and heavy oil (in-situ) operations.

A compulsory trade is one in which an individual must be a certified journeyperson or registered apprentice to do the work of that trade. The trades listed below are apprenticeable in one or more provinces. The Interprovincial Standard (Red Seal) Program, which is required by some of the trades, mandates that the holder must achieve 70 per cent or higher on the interprovincial/territorial exam for their trade, allowing them to work in any province/territory in Canada.

A career as a tradesperson might be for you if you have the following skills, interests and abilities:

  • Have a natural knack for working with tools, computers, instruments and machinery at tasks requiring precision.
  • Are curious about how things fit together and operate.
  • Like working with your hands.
  • Like to be physically active and constantly on the move.
  • Display great attention to detail.
  • Enjoy problem solving - taking a methodical approach to analyzing problems and finding innovative solutions.
  • Have an aptitude for visualizing an end-product.


Academic requirements vary by trade and province and territory; however, a high school diploma is recommended for the trades involved in the upstream petroleum industry. Individuals considering a trade must carefully select the one they are interested in, find an employer to sponsor an apprenticeship and register with the provincial and territorial apprenticeship office. You can then start earning a salary while you learn the trade.

Many provincial and territorial governments have introduced special programs for secondary school students who are interested in apprenticeship. These programs offer early training in the trades and opportunities to try working on-the-job. Students have a chance to earn credits towards their apprenticeship in these pre-apprenticeship programs.

The Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program is administered in each province and territory under the guidance of the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA). Red Seal certification is recognized in all provinces.

Career paths

Skilled tradespeople have meaningful, lucrative and long-term careers, not just jobs. The level of advancement is up to the capability and interests of the individual.

The first step is becoming an apprentice and then becoming a certified journeyperson. From there, a person can become a master journeyperson, a business owner and entrepreneur, a contractor or a supervisor and manager in a company. Individuals can also choose to represent trades in a business, pursue trade instructor roles, or become designers and inventors.

At work

These labour-intensive jobs can be physically demanding. Opportunities for travel and overtime can make these positions very attractive. The physical "hands-on" aspect of trades may draw many people to these careers. However, it is important to note that careers also include designing concepts and blueprints, project management and performing administrative functions.

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

Quick tips & additional resources

  • Explore Careers in Trades for tips and resources.
  • Review the International Standards Red Seal Program information and follow links to provincial and territorial apprenticeship branch offices.
  • Attend career fairs hosted by employers who offer jobs and careers in this occupation and review their websites.
  • Contact individuals already in the trades - among other things, they can describe what the work entails, what skills are important to have, who typically hires for these roles and what next steps could be taken to find out more.
  • Review the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum-Forum canadien sur l'apprentissage (CAF-FCA) for information on careers in trades and apprenticeship training.