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Natural Gas Compression Technician

Duties

Natural gas compression technicians install, commission, maintain, and repair natural gas compression equipment used to gather, store and transmit natural gas.

On a typical job, natural gas compression technicians:

  • read and interpret diagrams and schematic drawings and related technical information to determine work procedures;
  • perform the assembly, installation, inspection, maintenance, repair and overhaul of natural gas compression equipment;
  • complete ignition analysis, fuel, air, exhaust and engine management systems testing, fault diagnoses and repair;
  • complete reciprocating and rotating machinery analysis to determine equipment condition, prediction to failure, corrective and preventative measures, and equipment performance to design intent;
  • perform visual walk-around inspections to determine the external conditions and obvious operational or safety issues;
  • use a variety of electrical, mechanical and specialty diagnostic test equipment to diagnose problems and adjust engine systems;
  • provide preventative and corrective field mechanical services on gas compression, processing and production equipment on-site at client locations;
  • troubleshoot and diagnose mechanical and general electronic control problems and all levels of compressor system failure;
  • repair and rebuild natural gas equipment;
  • inspect malfunctioning or damaged equipment to determine the nature and scope of the problem using applied failure analysis principles;
  • perform reliability analysis and risk assessments and apply to compression systems;
  • identify and develop maintenance strategies based on Reliability-centered Maintenance, Condition-based Maintenance, and Preventive Maintenance concepts; and
  • adhere to regulations and standards related to natural gas compression systems to ensure the safety of all workers, the environment and equipment.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.

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Working Conditions

Working conditions for natural gas compression technicians vary from one job site to another.  Some job sites are indoors in compressor stations while other sites are outside, exposed to a variety of weather conditions.  The work environment may be in hazardous locations.  There is a strong emphasis on safety while working with heavy equipment and machinery.  Travel arrangements and hours of work may also vary.

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Skills and Abilities

This trade is most rewarding for those who enjoy variety, security and doing precision work with diverse natural gas compression and processing equipment.

To be successful in this trade, natural gas compression technicians must have:

  • good vision, hearing and a sense of smell to perform diagnostic evaluations,
  • the strength and stamina required to work with heavy equipment,
  • good coordination and manual dexterity and the ability to work in cramped or awkward positions,
  • the mechanical ability and interest in all types of natural gas; engines, compressors, pumps and other related equipment,
  • the ability to optimize and trouble-shoot natural gas compression systems, and
  • the ability to work independently and in a team, focusing on the needs of the client.

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Employment and Advancement

Journeyperson natural gas compression technicians find employment with natural gas producers, manufacturers of compressor packages, power system providers and natural gas engine and compressor service providers.  Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $30 to $45 an hour, plus benefits. 

Natural gas compression technicians can be good candidates for promotion to supervisory and superintendent positions.  Their skills and competencies are transferable to related trades and occupations.

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Working in Alberta

To work as a natural gas compression technician in Alberta, a person must:

  • be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, hold a valid recognized credential , OR
  • work for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of a certified journeyperson, OR
  • be self-employed

Individuals possessing a valid Alberta Journeyman Certificate, an Alberta Occupational Certificate, a document indicating that the individual holds a certificate that is recognized as equivalent to an Alberta trade or occupational certificate, or a certificate that is recognized as equivalent to an Alberta trade or occupational certificate are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.

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Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a natural gas compression technician is 4 years (four 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1500 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year.

  • An applicant, who previously completed hours of work experience related to the natural gas compression technician trade and has the employer’s recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship.  Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprenticeship representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
  • A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application.  For more information, see the online Prior Learning Assessment Guide.
  • A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

To learn the skills required of a natural gas compression technician in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

Courses in applied mathematics and physics are particularly important.

  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.

For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.

    • complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
    • pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process 
    • complete the required on-the-job training
      - during on-the-job training, apprentice millwrights earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 70 percent in the second, 80 percent in the third, and 90 percent in the fourth year.
    • complete all program requirements as identified in the course outline
    • enroll in technical training(Note: technical training will start in September 2012)
      - select an educational institution that offers training for natural gas compression technician apprentices, and a time to attend training
      - determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrolment form to the selected institution
    • review books and materials required for training
    • successfully complete all required exams

When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.

Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.

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Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

The natural gas compression technician trade does not participate in the Red Seal Program.

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Qualification Certificate Program

For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.

Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.

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Equivalency Program

The natural gas compression technician trade does not participate in the Equivalency Program.

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