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Water Well Driller


Water well drillers set-up and operate mobile rotary, boring or cable tool drilling rigs used to drill residential, commercial and industrial water wells. In addition, they conduct environmental assessment drilling.

To find potable water that is clean and safe for drinking, water well drillers must be aware of the geological formations of the area where they are working. They may assist customers in selecting a drilling site and estimating the cost.

After setting up the drilling rig, water well drillers:

  • operate the rigs to bore a hole for the well and line the hole with well casings (steel or plastic pipes),
  • record information about the geological formations encountered,
  • put screens and pumps in place to develop the well,
  • design and install a pumping system, and
  • clean and disinfect the well in preparation for use.

Water well drillers disinfect, re-construct and re-develop older contaminated wells and water-pumping systems, in addition to:

  • work for construction companies drilling holes for pilings or drilling test holes,
  • maintain and upgrade their equipment, and
  • work with water purification and water pumping systems.

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


Working Conditions

Water well drillers work outdoors and usually travel to various work sites. The work can be physically demanding and requires the use of personal protective equipment.


Skills and Abilities

The work is most rewarding for those who prefer scheduling their own hours, enjoy working independently and take pride in seeing the results of their work.

To be successful in the trade, water well drillers must have:

  • the strength, stamina and use of proper lifting techniques required to lift heavy equipment weighing in excess of 25 kilograms,
  • mechanical aptitude,
  • manual dexterity,
  • the ability to judge distances and spatial relationships, and
  • the ability to work alone or with others.


Employment and Advancement

Most water well drillers are self-employed or employed by water well drilling companies. Many water well drilling operations are family-run businesses.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $25 to $35 an hour, plus benefits.

Opportunities to advance to supervisory positions are limited in smaller organizations.


Working in Alberta

To work as a water well driller 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 recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.

All Alberta water well drilling companies must comply with the licensing requirements and the drilling and construction standards in the Water Act and Water (Ministerial) Regulation.


Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a water well driller is 2 years (two 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1800 hours of on-the-job training and 6 weeks of technical training each year.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the water well driller trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate 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 apprentice 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.  
  • 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 water well driller in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

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 water well drillers earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, and 85 percent in the second year.
  • complete all program requirements as identified the Course Outline
  • enroll in technical training
  • successfully complete all required (See Exam Counselling Sheets)
  • Technical Training Resource List
    • Each period of technical training requires apprentices to purchase specific resources and supplies.
    • Contact the training provider where you will be attending training for a complete list.

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 call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.


Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

The water well driller trade does not participate in the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program.


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


Equivalency Program

A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.

However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.

Click for more information on the Equivalency Program.