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Water Well Driller - Earth Loop Technician

Duties

Water well driller - earth loop technicians set up and operate mobile drilling rigs or trenching equipment used to construct residential and commercial loops for heating and cooling. Earth loop technicians may help homeowners and engineers in the design of earth loops.

The duties of an earth loop technician include:

  • operating drilling rigs to bore holes and line them with well casings (steel or plastic pipes) for the construction of earth loops,
  • record information about the geological formations encountered, and
  • design and install a pumping system for heating and cooling purposes.

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

Working Conditions

Water well drillers - earth loop technicians work outdoors and usually travel to various worksites. The work can be physically demanding and requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

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 need:

  • 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 earth loop technicians are self-employed or employed by water well drilling or earth loop construction companies.

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 an water well driller - earth loop 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 recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.

All Alberta water well drilling and earth loop construction companies must comply with the AB Environment Water Act and Regulations

Apprenticeship Training 

The term of apprenticeship for an earth loop technician 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 earth loop technician branch of 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. 
  • 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 apply online for a Prior Learning Assessment and review 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 water well driller - earth loop technician 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.

- during on-the-job training, apprentice earth loop technicians 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
    - select an educational institution that offers training for earth loop 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.

Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

The water well driller-earth loop technician trade does not participate in the 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) 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.

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.