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Rig Technician 1


The Alberta rig technician trades are specific to the drilling rig industry; not the rig servicing industry.

Rig technicians operate oil and gas drilling rigs. The rig technician 1 credential confirms the holder can perform the tasks of a rig technician 1. The job title (i.e. tasks) commonly associated with the first level is motorhand.

Motorhands are responsible for:

  • regularly maintaining drilling rig engines, transmissions, heating systems, diesel electric generators and motors, hydraulic systems, and other mechanical equipment,
  • maintaining equipment logs and preventative maintenance records, as required,
  • monitoring inventories of fuels, oil filters, lube oils, greases and other service items,
  • working under the direction of the Derrickhand and Driller,
  • supervising, training and working with floorhands and laborers, ensuring they work safely and efficiently, and
  • participating in rig mobilization and de-mobilization (rig-up and tear-out).

A drilling rig consists of a derrick, draw-works and other surface equipment that provide the forces needed for a drill pipe to bore a hole into the earth. The drilling rig drills the initial hole for the oil or gas well. After the drilling rig reaches the layer of earth that contains oil or gas, the rig is removed from the site.

Other equipment, such as service rigs and pump jack, operated by skilled workers from the oilfield service industry, are used to complete the well construction and to access the oil and gas.

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


Working Conditions

Working conditions vary with the performed services, rig locations and weather conditions. People in these occupations often work outdoors and in remote locations. They are often exposed to extremes in weather as well as dirt, dust, noise and fumes that often exist around a rig. They may be required to lift items weighing in excess of 25 kilograms. Employees are often responsible for their own transportation to the work site and may travel widely throughout the province. Employment in these occupations may be seasonal. Winter is the busiest season for drilling activity.

The rig technician trade has minimal entry-level requirements, generous wages, attractive work and time-off schedules and opportunities for rapid advancement. It can be a stepping stone to a variety of other employment opportunities in the oil and gas industry.


Skills and Abilities

To be successful in their trade, rig technicians must have:

  • the ability to get along well with co-workers,
  • leadership and management skills,
  • good communication skills,
  • good organizational skills,
  • physical strength and stamina,
  • emotional stability,
  • mechanical aptitude,
  • manual dexterity, and
  • the ability to judge distances and spatial relationships.

They should enjoy working with equipment and machinery, working in a team environment and compiling information and maintaining records.


Employment and Advancement

Rig technicians are employed by drilling contractors who own and operate oil and gas well drilling rigs and who contract with oil producers to drill wells. Work schedules for rig technicians vary with industry demand, but an example of a Rig Technician's work schedule is two weeks of work followed by one week off from work.

Rig technicians may be promoted to rig managers, or to management positions within the drilling industry. Experienced rig technicians may also be hired by specialist companies for occupations such as mud technician, directional driller or for service occupations. For example, they may go on to drilling-related equipment sales, employment as rig training providers, occupations in rig regulation or rig supervision, oil and gas well supervision or rig safety, or various other career paths.


Working in Alberta

To work as a rig technician 1 in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice in the rig technician 3 program, be an Alberta-certified journeyperson, have a Qualification Certificate or an Equivalency credential, or hold a valid recognized credential.

Rig technicians 3 learn their skills by registering with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training to participate in apprenticeship training in the rig technician 3 program. Upon successful completion, they are awarded the Alberta Journeyman Certificate for rig technician 3. Rig technician 1 journeyperson certification is not available. Persons may qualify for a rig technician 1 credential by applying to the Trades Qualifier Certificate Program.

A rig technician who holds a valid recognized credential that does not have a Red Seal may apply for:

Rig technicians who:

  • hold a credential that is not recognized or is no longer valid in an Alberta-designated trade, OR
  • can demonstrate their experience, skills and knowledge in an Alberta-designated trade, and meet the standards and requirements established by the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board

may be eligible to apply for trade certification under the Trades Qualifier Certificate Program.

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.


Apprenticeship Training

The rig technician 1 trade does not have an apprenticeship program.

The rig technician 1 credential is available to registered rig technician 3 apprentices after completion of the first period of the rig technician 3 program.

Review the rig technician 3 Course Outline.


Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

This 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) (see Exam Counselling Sheets)

Technical Training Resource List

  • Each period of technical training will require apprentices to purchase specific resources and supplies.
  • Contact the training provider where you will be attending training for a complete list.

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.