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Rig Technician 2


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 2 credential confirms the holder can also perform the tasks of a rig technician 1 credential. The job titles (i.e. tasks) commonly associated with each of the first two levels are motorhand (Level 1) and derrickhand (Level 2).

Motorhand (Level 1) is 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 labourers, ensuring they work safely and efficiently, and
  • participating in rig mobilization and de-mobilization (rig-up and tear-out).

Derrickhand (Level 2) is responsible for:

  • operating and maintaining drilling fluid systems and pumps during drilling,
  • mixing fluid chemicals and additives as required by the program,
  • handling sections of drill string assembly from a platform on the rig derrick during tripping operations,
  • monitoring and recording mud flows and volumes and fluid properties (i.e. mud weight),
  • working under the direction of the Driller and assisting the Driller with crew supervision, ensuring the crew works 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 in remote locations. They are often exposed to extremes in weather as well as to the 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 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,
  • the ability to lift items weighing in excess of 25 kilograms,
  • 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 away 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, occupations in rig supervision, oil and gas well supervision or rig safety, or various other career paths.


Working in Alberta

To work as a rig technician 2 in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice in the rig technician 3 program, be an Alberta-certified journeyperson, have a Qualification or Equivalency credential, or hold a valid recognized credential.

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 2 trade does not have an apprenticeship program.

The rig technician 2 credential is available to registered rig technician 3 apprentices after completion of the first two periods of the rig technician 3 program.

See the Rig Technician 3 Course Outline.


Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

The rig 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) (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.