Why Jobs in Alberta’s Oil Field are a Huge Stepping Stone to Any Career in the Trades

When it comes to labour-intensive career paths, nothing beats good, hands-on work. Worker shortages fluctuate all the time and different industry positions might become more financially enticing for experienced workers, but great work ethic is always in demand in Alberta.

If you're looking to break into a career path in the trades, and you want to fast track your experience, working in Alberta's oil fields will open doors to all kinds of trade job opportunities – not just in the oil sector, either.

About Alberta oil field jobs

On the news (depending on the desired slant of the story), Alberta's “oil fields” or "oil sands" jobs are often painted with broad strokes. Working "up North" is a simple way of describing a multitude of different job types, with trades professionals of all types. There are many moving parts to any efficient oil field operation.

We can't break down every single type of trade job you're likely to find in Alberta's oil fields, but the following are five main types of oil industry positions you're likely to encounter, including their basic responsibilities. Almost all job roles depend on the cooperation with one another, so teamwork and collaboration are always key.

Rig Managers

  • Responsible for management of personnel, including work coordination, equipment maintenance scheduling, employee safety training, and reporting
  • Typically oversee operations of the rig and ensure teams are set up to work together efficiently and safely
  • Rig Managers will often be in charge of ensuring all staff training is valid and up-to-date as part of their commitment to safe operation

Job Requirements Example:

  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Valid H2S Alive Certification
  • Valid CSO (Common Safety Orientation) 
  • Valid Standard First Aid Certification
  • Valid Well Service Blowout Prevention
  • Multiple Years of Service and Drilling Rig Experience


  • Monitor activity of the rig, including overseeing all well servicing rig processes
  • Operate controls to guide the equipment
  • Facilitate safety drills, team checks, and equipment checks

Job Requirements Example:

  • Valid H2S Alive Certification
  • Valid Standard First Aid Certification
  • Enform Driller/Operator Competency
  • Class 5 Driver's License With Airbrakes Endorsement

Floorhands / ROughnecks

  • Tripping pipe and making connections
  • Ensure that the drill floor is ready for operation (clean, organized)
  • Inspect rig elements (tongs, rotary table, pipe spinner, etc.) for wear & readiness
  • Assist Derrickhand in duties, including mixing mud and chemicals
  • Rigging up and rigging out of the oil rig

Job Requirements Example:

  • Valid H2S Alive Certification
  • Valid WHMIS Certification
  • Valid Standard First Aid Certification
  • Class 5 Driver's License

Career Paths & Traits

You can get your foot in the door as a Floorhand and work your way up to rig manager, or take your experience into other trades. All hands-on experience is extremely valuable for anyone looking to expand their skill set for any type of manual labor position.

Since working in the oil field requires collaboration and teamwork, many workers find themselves to be versatile in their skillset. Being able to understand how and why someone else does their job in relation to your role is extremely valuable and only stands to improve how you perform in your own work.

As a result of this dynamic, people with oil field experience tend to be highly adaptable to new environments. Typically, people in this field are eager to take on a challenge and are exceptional hands-on learners with a desire to create or restore.

Alberta's Oil Fields Need More Trades Workers of all types

While it’s completely normal for certain industries to see a fluctuation in their worker shortages, it’s important to hone in on those that show a consistent pattern of need. Without preemptive action, companies could lose money, and existing workers could miss out on jobs because of staffing requirements, among other setbacks.

BuildForce Canada conducted a detailed study to forecast future worker needs in Alberta. They concluded that there simply won’t be enough people to carry out certain jobs, which is a good indication that this is still an excellent time to work in this sector.

The Top 5 Trades in Alberta Where WOrkers Are in Need:

1. Carpenters

With the above-mentioned study in mind, Carpenter Jobs are projected to be in demand well into 2030.

These workers perform general woodworking tasks such a cutting, shaping, and installing wood building materials.

2. Insulators 

According to the study by BuildForce Canada, insulators are by far the most important workers that are in demand right now in Alberta.

These workers are increasingly important because they help save energy, reduce noise, and protect homes and other structures against fires by installing and replacing crucial building and insulation materials.

3. Technicians and mechanics for industrial instruments

It is absolutely essential to have a technician on staff to install, maintain, and repair various pieces of crucial company equipment.

Anything you use to control and measure different industrial processes will need to be calibrated, adjusted, and maintained on a regular basis. Skilled mechanics are imperative so repair delays don’t interrupt the production cycle or process.

4. Bricklayers

While it’s evident that these workers lay brick as part of their duties, but there’s more to it than that. Aside from laying brick, concrete, and stone in mortar, Bricklayers are also in charge of constructing and maintaining commercial and residential buildings.

Certain structural repairs also fall under the responsibility of the bricklayer, they will handle any chimney, walls, foundation, and even decorative masonry.

Workers of this nature are increasingly important in Alberta.

5. Boilermakers

As their title suggests, boilermakers are in charge of assembly and installation of boilers, closed vats, and other similar large containers that hold gas or liquid. They are also responsible for any repairs to these large and essential vessels.

Per the report, this role isn’t as high in demand as some of the others, but there is sustainable opportunity and growth for anyone interested in this line of work, plus it is easily transferable to many industries.

Summary: Trades Jobs in Alberta Continue to be a Great Career Choice

It's a great time to lay plans for your future. If you’re currently working in an Alberta oilfield, you can start to explore all the options that the area has to offer. Working in Alberta's oilfields provides an amazing foundation for any labour-intensive position, all the way up to managerial and executive roles as well. Most oilfield workers are adaptable and versatile in their skill set, making them more prepared for diverse work opportunities.

When you start with a quality foundation, you set yourself up for sustainable success, so what are you waiting for? It’s time to take inventory of your skills and find out what you’re really worth in this demanding job market; all you need is to actively pursue opportunities.

How to Access the best trade jobs in Alberta

After you think about the experience you already have, or that which you want to work towards, you might be wondering where to get started. Luckily, our team is working tirelessly to seek out the most relevant and promising opportunities for labour workers in Alberta, plus online training that actual employers require.

If you’re interested in trade jobs, labour positions, and industry opportunities, then Alberta Labour has the resources you need.