The oil and gas industry involves so much more than drilling for gas, transporting products, and selling them on the market.
The operation of rigs and drilling platforms requires many moving parts, many of them electrical - which is electricians are a necessity to ensure efficient and safe operation of every oil project.
And you don’t need to start with an entry-level job to take advantage of this lucrative industry!
If you have an educational and occupational background as an electrician, there are many job opportunities available for individuals like you.
Perhaps you are looking for a career change or are considering getting started as an electrician. Either way, here are some of the positions available in the oil and gas industry and the requirements for each:
Electrical Technicians oversee projects that require electrical work such as electrical motors and generating systems.
They build, test, install, troubleshoot, repair, and modify electronic components to ensure that instrumentation panels remain functional and that costly interruptions are minimal.
Electrical Technicians usually work under the direction of an engineering staff.
To become an Electrical Technician, a one- or two-year post-secondary diploma in electrical or electronics engineering technology is usually required.
Licensing is also a requirement for this position, with certification in electrical or a related field provided by provincial associations. A period of supervised work experience is required before receiving a license.
In the oil and gas industry, Industrial Electricians install, repair, and maintain electrical equipment such as industrial controls and transmitters.
They also plan and lay out electrical systems based on technical drawings and specifications.
In order to become an Industrial Electrician, you need to complete a four- or five-year industrial electrician apprenticeship program through an approved technical school.
As far as licensing goes, trade certification for Industrial Electricians is compulsory in most Canadian provinces such as Alberta and Red Seal endorsement is also available to qualify Industrial Electricians.
Electrical Engineers research, design, develop, test, and supervise the installation of electrical equipment and systems.
They supervise the operation of the measuring instruments used in the design of automated systems.
This positions requires a post-secondary degree in electrical or engineering. To obtain a license as an Electrical Engineer, you must have your degree and pass a professional practice exam as well as have 3-4 years of engineering experience.
Unlicensed Electrical Engineers must work under the supervision of a professional engineer.
Oil Rig Electrician
Oil Rig Electricians, or Offshore Electricians, work on oil rigs or other drilling platforms (generally know as offshore jobs). They are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the electrical equipment that operates the oil rig as well as building new electrical systems for rigs in the oilfield.
Oil Rig Electricians can also work in the shipping industry, ensuring that the electronic components of a container ship or other large commercial vessel are working properly.
The qualifications to become an Oil Rig Electrician include a high school diploma (or GED) as well as professional experience and training.
You can enroll in a 3-5 year apprenticeship program to acquire a mix of classroom instruction and hands-on training.
The Career Path of an Electrician in the Oil and Gas Industry
Becoming an Electrician in any industry begins with learning and training. The easiest and most common way of doing this is to become an apprentice, which involves approximately 500-1000 hours of classes as well as hands-on learning.
Electrical apprentices work with master and chief electricians, both learning and earning and income. The entire program usually takes about 4-5 years to complete.
Once finished your apprenticeship program, you can get the licensing and certification required by your province or state to practice as an Electrician - although some areas may require that you work as a journeyman under a master electrician.
After gaining some experience beyond the journeyman level, you can then become a master electrician. Master electricians can do unsupervised work, pull permits, and guide other electricians as well as train apprentices.
All throughout this journey, you can certainly gain employment in the oil and gas industry. Like any other position in this industry, there is always room for advancement and further training to develop a long-lasting and lucrative career.
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