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Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months!
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Swearbox Offline

Posts: 30
Joined: Sep 2013
Post: #1818
Smile RE: Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months!
Here's another update intended to inform and inspire anyone who is thinking about making the move.

I finally arrived at Fort McMurray around 11pm local time two days ago. There was a bit of spotty rain and it was a few degrees colder than Ontario but nothing to piss and moan about. My mate picked me up from the airport and we headed off to his apartment and proceeded to shoot the shit til around 2.45am (we're both ex forces, not seen each other for 25 years but picked up as if it were only yesterday). I managed about 4 hours sleep then my mate dropped me off at HSE Integrated for a full day Fall Protect course...course finished early and I got my first ticket :-)

Today I was supposed to be at HSE again for my H2S course however thanks to a local taxi drivers strike (my mate started dayshift today so wasn't able to give me a ride) the taxi I booked last night to take me to HSE didn't show up and none of the cab companies I contacted in the phone book were working either. The pisser is I actually called the taxi company to confirm the booking at 7.15 am this morning and the guy said no probs the driver would be there. After waiting til just past 7.30 I rang back only to be told that he couldn't get the driver on the phone as his phone had been switched off so assume he wasn't coming...'fucking great', says me and rang off to start looking for an alternative.

Long story short I didn't manage to find a way to make the course on time so I called HSE to let them know I would be a no show. I arranged to go onto the cancellation waiting list for tomorrow's course but I'm 4th in line to get into that (in short zero chances). They did give me an alternative though - they (HSE) are running an H2S course up at Keyano college next tuesday so I bit the bullet and booked myself on it and paid for the course over the phone to guarantee a seat. I found a bus that goes close by so that will be my way of getting there on Tuesday. I called my HR girl to give her the details and she's fine with it...instead of starting work on Monday 14th Oct it'll now be Weds 16th Oct.

Now, there has been some good news and this part would fall under the 'inform and inspire' bit that I mentioned at the top of the post. Following the completion of my Fall Protect course I called my HR girl to bring her up to speed with developments - I'd landed in Fort Mac and I had my first ticket done and was going to be doing my second today and that my CSTS was already completed etc etc and right there out of the blue she made arrangements to see about indenturing me without having to do 3 months as a grunt doing labouring. I heard her having a convo with whoever else was in her office and after a short while she returned to the phone and said that's what they were going to do. She emailed me an Apprenticeship Application & Contract to sponsor me as an apprentice Instrumentation Tech and told me to fill it out and take it to the AIT office here in Fort Mac to get registered.

The only potential stopper would be the fact that as a Brit I don't have a Grade 12 high school transcript as my secondary schooling was completed back in 1976 in the UK. I spoke with AIT and they said no big deal...the way around this little problemette was that I would have to sit an entrance exam in lieu of not having Grade 12 papers. THEY DO NOT ACCEPT TRANSCRIPTS FROM OUTSIDE OF CANADA, YOU WILL HAVE TO SIT AN EXAM IF YOU WANT TO REGISTER FOR AN APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM AND YOU DID YOUR SCHOOLING OUTSIDE CANADA.

As for the exam, it's free (something FREE...finally) and they allow 3 hrs to complete it...multiple choice and there's a free study guide to get your juices flowing prior to taking the exam. You need to have completed and passed the exam before they will allow you to register for the college portion of the apprenticeship. So I have at least 3 months to get that done (probationary period with the company) but I'll be done way before that.

One final bit of good news that the HR girl communicated to me went something like this...

Me: "Blah blah driver strike...fucked for todays course...etc there you go...I can't get my H2S course done til Tuesday next week."

HR: "No probs, we'll just start you on Wednesday, no worries. Oh, I think I have something that might put a smile on your face though..."

Me: "Lay it on me."

HR: "Well, as you're going to be starting as a 1st yr apprentice instead of a grunt the signing on bonus just went from $5k to $10k."

HeartHeartHeartHeartHeartHeartHeartHeart I said in earlier posts IT CAN BE DONE, even from out of province (but admittedly it's not the norm given some of the conversations I've had since I arrived here). Take charge of the situation, demonstrate that you can get things done that are asked of you as it makes it way easier for those who hire you to do their jobs. Keep them informed and you will get noticed in a good way. It won't all be plain sailing so you have to be prepared for any minor challenges that may get in your way but if you can overcome them you'll be really glad you made the effort. I hope someone found something useful in this's just my way of giving to the forum that provided me with so many of the answers I was seeking.

(This post was last modified: 10-11-2013 11:56 AM by Swearbox.)
10-11-2013 11:49 AM
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Messages In This Thread
Risks, opportunities, import/export - OSL - 03-16-2013, 06:58 AM
RE: Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months! - Swearbox - 10-11-2013 11:49 AM