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

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Post: #2268
RE: Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months!
(02-11-2014 05:04 AM)ASOT Wrote:  Is there much discussion of tradesman apprenticeships (I think Canadians call them journeymen) in this thread (i.e. getting an apprenticeship, pay, requirements etc)?

(02-11-2014 05:04 AM)ASOT Wrote:  Is there much discussion of tradesman apprenticeships (I think Canadians call them journeymen) in this thread (i.e. getting an apprenticeship, pay, requirements etc)?

Well RVF, this post will serve as my genesis and as such I will attempt to be as comprehensive and thorough in my descriptions as possible.

I will shed light on certain facets of life in Western Canada as it pertains to working in the energy sector as a young, confident man with aspirations of excellence in health, wealth and women. Included topics:

- How I became indentured as an apprentice welder
- What I did for work, what I earned, my potential to increase earnings, what my colleagues earned
- How to network within the industry
- The pros/ cons of night game as a young man in Edmonton
- Type of game needed on the certain type of women you tend to find in droves ("educated" sluts who like "country boys" with tattoos, a new truck with alloy rims and all the toys to go with it)
- The good spots
- Negative aspects of the culture someone should know

My story is this: I spent the latter seven months of 2013 living in Edmonton and working >55 hours a week just south in Nisku (one of the world's largest industrial parks) from 0630 --> 1730, Monday to Friday + the occasional Saturday. I was "recruited" to play for a rugby club in Edmonton. The guy who brought me out from the west coast was an old teammate from my club back home. He happened to be the general foreman at an industrial construction firm that specializes in building piping modules (Google it) for oil and gas refineries. Since this was an entirely new industry for me, I was hired on as a labourer after passing a urine test (they're looking for marijuana) and taking my CSTS, a six-hour long online course in construction safety.

They assigned me as a helper to one of the rig welders on site (our worksite being an 800m x 300m gravel lot). These welders were the impetus for me to declare welding as my apprenticed trade. They're called rig welders because the whole truck and generator system is referred to as a "rig." These guys are journeyman welders (fully ticketed tradesmen) who drive 3500 class pickup trucks out of necessity because of the welder/ generator anchored in the bed. From this machine, these welders are able to spool out their cables, fire up their diesel-fueled welders and stick-weld pipe or structural steel in a variety of contorted positions. There were many days where I was tasked with dragging cables, disc grinders, hammers and files 30 feet up these modules only to have to shimmy between 8 inch pipe to assist him while he welded on his back, suspended from scaffolding, etc. etc.

As an entry level labourer AKA " a green hand," I was making $19.84 before taxes, plus 10% vacation pay and an additional 6% the firm contributed out of their coffers into my RRSP (retirement/ mortgage down payment fund). We were on the clock for 10.5 hours a day, so 2.5 hours of each day was at time and a half pay rate, despite Alberta being structured on 44 hour work weeks.

Compare this to the welder I was helping, who had just turned 25 and got his B-pressure (a welding endorsement achieved through passing practical exams that allow one to weld on pressure vessels i.e. pipe) and, who as a contractor, charged $100 dollars an hour. Being a contractor, he was not eligible for overtime or vacation pay, RRSP contributions etc.

As an employee of the firm, deductions on my paychecks were due to the Canadian Pension Plan, provincial tax and federal income tax. All told, I was netting only about 73% of what I had actually earned based on my wage. Of that 27% I never saw, about 20% of it was income tax. As an independent contractor, my welder only had to pay about 13% (He showed me his pay stubs. What you earn in Alberta eventually ends up in the public domain.) This amounts to $10,000 a paycheck, every two weeks, more if we had to come in and play catch-up on Saturday. This guy wasn't even the youngest on site; I was buddies with a 23 year old welder who ran his rig out of a 2009 F350 Harley-Davidson trim Ford, not even close to the most expensive truck on site.

For the two welders on site who had endorsements to weld stainless steel, they were allowed to charge $110, which was virtually an industry standard.

I was told that I would receive a substantial raise if I were to become indentured as an apprentice. Naturally, welding seemed the right choice. After jumping some bureaucratic hurdles, 3 1/2 months later I had my blue book and was registered with the Alberta Apprenticeship program. True to their word, my firm increased my wage more than 100%. I was now 3 months involved in a brand new sector of the economy and was making $30.10 an hour, literally more than triple what I was making working in restaurants in B.C. With a higher wage came a higher tax bracket, now maybe 24% of my deductions were income tax related. Regardless, if I worked every hour of my shift, my bi-weekly paycheques would read about $3,450 before deductions, and roughly $2,350 after.

Having just turned 20, I was enjoying myself immensely, and therein lay the problem. With such a large cash flow, it became easier to justify those purchases you wouldn't have been able to even comprehend existing previously. I spent around $800 over Canada Day weekend solely on bar tabs and not including taxi cabs, reef, gas money, meals etc. I suited up with one of my welders and dropped $450 in one night at Union Hall on bottle service (maybe that ain't much to guys like McQueen who are popping $10,000 bottles of Dom with the American "social elite," but to the rest of us...) Suffice to say, after purchasing my current wheels, investing in some maintenance and fresh duds, calling in to work sick (read: still drunk) a couple times and taking a road trip, I was basically living paycheque to paycheque, a bad habit all too easy to adopt.

The final tally after 6 1/2 months on the job, 3 1/2 of which I was earning $20/hr, the remainder at $30/hr, I earned just under $32,000, clearing about $21,500 plus an additional $2,000 contributed into my RRSP.

Here's a break down of hourly payscales throughout the yard for some perspective on advancement opportunity:

Un-indentured green hands - $20

Un-indentured green hands w/ industrial experience - $25

1st year apprentice - $30

2nd year - $33.50

3rd year - $37

Journeyman, employee - $42

Journeyman, contractor - $57

Leadhand, employee (not necessarily a journeyman, one step below foreman, similar to a sergeant to a lieutenant) - $50

Foreman, contractor (Anyone foreman or higher tends to be individual contractor, tax breaks, mobility and such etc.) ~$68

General foreman, contractors ~ $75-85

Superintendent, contractor ~$85-$95

Project manager ~$100

B-pressure rig welders $100-$110

To me it's pretty clear that to make money quick from a young age in this industry, the path of least resistance would be:

- Develop above average welding skills,

- Finish your Red Seal journeyman ticket,

- Finance a truck between 4-8 years old, take out a loan --from your tribe if you can manage, avoid banks at all costs-- for miscellaneous hand tools and the welding generator, (all told you're going to require about $20k-$40k of start-up capital depending on quality of gear, new v. used etc.)

- Incorporate your own business

- Start networking to find the good jobs.

A tangent on networking in Alberta: Because there are so many people in positions of authority and power who were raised in a country setting with very little onus to pursue higher education --due to the proximity to the oilfield and trades being that much more lucrative-- there are a lot of hard-partying carousers and general boozers who run companies, or who have brother who's a liaison for an engineering firm, or quality control on a pipeline etc. These guys are usually the racists, the bigots, the homophobes, the idiots. However, we as alpha males in the modern age have an obligation to take advantage of every and any situation for the betterment of our own lives. I made the mistake early of voicing my criticisms of those prejudices that are so deeply linked to their general lack of self-esteem, confidence and ignorance. By no means am I advocating you go shoot shit about how you hate all these "goddamn zipper heads and Pakis," but just don't say that it's wrong to hate them to your foremean when you're out for post-work drinks. Go along to get along, you never know who you may be talking to.

Whereas many people who seek out wealth in the oilfield must resort to camp life, I was able to go home every night, cook my own meals with fresh groceries, maintain a good level of fitness throughout an entire rugby season and go out to the bars on weekends to try and get laid. Unfortunately, I did not discover the game or fully swallow the red pill until I was on my way out of the city.

I only put my penis in two women during my time there. One was a 19-year old girl from Vancouver who flew to Calgary then took a charter bus up to see me during Stampede weekend. The other was a 40-year old childless divorcee who hadn't had any new dick since she was 22. How I conducted myself from pickup to close, how I got her to cook and do my sexual bidding was what finally shed light on the dominance potential that I have within myself, the execution of such being my responsibility as a male. Along the way I was hooking up with but never closing a 17-year old half-Filipino bar hostess (sexy thing, first time I ever successfully got my nut on a Day 2) and a 22 year old, five-foot-zero petite feminist law student whose aspirations included being a prosecutor in sexual harassment cases... Suffice to say I was reticent to push the envelope when it came to dominance in escalation.

Since then I have acquired four new notches in the last 45 days, including one where I blacked out and unconsciously gamed and took home a 25 year old "HB9." But I digress.

The City's Issue: Geographically speaking, Edmonton is one of the worst cities I have ever been to for running game, but especially daygame. The downtown core is rife with invalids and street urchins, it's small, it looks shitty and it's always under construction. Apart from West Edmonton Mall, one of the world's largest, Whyte Avenue will be where you want to expend most of your gaming efforts, both day and night. Hands down the most modern and hip part of Edmonton, it is also where the highest concentration of bars, clubs and restaurants is located. The downside is that eight months of the year it's cold and foreboding out so there is not much poonani on the streets anyways. The fellas and I didn't go to many traditional nightclubs as I hadn't yet manned up with solo game and the guys I usually went out with spit pretty tight talk game. If you decide to cross the North Saskatchewan River and hit the central business district's bar scene, be prepared to spend at least $75 in cabs as the public transit is shit. If you're into drunk driving then feel free, it happens more in Edmonton than anywhere else I have seen, but I can't say I particularly advocate that.

The Cultural Issue: The predominant look you see in the men of Edmonton can be described as either "semi-casual redneck" or "tattooed wannabe hipster meathead." Granted you see some normal folk, travelers and the like, but the times where I suited down with a blue Mexx blazer, dark slacks and an open collared blue shirt, it was obvious that I was the only one taking pride in my appearance. Of course, there's always some dudes in a checkered flannel who make some snide remark over the presence of your pocket square, but I just big-leagued them and turned my back on them. These are the sorts who just get piled up and go around saying stupid shit to anyone in the hopes they can get in a rumble with their posse of camo-wearing rig pigs to back them up. The only two guys I saw wearing a suit to the bar were my Australian roommate and my welder buddy who had a purported notch count of 60+. However, the issue is such; Albertan girls have become so desensitized to what they believe constitutes a man --current model year pickup truck he can't really afford, decent cash flow from a job he can't really sustain, muscles from workouts he doesn't quite know how to do- that any derivative of this norm is met with vaginal hubris mixed with a haughty air of skepticism. Every girl in Edmonton has a beta provider "boyfriend" that she will quickly refer to if at any moment you say or do or look in a way that doesn't parallel 100% to her preconceived canned model of masculinity. Now, I can rock the shit out of my duds and can hold court like Ron Burgundy's balls, but some bitches would at times try and convince me that I wasn't really the person I was dressed up as. We laughed at these types of whores and told them to remove their bent and squished pomeranian faces from our vicinity. The issue of entitlement in Edmontonian girls is doubly worsened when you compound the gold digger attitude with the know-it-all-ness that a liberal undergrad schooling ingrains in their cunty little heads. Also for young guys, if you give up age on them and are not dismissed outright, be prepared for an uphill battle. Most girls here are seeking a meal ticket so by having age as value and status over her, it will play into her desires.

The Bars:

The mainstream spots are gonna be the franchises known as:

1) The Pint

2) Hudson's Taphouse,

These places are well lit during the day and serve decent pub food during the day but total chaos ensues at night midst the clamouring of blue bill betas fresh off their rotation with a fat stack to burn through by night's end. These are the guys buying drinks for any hot girl they see while simultaneously pounding Jagerbombs just creaming themselves trying to get drunk enough to approach.

These two places attract a lot of the typical aggressive "Alberta fucks" (If you don't know what I mean, go work in Alberta and you will know EXACTLY what I mean) that spit weak, loud, obnoxious cockblock game.

On the flipside, deadly spots are going to be those that attract a slightly older clientele (24-28) with a slight rocker, hipster edge to them. These bars have superior layouts, better music, the appropriate lighting and better, often beer. They also have lower decibel levels so a conversation is very feasible, dare I say easy. All the bars I have listed are on Whyte Avenue, exceptions will be noted:

- Black Dog

-The Buckingham

- The Tavern

- The Rack (a lot more of a club atmosphere)

- O' Byrne's (personal favourite; serves Guiness, big patio, cheerful atmosphere)

- The Mercer and the Druid (both downtown, north of the river, these are the places where I got the best dances, mos t attention, most kisses, and most numbers. They are also two of the only places I went in Alberta where dressing sharp was actually an advantage)

The one club I attended that I can critique is Union Hall

1) Union Hall

- A somewhat grimy club south of Whyte Ave., where I got bottle service with my wing. The booths you get for bottle service are fairly visible and central so you can scope talent as it makes it's way by, pulling girls in or high-fiving them as they go by etc,. $200 for Patron, Belv or Goose. One of the hottest waitress I have ever seen, dressed so you could almost see her pussy lips when she walked around in little white booty shorts. If an average guy were to suit up here, get in a good state, spit tight game at the fly girls, and ignore the mingers, you will pull at least a 6. Add a point if you get bottle service.

The one place I would say avoid if you're a normal guy in his mid to late twenties or older is "The Ranch." The predominant country bar/ nightclub in Edmonton, you will be in over your head very quickly if you can't step to country girl game and two step to shitty Florida Georgia Line remixes. The drinking age being 18 in Alberta, don't be surprised if you see girls who are sporting mosquito bites under blouses hanging off their still developing bodies. Seriously, I'm 20 and I felt old being here. Never closed any girl from here, approached plenty. Most girls are real happy when they're here but the market is saturated with pitiful bro's and recently graduated social retards who manage to pick up equally socially damaged nervous girls. If you're like me and you're >6' & >80kg, there will honestly be an intimidation factor present in a lot of the young girls you approach, especially if you're dressed like an urban alpha and not wearing Paul Bunyan's button-down that's tucked into a pair of Wranglers. As an example, if you were to approach some of this fresh meat, odds are she will meet your gaze for maybe the first 4 seconds of the exchange before getting pulled away by her equally stupid friend who will regurgitate some trite remark about having to go/ do/ see/ meet somewhere/ something/ someone. These girls simply don't know how to flirt and have the shortest attention span simply because it's usually the first time out for many and all the meat they have two-stepping on the central dance floor.Don't waste your time. Saying that, if you're all about country chic, you want to get this place on lock. I have the manager's cell number if anyone is in in town trying to get guest list. The one promotion company manages Union Hall, the Ranch and the Central Social Hall downtown. I've heard that is also a decent spot, a little more mature

In short, travel to Alberta to see the Calgary Stampede, the Rockies and to accumulate wealth. There is nothing more to it. The women have deeply ingrained preferences and odds are if you're just hitting the bars and running night game on your rotations off work, you won't run into a single quality girl that will be loyal, smitten by your charms or who yearns for a meat injection from your veiny flesh needle. I'm not saying it can't happen, but come to Vancouver or Victoria if you're trying to find arm-candy or more drastically a LTR. The main exception is if you have an in to a group of locals and you can run social circle game, as I did at my rugby club.

I hope this post was enlightening, for if it were it would mirror my experience in the Wild Rose Province.


I'm trying to draw some traffic to my blog. It contains lay reports, satire, views on life etc. as viewed through the kaleidoscope of a 20 year old Canadian.

Check it out if this post was at all helpful.
(This post was last modified: 02-12-2014 12:08 AM by Condog.)
02-11-2014 11:08 PM
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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! - Condog - 02-11-2014 11:08 PM