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

scotian

Peacock
Gold Member
How are you guys still making this big money? Damn I picked the wrong trade.

It's been dead in industrial for us for a couple years now. And screw working in town running your bag off for 50k a year. Lots of people out of work right now. Glad to see you figured out the way scotian!

PM me bro and I’ll explain it in detail, there’s at least ten or more RVF oil sands guys working around Northern Alberta these days, I’m trying to get them to join me here in BC, much nicer views on this side of Rockies, better unions and more $$$
 
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Scotian, this thread is a fantastic resource. Thank you!

I have five years of experience as an electronics technician in the US military. My experience is mostly working with RADAR and radio systems. Do you know what oil job these skills would transfer to the best?
 

scotian

Peacock
Gold Member
Scotian, this thread is a fantastic resource. Thank you!

I have five years of experience as an electronics technician in the US military. My experience is mostly working with RADAR and radio systems. Do you know what oil job these skills would transfer to the best?

Yes but send me a PM, I don’t want the lurkers knowing my secrets
 

hedonist

Kingfisher
I spent months on end in camps from around 2009-2014, some shitty but most were nice. After the oil crash they went downhill so now your room doesntget cleaned every day and the food isn’t always the greatest. Still it’s a good way to save cash but for me after 3-4 weeks of it I get irritated, fortunately I’m working out of a city these days so can have a bit of a life.

Yeah I did camps with the odd hotel from 2012-2020, once you get executive rooms its hard to go back to jack and jills or the CNRL gang showers!!
It would be ok if everyone was respectful but you get a bunch of grubs. The room cleaning drop off never bothered me but I do love good food.

How are you guys still making this big money? Damn I picked the wrong trade.

It's been dead in industrial for us for a couple years now. And screw working in town running your bag off for 50k a year. Lots of people out of work right now. Glad to see you figured out the way scotian!

In the commissioning field which used to pay some of the highest money its almost been slashed in half due to companies sewering the rates and the overall lack of work. I've had a few job offers for $100K in the city but I always like the time off from FIFO work and I can't do much with 2-4 weeks holiday a year!!! Now its a bit of a different story....the scales have balanced a lot more.



Scotian, this thread is a fantastic resource. Thank you!

I have five years of experience as an electronics technician in the US military. My experience is mostly working with RADAR and radio systems. Do you know what oil job these skills would transfer to the best?

Plenty of the big companies have small maintenance crews for PAGA setups/on site radio. I've got a couple of buddies that fly all over the world commissioning the systems and some mod work (most are based in the UK though). Their stories come straight out of this book (great read)
I actually asked a couple if they wrote it :laughter:

 

scotian

Peacock
Gold Member
I still have nightmares of the CNRL Horizon camps, when I first went there in 2009 they had the bars open in camp and guys would get wasted, you could bring beer in your rooms so you’d see guys with 40s of booze and 2-4s. They once had a raffle for two Texas mickeys of hard liquor at the entrance of the dining hall. The last time I was there in 2018, after a four year absence, I asked security about the bar, the lady told me closing it was the best thing to have happened because guys would get black out drunk, try to find the washroom and walk into another guy’s unlocked room and piss on the guy. Imagine walking up to a drunk dude pissing on your face haha, I’d kill him.
 
Does anybody have experience or solid knowledge about the pay scales of these maintenance/technician type of positions? Also, what kind of progression/ceiling would be achievable if you started at an energy company in this role? The national average pay for industrial mechanics and welders are both around 50k annually. I'm curious if the higher pay in Canada is solely due to the "in the field" factor or if the pay is higher across the sector even working in the Texas oil patch for example at a refinery or fuel terminal.
 

scotian

Peacock
Gold Member
It can be a bit hard to explain to someone without experience in the field and it took me awhile to figure it out but the most basic way I can describe it is that you shouldn't take a job where you wear one of those wide brimmed hard hats that the guy in the above video is wearing, you want to wear the more traditional style hard that you see guys wearing on construction sites in the city.

I've said this a million times on this thread over the years- don't get into oil field work like drilling, fracking, geo-physical stuff (mud logging, wire lining, etc) because once oil shits the bed and goes bust, you'll be sitting on your ass not making any money, it's boom and bust. WTF does a fracking guy do when oil is down? I have no clue because I don't know any of those types of guys, perhaps Cattle Rustler can explain it.

Instead, I've always recommended TAKING A SKILLED TRADE!!!!

So welder, pipe fitter, boilermaker, crane operator, carpenter, insulator, electrician, plumber, sprinkler fitter, HVAC, instrumentation tech, machinest, etc.

All of the above trades can work in oil and gas but unlike oil field jobs, if oil goes bust then the skilled trades can work at shipyard, nuke plants, power plants, aviation, power plants, hydro, commercial construction, residential construction, etc.

I think that those job statistics sites are a bit misleading, sure there's some welders who make shitty money working at a non union sweat shop in some backwater town where he competes for work with illegals but that's a lot different than a union boiler maker or pipefitter welder in say Seattle, Chicago, NYC, etc where the unions are strong.

Again, here's links to the types of unions/work that I recommend guys look for:

Boiler Makers: https://boilermakers.org/

Pipefitters: http://www.ua.org/

Electricians: http://www.ibew.org/
 
So not to nitpick, but what roles would you recommend then for someone with the electrician, plumber, instrumentation tech, ect style background? The guys in the video seem to be site maintenance doing those skilled trades. Or does an Industrial Mechanic not fit into that niche or not have the specialization? I ask since personally I am a Journeyman Industrial Mechanic. Work like those guys in the video most closely aligns with my skill set...however, maybe there are more/better positions to utilize those skills. FWIW I have an engineering degree as well, but do not want to move into a solely design role. Hence field service is the desired path but its difficult to get an idea where to land when you get into the field.

Maybe you can explain the hard hat dynamic better, are those guys field service or contract hires vs. the facility guys in the video? Is the high pay scales at green sites? I appreciate the union links but actually explored this for HV transmission line maintenance. I found out that despite 8 years of related training, I would once again have to start at the beginning of the union's 4 year program at a not insignificant pay cut. It's a bit of a complicated path when you literally have a trade cert and an ABET accredited engineering degree and still can't find a path to a reasonable salary...maybe I should just be content in the 60-70k range.
 
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scotian

Peacock
Gold Member
So not to nitpick, but what roles would you recommend then for someone with the electrician, plumber, instrumentation tech, ect style background? The guys in the video seem to be site maintenance doing those skilled trades. Or does an Industrial Mechanic not fit into that niche or not have the specialization? I ask since personally I am a Journeyman Industrial Mechanic. Work like those guys in the video most closely aligns with my skill set...however, maybe there are more/better positions to utilize those skills. FWIW I have an engineering degree as well, but do not want to move into a solely design role. Hence field service is the desired path but its difficult to get an idea where to land when you get into the field.

Maybe you can explain the hard hat dynamic better, are those guys field service or contract hires vs. the facility guys in the video? Is the high pay scales at green sites? I appreciate the union links but actually explored this for HV transmission line maintenance. I found out that despite 8 years of related training, I would once again have to start at the beginning of the union's 4 year program at a not insignificant pay cut. It's a bit of a complicated path when you literally have a trade cert and an ABET accredited engineering degree and still can't find a path to a reasonable salary...maybe I should just be content in the 60-70k range.

I haven't worked along side many industrial mechanics over the years, AFAIK they work directly for the client (refinery, pulp mill, etc) and are often unionized, Homer Simpson clock puncher types. I work for subcontractor companies that usually do temporary, maintenance outage type work. Sometimes there's millwrights around, the last job I worked with them was for General Electric, they were ripping apart a big steam turbine in a HRSG boiler at an oil site but 90% of the time I work with pipefitters and boiler makers in refineries, pipelines, oil storage tanks and other petroleum facilities.

The advantage of working direct for the facility is that you have a set schedule so know where or when you're working, this is good for family type guys. Myself, I prefer to work crazy hours in short amounts of time then take long vacations although I decided to leave such a job and start a new gig in Vancouver and will be working a 10 days on 4 off rotation on ten hour days, should be a decent gig, new construction is pretty nice, cleaner than an operating oil refinery anyway.

I suggest finding out where the big mega projects are, figuring out who the subcontractors are and applying to them:

Top 5 ongoing mega projects in USA in 2020
 
I'll check out the link thanks! I had some brief experience with some of those steam turbines and understand some of the nature of that outage based work. We were merely the supplier/retrofitter for the inlet, outlet, and trip shutoff servomotor driven valves for the unit. With my relocation plans I'm looking to move from the clock puncher role into more of the work schedule you've found.
 

CR500

Chicken
So things are quiet in the oil sands right now. Are things expected to pick up much once the Trans Mountain pipeline extension, Enbridge Line 3 goes in and IF the Keystone XL pipeline gets completed? I was hoping to go there for work in 2 years or so and was hoping these extra pipelines might improve the amount of work on offer there.
 

CaptainChardonnay

Ostrich
Gold Member
Hi guys, I just got started a new job in the oil sands with Scotian’s advice and help, I’m now working for a union company at a maintenance job at a local refinery, so despite the low oil prices and Covid, there’s still work out there, this is how I got the job. I was hanging out with Scotian a couple of months ago and asking him about his job and how to get into it, he explained it all to me and how it’s pretty easy to get into but it’s better in the early spring and early fall. It was already October by then so Scotian said there still could be work but I was a bit late. Anyway, I hadn’t been working for awhile, so I packed up my car and moved to Edmonton and stayed at Scotian’s condo.

Then I met most of the RVF Oil Sands crew, there’s about a dozen guys living in Edmonton who are in Scotian’s trade and work for a few different companies around the city, most of them have been in the trade for a few years now and some are senior technicians who have pull at these companies. I was advised by Scotian and the guys to take an online course which took me a few days to do and cost about $1000, this would help me get into the trade as it shows initiative to hiring companies. I was in Edmonton for a couple of weeks and applied to a few different companies then one of them got back to me and offered to put me on a five day rope access course, which I had to pay $1000 ($2000 value) but if I passed, I’d get a job, which is what happened and now I’m working full time at a job that, if I want to, can become my full time career and I can retire from, with a nice pension, it’s what Scotian and the other guys are all doing.

I’m pretty stoked to be learning a new trade, it’s interesting and I’m making pretty good money now, I’ll keep getting raises as I get more certifications and am on my way to be, making six figures in six months. If any other Canadian guys are interested in making the move to Edmonton and joining the RVF Oil Sands crew, we’re all willing to help and I need a roommate at Scotian’s place so feel free to PM me.

CC
 

IndianOne

Chicken
Hey y'all...

I'm kinda new here on the oilsands thread so I thought I'd introduce myself. Just moved to Toronto this past December as a PR. I read the thread from first to last but I'm guessing with oil prices being down, the guidelines Soctian laid down has changed. I understand his recommendation is to get a trade first and foremost so I'm focusing on that. I'm quite interested in the HVAC industry since that's what I'm most familiar with based on my experience. However, that's not a hard and fast rule of any sort and I'd be open to any and all suggestions from the veterans of this thread. Essentially the goal is to run a business of my own/be my own boss with the financial independence to travel like y'all do. Help a newbie out please!
 

911

Peacock
Gold Member
Oil prices are going to rise later this year due to mideast instability (Yemen, Iraq, Syria and possibly Iran), the global economy picking up, and US$ inflation. The question is if that idiot in Ottawa is going to set the industry back on track...
 
hey Indian one,

Do you like driving,you could get your class 1 truck lisence...it would probably cost $3-4000 dollars,there is companies in Alberta who will take you on as a swamper and if you show a good attitude they will pay for your class 1 training,air brakes etc they will also let you get your driving experience with them using their company trucks,all the high paying truck jobs look for 3-5 years driving truck experience,with a near perfect driving record.where are you living now?
 

Pelern

Sparrow
Oil prices are going to rise later this year due to mideast instability (Yemen, Iraq, Syria and possibly Iran), the global economy picking up, and US$ inflation. The question is if that idiot in Ottawa is going to set the industry back on track...
There seems to be too much outside pressure on keeping Canadian oil/Natural Gas without the pipelines needed to distribute it to the rest of the world.
 

IndianOne

Chicken
hey Indian one,

Do you like driving,you could get your class 1 truck lisence...it would probably cost $3-4000 dollars,there is companies in Alberta who will take you on as a swamper and if you show a good attitude they will pay for your class 1 training,air brakes etc they will also let you get your driving experience with them using their company trucks,all the high paying truck jobs look for 3-5 years driving truck experience,with a near perfect driving record.where are you living now?
Hey @lakesideboss ,

Thanks for the reply. I did read about the driving aspect on this thread, but I figured instead of learning a completely new trade and entrusting my fate to whether a company thinks I'm good enough or not, I'd go with something that's easier to transition into running my own shop/business further down the line. Not to mention that with the rise of autonomous vehicles, that trade might soon not look like what it does anymore.

Also to all of the oilsands veterans, what, if any effect has the Keystone pipeline being nixed had on the jobs front?
 

Pelern

Sparrow
Hey @lakesideboss ,

Thanks for the reply. I did read about the driving aspect on this thread, but I figured instead of learning a completely new trade and entrusting my fate to whether a company thinks I'm good enough or not, I'd go with something that's easier to transition into running my own shop/business further down the line. Not to mention that with the rise of autonomous vehicles, that trade might soon not look like what it does anymore.

Also to all of the oilsands veterans, what, if any effect has the Keystone pipeline being nixed had on the jobs front?
I can't see any expansion of the oilsands until we get more pipelines. Most of the big internationals pulled out years ago. Even when the oilsands and Alberta were booming there was millions of dollars being spent to block pipelines. They should have been built 20 years ago.

Trudeau made a comment a few years ago that the Oilsands would have to be phased out openly and there was a clip privately he made that I can't find anymore where he said the same thing and set a date for it. I think it 2030 or 2035.
 
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