5 Common Entry Level Petroleum Industry Jobs And Their Salaries


If you’re looking for an industry that will offer plenty of job opportunities in the future, you would do well to consider a future in the petroleum industry.

Operations in Alberta’s oil sands alone currently employ more than 20,000 people, and are slated to increase their workforce by more than 70% by 2021, with more than 90% of employers in the petroleum industry currently hiring.

This volume of opportunity corresponds to a great variety in the types of entry level positions available in the petroleum industry. Below you’ll find a list of some entry level engineering, geology, technologist and skilled trades job descriptions, the education and training required to secure these positions, as well as an estimate of what you can expect to earn in each role.

Engineer-in-Training (EIT)

Most new engineering graduates start their careers in the oil and gas industry as Engineers-in-Training (EITs) – that means they’ve completed their academic requirements but are still working toward gaining the required experience to be licensed as a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.). Typically, petroleum employers allow EITs to rotate through a number of different areas and locations within the organization and its operations to gain a variety of knowledge and experience while they work toward their professional designation.

An EIT’s role and responsibilities will differ depending on their specialty area and the type of rotation they are completing, but an EIT can expect to work with more experienced Engineers and other petroleum professionals both in an office setting and in a number of different field settings and locations, while also having the opportunity to participate in ongoing training and education initiatives.

A four-year degree in Engineering is required, as well as Engineer-in-Training membership (or being eligible for membership) with The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). The vast majority of entry level engineering jobs in the oil and gas industry are located in Alberta, but membership with your province’s professional association may be required to work in other regions as well. If you are already a member in another province, you may transfer your membership to APEGA to be eligible to work in Alberta.

Once an EIT’s professional designation is achieved, a career path as an Engineer within the organization would begin.

Base salary: Engineers-in-Training in Alberta can expect a salary of about $66,000, but those working in the oil and gas industry may potentially earn 11% more than most engineers.

Geologist-in-Training (GIT)

Petroleum Geologists use information gathered from boreholes, geophysical and geochemical data, geological maps, rock samples and remote sensing imagery to decide where to drill for oil and gas, and help Engineers to optimize the extraction process. Most licensed Geologists spend the majority of their time in an office setting but may also work in the field at operation sites. However, as Geologists-in-Training, new grads are likely to spend a lot more time on-site to allow for greater exposure to the company’s operations.

Similar to EITs, GITs will rotate through various functions within a company’s operations and work alongside senior geoscience and other professionals. Hands-on-training and experience is the name of the game, with responsibility increasing as they work toward their professional geologist designation.

The minimum education requirement for Geologists is a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Geology. Ongoing professional development is required to keep up to date and Geologists may be required to pursue additional education to advance into more senior roles.

Note: Similar roles such as Geophysicist-, Geoscientist- and Geochemist-in-Training are also common in the oil and gas industry.

Base salary: Geologists-in-Training in Alberta earn about $69,000, with GITs in the petroleum industry also earning about 11% more than their peers in most other industries.

Junior Engineering Technologist

Engineering Technologists are a key part of the technical component of petroleum mining. Engineering Technologists are responsible for all stages of equipment design and implementation, including design, testing and operation. A technologist’s role also involves compiling and working with raw data, and they may also be required to assist with provincial regulatory compliance.

Junior Engineering Technologists typically provide technical support to, and are supervised by, their professional engineer counterparts in a particular discipline, such as chemical, electrical or mechanical engineering.

Engineering Technologists must have a two- or three-year college diploma in applied science or engineering, and additional certifications by provincial associations of the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists (CCTT) may be required, such as Certified Technologist (C.E.T.), Registered Engineering Technologist (R.E.T.), or Registered Professional Technologist – Engineering (R.P.T. (Eng)).

Base salary: Starting at $46,000 to $71,000

Field Services Technician

A Field Services Technician assists with setup, maintenance and deconstruction of various types of equipment used in  petroleum drilling operations. This role involves locating and identifying obstructions in wells and employing various measures to remove them, closing inactive wells and proactively recommending changes to well conditions to ensure safe and reliable output.

A role as a field services technician is a good option for anyone ready for demanding outdoor work in a variety of conditions. Prior technical training, such as a college diploma or applied degree, may be required.

Base salary: Starting at $39,000 to $55,000

Junior Machine Operator

A Machine Operator is responsible for ensuring that highly technologically advanced oil and gas equipment is operating both efficiently and safely. This job isn’t as simple as it sounds. Though this position does involve machine operation and monitoring (using various gauges and instruments), it also requires technical knowledge in order to perform basic adjustments and routine machine maintenance.

In order to work as a machine operator, you’ll need experience at the apprentice level and proven enrollment in a certificate program in machining at the post-secondary level.

Hourly wage: Starting at $17 to $25

Looking for a career in the oil and gas industry?
Visit TalentEgg’s Petroleum Career Guide or Oil & Gas Jobs section.


Sources: Base earnings from the 2010 Petroleum Services Association of Canada Compensation Survey and APEGA’s 2010 Value of Professional Services study