College And University Programs For The Most In-Demand Oil And Gas Careers


Deciding what post-secondary program to apply to can be a daunting task, but what is often even more overwhelming for many young graduates is figuring out how to start a career after completing a very general degree or diploma program.

One way to avoid that experience altogether is to enter a post-secondary program with a specific industry in mind.

Here we’ll explore university degree, college diploma and trades programs that will prepare you to start a career directly in the oil and gas industry – currently a hotbed for a number of different jobs and career paths.

Diploma programs

Colleges across Canada prepare students to be different types of technologists and technicians, who are very in-demand in the oil and gas industry right now. These technical experts build, maintain and repair much of the equipment and machinery in use at petroleum operations in Canada and around the world.

Many schools partner with industry to provide state-of-the-art facilities and hands-on industry experience through internships, co-ops and apprenticeships. For example, the Chemical Production & Power Engineering Technology program at Lambton College in Sarnia, Ont., is the only program of its kind in Ontario and also provides students with co-op placements throughout the program. The college also offers an accelerated version of the program for university graduates. Learn more about petroleum-related programs at Lambton College.

More programs:

  • The two-year Petroleum Energy Technology diploma program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton provides “up-to-date knowledge of petroleum geology, well drilling techniques, reservoir engineering, oil and gas production optimization, project development and management, and environmental protection and safety.” The program has a grad employment rate of 94%, with most grads starting their careers as Production Technologists with oil and gas employers, and the median starting salary is $64,000!
  • The Heavy Oil Operations Technician program at Lakeland College in Lloydminster, Sask., offers students work placements at a power plant, battery/well site and heavy oil recovery plant, with most grads going on to be Field Operators or getting certified as Power Engineers.
  • Northern College of the Atlantic’s three-year accredited Petroleum Engineering Technology Co-op program in St. John’s, Nfld., provides courses in drilling, production, facilities, reservoir and geology, as well as at least 12 weeks of work experience.

Degree programs


Students with an interest in the business side of oil and gas may consider the University of Calgary’s Bachelor of Commerce with a concentration in Petroleum Land Management – the only such concentration in Canada and one of only six in the world! This competitive third-year stream has an admissions process that includes submitting a resume, letter of intent, letters of reference and grades, plus an interview.

Courses focus on topics such as legal agreements, oil and gas exploration strategy and analysis, and management of energy regulations. Graduates often go on to be Landmen and Lease Negotiators.

Engineering and geology

Although students with engineering and geology degrees are already in demand by oil and gas employers, programs like Mineral Resource Engineering (Dalhousie University),  Oil and Gas Engineering (University of Calgary), Petroleum Engineering (University of Alberta and University of Calgary), Petroleum Systems Engineering (University of Regina) and Processing Engineering (Memorial University) offer specialized petroleum training that give graduates a competitive edge.

Students curious about the Earth and how it was formed may wish to investigate the University of Calgary’s Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Geology specialization, which will let you explore how oil and gas deposits are formed and change over time.

With the Canadian workforce in need of educated and highly skilled workers well into the next decade, graduates who have explicit knowledge and training in the petroleum industry before graduation have an advantage over their peers when applying to positions within the industry.

Petroleum Week

Visit the Petroleum Career Guide to learn more about careers in the oil and gas industry, and find student and entry-level jobs from top petroleum employers.


Photo credit: Piceance Basin Natural Gas Operations: Location Tour by EnergyTomorrow on Flickr