The New Engineers: Technicians And Technologists In The Petroleum Sector


There’s a lot of talk about the demand for engineers in the oil and gas industry, but there’s another group of workers that is just as coveted by employers: technicians and technologists.

According to the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET), “technicians and technologists usually work in a team with other professionals. They are usually involved with the application or adaptation of technology.”

Technicians usually work in a specialized practice area solving technical problems under direct supervision, while technologists may have a more comprehensive understanding of technology, be able to work independently and supervise and train other technical workers.

Working as a technician or technologist in petroleum sector offers a number of appealing advantages for students and recent graduates hoping to find an entry level or early-career position. Here’s why.

A variety of roles, workplaces

While petroleum technicians and technologists provide technical support by installing, operating and servicing equipment, the specific duties and work environments a technician can encounter are varied and numerous.

For example, while positions such as warehouse tech or chemical tech involve primarily office work, the former is responsible for planning and managing equipment and supply allocation, while the latter conducts laboratory work, research and analysis.

Working in remote locations or regularly relocating to work sites is also a requirement for certain positions, among them electrical techs, who maintain motors, generators and other equipment.

Geological, seismic and mineral techs face the prospect of outdoor work as they gather and interpret data about petroleum deposits and geological formations–as do marine techs, who work on both petroleum rig and ship equipment.


Similar to engineers, technicians and technologists should be certified by their provincial licensing body, usually a member of the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists (CCTT).

Certifications offered by the CCTT are not only recognized across Canada, but can also permit work in the United States or abroad. Your potential job market is enormous, which is perfect for those who like to travel. Find student and entry level oil and gas jobs.

Current technology students may be eligible to apply for free student memberships to their provincial association, so check out your association’s website for details.

These are some of the certifications available to technicians and technologists, according to ASET:

Technician/Technologist-in-Training (T.T.)

Technicians- or Technologists-in-Training have graduated from a technical program but have not yet gained the minimum two years’ of related work experience required for certification. You can only be a T.T. for up to four years, however.

Certified Technician (C.Tech.)

To become a C.Tech., you need to have a technician-level diploma from an accredited recognized college or institute of technology, at least two years of technical work experience, three professional references and successful completion of a professional practice exam. These professionals are sometimes also known as Applied Science Technicians.

Certified Engineering Technologist (C.E.T.)

A C.E.T. faces the same certification requirements as a C.Tech., only a technologist-level diploma is required. These professionals are sometimes also known as Applied Science Technologists (A.Sc.T.).

Professional Technologist (Engineering) [P.Tech.(Eng.)]

P.Tech.(Eng.) is the newest certification offered by ASET, created in 2009. Senior-level C.E.T.s can apply to become Professional Engineering Technologists after completing at least six years of relevant work experience, including management or supervisory experience. These technologists have the right to practice engineering independently, and can sign off and stamp their own work.

Opportunity and income

The oil and gas industry is slated to fill over 5,000 jobs between 2012 and 2015, which translates into a wealth of opportunity for individuals in many fields. Petroleum techs are no exception, with most fields experiencing above-average full-time employment and low unemployment rate.

According to the 2012 Salary Survey conducted by ASET, the average total annual income (including salary, overtime and bonuses) for a C.Tech. holder with 0-4 years of experience was $65,098, while those with 5-9 years of experience earned an average of $78,802 – right up there with engineers.

C.E.T.s with 0-4 years of experience earned an average of $77,023, and reached $88,284 in the 5-9 year range. Professional Technologists earned the most, starting at an average of $120,840.

Petroleum Week, in partnership with the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada