With oil and gas production surging over the past few years, it’s no surprise this job ranked as our No. 1 career. According to the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, there are currently about 1,200 rig managers across Canada, and demand is skyrocketing. Rig supervisors typically oversee two to three crews (of four to six people), which operate oil drilling rigs around the clock.
How to qualify: Formal education isn’t critical—experience is. Supervisors typically work their way through the various drilling crew jobs, beginning as “roughnecks” and progressing up to drilling operator. Various safety certificates and some management training may also be required, and some may also obtain a petroleum engineering technology degree.
Money: Rig managers generally earn a day rate of about $1,000, which can drive annual income up to the $175,000 to $250,000 range in Alberta, where supervisors average 180 days in the field.
Opportunity: Oil and gas production levels vary. While most forecasts project steady growth for 2013, some observers note that the picture is muddied by the high dollar, low crude prices, booming U.S. natural gas production and ongoing uncertainty around major pipeline projects. Despite that, the Alberta government projects 2.6% average annual growth in this profession until 2016.
What it’s like: Rig manager Wayne Brown, 52, describes the job as intense. “As a rig manager, I have to guide and look after both crews, night and day,” Brown says. “We’re usually on location for 80 to 90 days. I work two weeks in and have one week home.”
The satisfying challenges come from dealing with complications like broken motors, he says. “Every day is different.”