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Although most known as an economic boost for Western Canada, the oil and gas industry isn't only limited to the oil sands in Alberta. Eastern Canada, particularly the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, are rich in exploration and in job opportunities.

According to a recent article published on, the offshore industry directly employs close to 6,000 people, (more indirectly employed), and hundreds of supply and service companies are also involved in the multibillion-dollar, east coast industry.

Offshore opportunities

Much like the on-land drilling opportunities in Western Canada, Atlantic Canada also has an oil and gas drilling industry of their own located offshore. The goal of working in offshore rigs can be described in simple terms: using seismic and geological research, oil companies drill to see if there is oil or gas located beneath the ocean floor's surface. The job, however, is anything but easy.

Offshore oil and gas engineers get the brunt of the most challenging conditions. Rough waters and unpredictable subsea terrain are just two of the obstacles offshore workers face day-to-day. In addition to the obvious technical skills required, enthusiasm and stamina are major components to the success of offshore employees.

According to the Careers in Oil and Gas website, produced by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada, offshore oil and gas engineers may specialize in fields like drilling, robotics, marine corrosion, and subsea processes, just to name a few. With backgrounds in a gamut of engineering branches and, at minimum, an undergraduate college or university degree, a license is also required for offshore oil and gas workers to work and practice.

Safety first

Now that you've checked all the boxes to determine you're a match for the industry, it's important to be reminded of two simple words we've all heard dating back to our adventurous childhood years: safety first. The oil and gas industry is committed to protecting its workers and is regulated by the federal and provincial governments, regardless of whether you're stationed in Calgary or off Newfoundland's shores.

Safety training is a requirement in Atlantic Canada's oil and gas industry offshore. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) states that basic survival training, hydrogen sulphide awareness, WHMIS training, and regulatory awareness training are mandatory prior to starting a job offshore.

Emergencies can happen at any time. According to CAPP, all employees and offshore workers are trained to be familiar with emergency response procedures, and also designate teams that focus on fast rescue, fire, first aid, medical evacuation, and survival.

Travel is also a critical player in subsea exploration. The industry is pushing to continue to strengthen helicopter safety by introducing a search and rescue hangar in St. John's to accommodate emergencies, by improving the design of helicopter fleets, and by changing operating procedures.

And if you're wondering about compensation, entry-level positions are impressive, starting around $50,000 annually, with specialized positions paying as much as $220,000 per year. So aim high in the deep; you could find the career you've been looking for.

Photo: curraheeshutter/Thinkstock