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Rig Technician

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The location where your NAIT courses will be held.


The educational branch of NAIT that offers this program. Each school is uniquely equipped with facilities, equipment, and curriculum designed to benefit the needs of their students.


The type of certification (degree, diploma, certificate) you will earn after completing your program.

  • Degree - NAIT offers a number of business degrees and applied science and technology degrees accredited by Alberta Advanced Education.
    Applied degree programs offer a stronger emphasis on practical applications of the concepts learned in the classroom
  • Diplomas & Certificates - These credit programs take 1 or 2 years and lead to government approved and industry-recognized credentials.
  • Journeyman Certificate - Hands-on and expert-led apprenticeship and industry training for skilled trades and technology professionals.
  • Continuing Education/Non-Credit - NAIT offers a wide range of non-credit programs and courses for personal and professional development in a number of interesting and exciting fields. These options are great for people who may be working but are interested in studying as well.

Delivery Options

The flexible schedule options for this course including time of day and full/part-time.

  • Day - Courses taking place between Monday - Friday, before 5 PM.
  • Evening/Weekend - Courses taking place on weekdays from 5 PM or later, or Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Online - Sometimes called "Home Study" or "Computer-Based Learning"
  • Blended - A combination of online and in-class components.
  • Distance - Traditional correspondence format. These courses work best if you can't get to a campus or if your schedule can't accommodate fixed class times


Apprenticeship is a method of gaining the expertise needed to become a skilled tradesperson. This is done through a combination of on-the-job experience and classroom training.

Most apprenticeship programs are 3-4 periods in length, with an average of 8 weeks for each training period. In addition, there are specific allotments of on-the-job training hours associated with each period, so most apprentices complete 1 period per calendar year.

You want to be a rig technician. You want to work on oil and gas drilling rigs performing a variety of tasks, such as maintaining drilling rig engines, transmission, heating systems and other mechanical equipment, or monitoring inventories of fuels, oil filters, lube oils and other service items.

But you need to learn more and progress through the 3 levels of rig technician, which includes Rig Technician 1 (motorhand), Rig Technician 2 (derrickhand) and Rig Technician 3 (driller). You want more responsibility and to take on a leadership role. To do this, you’ll need to learn everything about a derrick, draw-works and surface equipment that provides the forces needed to bore a hole into the earth.

At NAIT, where we’ve been training rig technician apprentices since 2006, we’re here to teach you everything you need to know.

  • power systems
  • tools and equipment
  • rig operations
  • derrick equipment
  • drilling fluids and operations

Hands-on, industry-relevant training 

If you like working with equipment and machinery in a team environment and can maintain meticulous records, then you’ll enjoy working as a rig technician.

Rig technicians often work outdoors in remote locations and variable weather conditions. Employment in the oil and gas industry may be seasonal, and employees are often responsible for their own transportation to work sites across the province.

Rig technician apprentices progress through 3 levels of training, spending at least a year in each position.

Training at NAIT

The Rig Technician apprenticeship term is:

  • 3 years (three 12-month periods)
  • minimum of 1500 hours on-the-job training each year
  • 4 weeks of technical training each year

Enter the workforce with confidence 

As a rig technician, you will be employed by drilling contractors who own and operate oil and gas well drilling rigs. Work schedules vary with industry demand, but typically rig technicians work for 2 weeks, followed by 1 week off.

Experienced rig technicians may be promoted to rig managers or be hired by specialist companies to become mud technicians or directional drillers. You can also explore drilling-related equipment sales, rig training provider, rig supervision, and other career paths in the oil and gas industry.

Note: Red Seal certification is only available for Rig Technician 3 (driller) apprentices. See more about the 3 levels of rig technician training.


Have questions? We've got answers

For more information about the Rig Technician program at NAIT

Email: rigtechnician@nait.ca
Phone: 780.471.7872
Fax: 780.471.7877



View periods for this program

Tuition & Fees

Get an estimate on cost to attend

How to Apply

Information on admissions process

Scholarships & Awards

Funding for students in this program

Apprenticeship is a method of gaining the expertise needed to become a skilled tradesperson. This is done through a combination of on-the-job experience and classroom training. Once your training has been completed, you will be able to write provincial examinations set by the Government of Alberta to become a certified journeyperson. 

There is no journeyperson certification for Rig Technician 1 and 2. Apprentices can apply for a Rig Technician 1 (motorhand) credential after completing the first period of the program and can apply for a Rig Technician 2 (derrickhand) credential after completing the second period.

The journeyperson credential is available only after completing the third period (driller) of the program.

Period 1 (motorhand)

The first period of technical training is 4 weeks in length. Apprentices learn how to:

  • maintain drilling rig engines, transmissions, heating systems, diesel electric generators and motors, hydraulic systems and other mechanical equipment
  • participate in rig-up and tear-out
  • monitor fuel, oil filters, lube oils, greases and other service items inventory
  • supervise, train and work with floorhands and labourers to ensure they work safely and efficiently

Period 2 (derrickhand)

The second period of technical training is 4 weeks in length. Apprentices learn how to:

  • operate and maintain drilling fluid systems and pumps during drilling
  • mix fluid chemicals and additives
  • handle sections of drill string assembly from a platform on the rig derrick during tripping operations
  • monitor and record mud flows and volumes and fluid properties
  • participate in rig-up and tear-out

Period 3 (driller)

The third period of technical training is 4 weeks in length. Apprentices learn how to:

  • operate the draw-works, rotary equipment and pumps

  • supervise the assembly of drill string
  • ensure safety and support equipment is functioning properly
  • monitor the progress of the drilling operation
  • communicate with well-site supervisors
  • keep a current record of drilling progress
  • train crew members
  • introduce safe and effective crew work procedures

participate in supervising rig-up and tear-out

Period 1 (motorhand)

  • Tuition: $392.00
  • Books & Supplies: $213.00
  • NAITSA & Materials Fee: $101.88
  • Athletic Fee: $18.80

Period 2 (derrickhand)

  • Tuition: $392.00
  • Books & Supplies: $161.00
  • NAITSA & Materials Fee: $101.88
  • Athletic Fee: $18.80

Period 3 (driller)

  • Tuition: $392.00
  • Books & Supplies: $162.00
  • Optional Text: Driller's Handbook $260.00
  • NAITSA & Materials Fee: $101.88
  • Athletic Fee: $18.80

Complete an apprenticeship application & contract form

Effective November 1, 2014, you must fillout the application located on the MyTradesecrets website for Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board staff to determine if you are eligible for status as an indentured apprentice.

Dates & Deadlines

Once you are an indentured apprentice, you can review the availability and start and end dates of the program you are interested in. Log into your MyTradesecrets profile and do a search under the Class Registration section. Then you can determine the schedule that best fits your needs.

We recommend submitting your program application at least 90 days before the application deadline.

Apply to Program

Apply to the program with step-by-step instructions on how to complete the application process. Please note, processing time may vary for applicants, so we recommend starting early.

Apply nowHow to apply checklist

Scholarships & Awards

NAIT supports over 4,000 students with over $6 million in scholarships and bursaries each year. Many are available for students across a wide range of programs.

Explore our available Scholarships and Bursaries

Red Seal

The Interprovincial Red Seal Program was developed to provide journeypersons with the ability to work anywhere in Canada.

Learn more

Blue Seal

If you are a certified Blue Seal journeyperson in Alberta, you've proven that you meet Alberta's high industry standards and possess the skills to succeed in your trade.

Learn more

Explore your options

There are many different ways to experience a NAIT education, from full-time diploma programs and apprenticeships to part-time degrees. Let us help you choose what's right for you.

Apply for Apprenticeship and Industry Training

Begin the application process through MyTradesecrets.

Apply Now How to Apply