Seismic Operator

NOC #85111, #84101, #73402

  • Environment Primarily outdoor work
  • Education Grade 10
  • Average salary $50,000 to $68,000

Career profile

Seismic operators determine the presence and the extent of oil, natural gas and other mineral deposits in a particular area using seismic equipment. They prepare, control and conduct seismic tests to find and record sound waves from energy sources under the Earth’s surface through four key phases: surveying, line clearing, seismic drilling and data acquisition and recording. Most seismic work occurs in remote locations.

In surveying, seismic operators create maps and design the routes where seismic studies will occur. Line clearing involves clearing trails through the bush using chainsaws. In seismic drilling, operators detonate charges in drilled holes to create seismic waves underground. Finally, through data acquisition and recording, these seismic waves are recorded to determine the characteristics of the underground rock structures.

The typical roles in this occupation include:

  • Chainers measure, map and find drilling locations.
  • GPS surveyors or rovers collect and process survey readings.
  • Utilities locators locate buried utilities.
  • Chainsaw buckers or fallers clear survey lines using global positioning system (GPS) technology.
  • Seismic drillers drill holes, placing explosive charges to detonate and create seismic waves underground.
  • Shooters or blasters prepare equipment and detonate the explosives.
  • Seismic observers digitally record seismic readings.
  • Field equipment coordinators coordinate the movement of vehicles and equipment.
  • Troubleshooters repair seismic equipment.
  • Vibrating equipment operators operate vibrating equipment that generates seismic waves.
Oil and gas services, Offshore

In this occupation activities may include:

  • Using specialized equipment to find, track and mark pipelines, cables and buried utilities
  • Using portable GPS receivers for navigating along seismic lines and marking lines and hazards
  • Creating chaining notes and sketches of the seismic line to determine where to put shot points (dynamite holes) to meet legal and safety requirements
  • Distributing equipment to its proper location
  • Operating a truck’s vibrating mechanism to create energy waves
  • Keeping continual logs during the drilling process


  • A high school diploma is preferred by employers but not necessary. Previous experience in entry-level roles is typically required. However, for some roles, secondary training in an engineering technology, electronics or mechanics is an asset for those required to troubleshoot and repair seismic equipment.


  • Standard and emergency first aid
  • Buried Facilities Locator (BFL) certification is required to operate as a Utilities Locator
  • Oilfield driver awarenss
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG)
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)
  • Chainsaw Proficiency – Level 1, 2 or 3


  • A valid driver’s licence and a clean driving record may be required, depending on the company and the role

Additional Requirements

  • Ability to pass pre-employment physical assessment and drug test
  • Travel likely required
  • Shiftwork/variable work hours
  • Primarily outdoor work
  • Physical work
  • Work away from home/in camps

You thrive in the outdoors.

  • Attention to detail
  • Selecting equipment
  • Monitoring operations
  • Repairing equipment
  • Mechanics
  • Public safety and security
  • Critical thinking
  • Maintaining equipment
  • Planning and organizing
  • Mathematics