Entry Senior

Seismic Operator

Photo courtesy of the Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors (CAGC)

About This Career

Seismic Operators determine the presence and the extent of oil and gas deposits in a particular area using seismic equipment. They do so 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.

Education: 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.

Employment: This occupation works in both onshore and offshore environments and is employed by the oil and gas services sectors of the oil and gas industry.

Example titles: Surveyor, Buried Facilities Locator, Chainsaw Operator, Seismic Driller, Seismic Equipment Operator

Work Activities
Controlling Machines and Processes
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.
Ensuring tree falls are done safely.
Ensuring the safety procedures for handling, storing, detonating and moving explosives are followed.
Using a radio controlled blasting device to detonate the dynamite in drilled holes.
Documenting/Recording Information
Keeping continual logs during the drilling process.
Creating chaining notes and sketches of the seismic line to determines where to put shot points (dynamite holes) to meet legal and safety requirements.
Surveying and mapping utilities.
Getting Information
Performing daily and monthly instrument testing to ensure the equipment is functioning according to specified tolerances.
Ensuring the quality of survey data.
Handling and Moving Objects
Distributing equipment to its proper location.
Organizing and transporting shooting equipment.
Handling and positioning trucks or units that may be used in place of explosives to collect seismic information.
Operating a truck’s vibrating mechanism to create energy waves.
Monitor Processes, Materials or Surroundings
Monitoring equipment during testing and ensuring safety precautions are followed.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices or Equipment
Operating chainsaws to de-limb and cut-up trees and undergrowth.
Operating the seismic drilling rig.
Drilling holes on flagged shot points and supervising the loading of dynamite charges.
Performing General Physical Activities
Working in heavily treed or steep terrain areas.
Cleaning up debris created from line cutting operations.
Processing Information
Collecting and processing field survey data using GPS equipment.
Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment
Reviewing and repairing specialized seismic recording equipment such as geophones.
Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
Maintaining surveying equipment such as chainsaws and GPS units.
Attention to Detail
Public Safety and Security
Operation and Control
Operation Monitoring
Computer use
Career Path
  • Drilling Rig Labourer
  • Movement between specializations on the seismic crew
  • Service Rig Labourer
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Working Conditions
  • Field 2
    Field Visits
  • Steeringwheel
    Driving Required
  • Variable weather
    Inclement Weather
  • Road
    Remote Locations
  • Arrow
    Shift Work
  • Physical
    Physically Demanding
  • Longshifts
    Long Shifts
  • Hazardous
    Hazardous Conditions
  • Overtime
    Some Overtime Required
Similar Jobs In Other Industries
Careers also exist in the following industries:
  • Forestry and logging
  • Heavy and civil engineering construction
  • Mining and quarrying
  • Non-residential and residential building construction
  • Utilities, including renewable energy
Job Details

Job Category



Oil and gas services


8615, 7372, 8412

Qualifications + Experience


  • Grade 10


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


  • 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 a pre-employment physical assessment and drug test