Entry Senior

Snubbing Operator

About This Career

Snubbing Operators use snubbing equipment to insert drill pipe, tubing and specialized equipment into, or remove from, pressurized oil and gas wells.  These wells are closed using blowout preventers which contains well pressure.  This occupation is one of the most safety sensitive roles during drilling operations due to the potential for explosions and blow-outs. 

Snubbers are highly specialized; responsibilities progressively increase from that of an Assistant Operator through to Snubbing Supervisor, for example:

  • Assistant Snubbing Operators are primarily responsible for providing support with pre- and post-snubbing operations.  
  • Class 1 Snubbing Operators work in wells where the pressure is less than 10 mega pascal (MPA) and there is no presence of poisonous gas (10 MPA pressure is about the same pressure as water spray from a pressure washer). They work within a single zone of the wellbore.  
  • Class 2 and 3 Snubbing Operators work in progressively more complex medium and high pressure environments.  They may work in the presence of sweet or sour gases. 
  • Class 1 Supervisors are responsible for overseeing activities in a wellbore with pressures less than 21 MPA (21 MPA is equivalent to the ballistic pressure exerted as a bullet strikes a solid object).
  • Class 2 Supervisors are responsible for wells with pressure greater than 21 MPA.  

Education: There are no specific educational requirements; however, progressive experience is required to move up from Assistant Snubbing Operator to Supervisor. A high school diploma may be required at the supervisory level.

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

Example titles: Fishing Operator, Snubbing Services Operator

Work Activities
Applying Health and Safety Principles
Adhering to health and safety policies and procedures.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Isolating a specialized tool between blowout preventers to enable the tool to be used in the well (i.e., staging).
Guiding, Directing and Motivating Subordinates
Directing the pre- and post-job inspections and testing of the snubbing units, and ensuring that all pre- and post-job inspection forms are completed.
Handling and Moving Objects
Assembling and inserting production pipe into wells to enable well production (i.e. completing)
Attaching pumps and hoses to wellheads.
Quality Assurance
Ensuring that the maintenance and general upkeep of the snubbing units and related equipment are handled by the operators and assistants.
Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
Fitting and removing pressure-control equipment to the wellhead to enable specialized tools to be used in the well (i.e. lubricating).
Maintaining drilling rig diesel motors and transmissions.
Stress Tolerance
Public Safety and Security
Equipment Maintenance
Active Listening
Career Path
  • Operator
  • Other Services Operator
  • Rig Hand
  • Seismic crew
  • Supervisor
  • The following are examples of progressive or lateral career paths associated with this occupation:
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Working Conditions
  • Field 2
    Field Visits
  • Physical
    Mild Physical Activity
  • Steeringwheel
    Driving Required
  • Variable weather
    Inclement Weather
  • Road
    Remote Locations
  • Industrial excavator
    Active Machinery
  • Arrow
    Shift Work
  • Load
    Heavy Lifting
  • Standing
    Long Periods of Standing
  • Physical
    Physically Demanding
  • Heights
    Working from Heights
  • Longshifts
    Long Shifts
  • Overtime
    Some Overtime Required
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Careers also exist in the following industries:
  • Forestry and logging
  • Heavy and civil engineering construction
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  • Non-residential and residential building construction
  • Primary metal manufacturing
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  • Truck transportation
Job Details

Job Category



Oil and gas services


8232, 8412

Qualifications + Experience


  • High School Diploma (or equivalent)


  • Class 1 or 3 driver’s license