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Not every job is a walk in the park. (And I'm not speaking metaphorically, here.)
You may be hard-pressed to find many careers with an emphasis on hiking and adventure, but setting your feet in motion can be as simple as joining a seismic line crew.
You'll have to pay for a flight to the middle of nowhere in Western Canada, but the crew you'll be working for takes care of the rest. (Seriously, they'll give you a free place to stay and $40 per day for food. Need you ask more?) The job's main challenges include flying to site via helicopter, scaling cliffs, trudging through swamps and summiting mountains'all while supporting several pounds of cables, wires, and equipment. As demanding as it may sound, geophysicist Joe Havlik says the money is great and the experience is even greater.
But it's hard work, says Havlik. I would equate it to tree planting ÔÇª where you're out in the field and really hoofing it. You need to be somewhat athletic or at least somewhat fit in order to not suffer. But you're hiking around all day long; you're on your feet for 12 hours a day.
Line crew workers spend a typical day laying out and retrieving seismic recording equipment, called geophones, for the purposes of both 2D and 3D land seismic data acquisition. As many as 50 crew members walk up to 20 kilometres per day laying out or picking up the 90-pound cables. Most work is done during the winter months, so the job is well-suited for high school graduates who want to save money for post-secondary.
There are crews that probably run in areas over the summer, but there's a lot of farming communities out here, so you can't get summer access, says Havlik. Northern Alberta is sort of boggy. The ground is soft and you can't take equipment out there, so you have to wait until [the ground] freezes up. So it's not dirty, but it's snowy and cold.
Sound intimidating? For some, it's a chance to explore Canada and its culture beyond the confines of large, urban centres. Featured in a video by Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada, senior observer Travis Giles discusses the ways in which a young worker can advance and benefit from taking on a position as line crew helper:
Most people can go from line crew, and they can be line boss within a week'a month at the most. After that, you'll be advancing up to troubleshooter. They're the ones who go out there and fix all the stations. And after troubleshooting you'll be shooter, which I think is actually the most fun job out here. It's where you get to go ride the skidoos and blow up dynamite ÔÇª After that you get into the senior roles; coordinator, observer, [and] safety management.
According to Havlik, there are no minimum educational requirements to become a line crew helper; however, completion of Grade 12 is highly encouraged. Additionally, the job does not discriminate against gender. Although it is male-dominated labour, Havlik generally sees about one female per ten males whenever he visits the field. So whether you're stuck between careers or hoping to earn good money that you'll actually save, joining a seismic line crew might just be the adventure you've been waiting for.
Wage: Approx $2,800ÔÇô$5,900/month.
Hours: 12ÔÇô14 hours per day, 21ÔÇô28 days on, 4ÔÇô7 days off.