Alberta is in the middle of another historic population boom and fingers squarely on the wealth generated by the province's energy sector are pointing at the reason why.

Statistics Canada numbers show that Alberta is currently growing faster than any other province and that it's seeing a population boom unparalleled since the historic boom of 1980.

The constant, and often repetitive, stories of Canadians leaving the Maritimes, Ontario, Manitoba or Quebec, seeking better fortunes out west have reached almost mythical proportions. Even more daring still are the stories of those who go for gold -- or, rather, black gold -- leaving behind families and careers to try their hands at some liquid fortune in the wilds of Alberta's north. They leave everything -- often times children await back home -- in the hopes that Alberta will provide enough to support them or, better yet, to bring them all out west.

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  • 21. Occupational Health and Safety Advisor and Officer

    a. Occupational health and safety advisors facilitate the development, implementation and maintenance of workplace safety programs. Occupational Health and Safety Officer b. Occupational health and safety officers visit places of employment to detect unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, and ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing workplace safety. According to the provincial government, on average, they make as much as $75,129 per year.

  • 20. Land Surveyor

    Land surveyors plan, direct and conduct legal surveys to determine and interpret the location of boundaries, buildings, structures and other natural or human-made features on, over or under the surface of the earth. According to the provincial government, on average, they make as much as $79,097 per year.

  • 19. Manufacturing Engineer

    Manufacturing engineers design, implement, direct and co-ordinate manufacturing system materials and processes to achieve the most efficient, cost effective and high quality production possible in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. Also Known As: Engineer, Logistics Manager, Professional Engineer On average, they start around $80,547 per year.

  • 18. Industrial Engineer

    Industrial engineers determine the most effective ways for an organization to use its basic resources: people, machines, materials, money and time. Also Known As: Engineer, Logistics Manager, Professional Engineer According to the government, they make an average of $80,547 per year.

  • 17. Power Engineer

    Power engineers supervise, operate and maintain machinery and boilers that provide steam, power, heat, refrigeration and other utility services to industrial and commercial facilities. On average, they make as much as $80,735 per year.

  • 16. Refinery and Upgrader Process Operator

    Refinery and upgrader process operators are responsible for the day to day operations of oil refineries and upgraders. Also Known As: Bitumen Extraction Plant Operator, Bitumen Upgrading Plant Operator, Oil Refinery Process Operator, Upgrader Process Operator On average, they can earn as much as $81,339 per year.

  • 15. Oil Pipeline Operators and Maintenance Workers

    Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers monitor and conduct the day to day operations of oil pipelines and associated facilities. Also Known As: Equipment Operator, Gauger, Tank Farm Operator. They can make, on average, as much as $81,339 per year.

  • 14. Oil Pipeline Control Centre Operator

    Oil pipeline control centre operators use sophisticated computerized equipment to monitor and control pipeline activities for large regions (for example, all of Alberta and British Columbia) from one centralized control centre. On average, they can make as much as $81,339 per year.

  • 13. Gas Plant Operator

    Gas plant operators control automated processes that convert raw natural gas into forms that can be used by consumers. On average, they can make as much as $81,339 per year.

  • 12. Gas Pipeline Operators and Maintenance Workers

    Gas pipeline operators and maintenance workers monitor the day to day operations of meter and compressor stations essential to the distribution and smooth flow of gas through pipelines. Also Known As: Control Room Operator, Gas Compressor Operator They can make on average $81,339 per year.

  • 11. Oil and Gas Production Accountant

    Oil and gas production accountants track and analyze production data, calculate revenue and royalties associated with properties owned by oil companies, and ensure reporting requirements are met. On average, they make as much as $81,135 per year.

  • 10. Field Production Operator

    Field production operators are responsible for the initial separation processes or the special treatment required to ensure that impurities such as water, gas and sediments are removed from oil and gas in the field. Once separated, the oil or gas is transported by pipeline to refineries, gas plants or markets. On average they make $81,622 per year.

  • 9. Chemical Engineer

    Chemical engineers conduct research; develop and optimize processes; design and select equipment; and provide technical and management services for plants that convert raw materials into a wide range of end products (for example, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food products, fuels, plastics, metals). Can make on average $103,425 per year.

  • 8. Petroleum Engineer

    Petroleum engineers are involved in the exploration and development of oil and gas. They apply the principles of geology, physics, chemistry and engineering sciences to the recovery of petroleum and natural gas from conventional reservoirs and oil sands. Average salary per year is $106,000.

  • 7. Hydrologist

    Hydrologists study the occurrence, distribution, circulation and properties of water in the atmosphere, on the Earth's surface, and in soil and underlying rocks. On average, they make as much as $110,747 per year. (Photo source <a href="www.flickr.comphotosfortgirl" target="_hplink">FortGirl </a>

  • 6. Geologist

    Geologists apply their knowledge of the Earth's crust in exploring for minerals and hydrocarbons (for example, oil and gas), developing resources for production, building engineering foundations and stable slopes, and finding and evaluating ground water supplies. They make an average of $110,747 per year.

  • 5. Exploration Geophysicist

    Geophysicists use the principles of physics, mathematics and geology to study the surface and internal composition of the earth. Exploration geophysicists look for oil, natural gas, water and minerals for commercial and environmental projects. On Average, they make as much as $110,747 per year.

  • 4. Geotechnical Engineer

    Geotechnical engineers assess the natural foundations for engineering projects that are supported by rock or soil. They plan and supervise geological data acquisition and analysis, and prepare engineering designs, reports and recommendations. On average, they make as much as $111,784 per year.

  • 3. Geomatics Engineer

    Geomatics engineers gather, model, analyze and manage spatially referenced data (information identified according to location). On average, they make as much as $164,400 per year

  • 2. Snubbing Services Operators and Supervisors

    Snubbing services operators and supervisors insert and remove drill pipe, tubing and specialized equipment into and from oil and gas wells when blowout preventers are closed to contain well pressure. Incomes for snubbing services operators and supervisors range from $60,000 a year to $180,000 a year (2009 estimate).

  • 1. Drilling and Service Rig Managers

    Oil and gas well drilling and service rig managers supervise large crews of specialized workers on drilling and service rigs. Drilling rig managers typically are paid a day rate. Depending on location and hours of service, service rig managers may be paid a day rate or an hourly rate. A drilling rig manager who works 200 days a year could realize potential earnings from $175,000 and $250,000 a year (2009 estimate). A service rig manager, who is not required to travel and work away from home in the same way a drilling rig manager is expected to, will earn somewhat less.

But is a job working on a rig or in an oilsands mine a good enough reason to make the move from as far away as Saint John, St. John's or Saint-Jean?

Yes, not everyone moving to Alberta has their sights set on a job as a snubbing services operator, a drilling rig floorhand or a wireline operator.

But well-paying jobs in the oil patch have their residue benefits. Having more disposable income translates to eating out more, buying homes, cars and shopping more often, all of which translate into more demand and opportunities for communities as a whole.

But for those taking the deepest plunge, it is the oil patch or bust. So, how well are rig leasehands, gas line operators and oil pipe line workers paid?

Like in any other field or industry, how much someone makes varies greatly from company to company, from city to city, how long someone's been on the job and whether some of the compensation may come in forms other than paycheques.

Many of those who work in the oil patch work from downtown office towers but many others are required to work in the field.

Thus, some jobs are compensated with travel and living allowances, or may have accommodations paid for. There is also the fact that many oil patch workers may only work seasonally, go from contract to contract or are required to freelance - all circumstances that make it hard to pin down what the average pay is in a given energy occupation.

But for those trying to make a life-changing decision, the province has made it a bit easier by compiling and publishing average wages for most of the occupations in the Alberta oil patch. Salaries are reported as recorded. However, some have been calculated using an hourly rate and a 35-hour work week.

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