Stationary Engineer's interview with James
While he was working a summer job to secure funds to continue with his education for his Petroleum Engineering Technology diploma James found himself working in the steam and utilities department of a mining operation in the NWT. During his summer job he learned many things about Stationary Engineering and thought that Stationary Engineering was a very versatile ticket with many things one could choose to do.
James figured one would have a slim chance of ever being out of work for too long during an economic down tern because having a versatile Stationary Engineering ticket is like having a ticket as a jack-of-all-trades. He was already half ways through his 2 year diploma program so there was no point in turning back on it at the time and so continued along and finished off his petroleum ticket.
After receiving his petroleum diploma in 1984 he got a job in the upstream part of the oil and gas business. Here he once again came into contact with Stationary Engineer. A few of the field operators he worked with had their Stationary Engineer tickets and all the plant operators had their Stationary Engineer tickets. All the while he saw what they did on the job and how well they were paid compared to his job. He also noticed, being so specialized as he was, how it limited his job scope and he didn’t like the pay he was getting compared to the Stationary Engineers either.
In addition to the job scope, the pay, the benefits, the variety of things the Stationary Engineers did, James was enticed by the Stationary Engineers in the variety of plant projects, participating in facility improvements and system upgrades, how their education explained all the mysteries of modern day technology to them, (Like self-sufficient power generation, process optimization and remote field monitoring.) the shift work the 2 weeks at work and 2 weeks off and modern camp facilities as a big advantage over what he was doing as a Petroleum Engineering Technologist. This prompted him to make his way into becoming a Stationary Engineer in 1987.
He got a job in the plant at the site where he was working. He took his Stationary Engineer training from correspondence courses to get his certification.
James likes to travel. He has been to many places in North America from the Arctic Circle to Mexico and has been to Australia too. He has done lots of hiking, camping and canoeing as well as outdoor photography. He has canoed the Mac Kenzie River (In Canada’s North West Territories), which is a 300 Km blast as well as hiked the Canol Trail three times through the Mac Kenzie Mountains. The Canol Trail is a portion of a oil pipeline that was to have been built from Norman Wells NWT through to White Horse in the Yukon during the second World War.
James is into investing and has taken up the art of technical investing. He has done well financially purchasing a house and paying it off in just 5 years. James is one of these guys that will probably have enough money to retire on before he is even eligible to receive retirement benefits from his employer’s pension plan, unless of course he gets married.
James also has enough time off because of the shift work to visit his family members around the country. If it wasn’t for the income and the shift work James realizes much of what he has enjoyed up till now may not been have possible.
James’ advice and cautions:
For anyone who is unsure of what direction to take for a career, Stationary Engineer is a great launching pad. The level of commitment up front for education, time and money is a fraction of what it is in order to get involved in a profession. Stationary Engineering is a good introductory career step to access and have exposure to many trades, technologies and professions. It’s a window on the world of career directions both inside and outside of Stationary Engineering.
The Oil & Gas business that James is employed in is cyclical in nature, as it is in many resource based industries. As such there are times when people get laid off. There are many jobs that require you to work out in the boonies, away from the conveniences and amenities of the big cities and large urban areas. Other jobs may even be fly in / fly out for weeks or months at a time. Some folks like that, most others don’t.
Another part of the reality can be transfers to other locations when a resource or business dries up in one part of the country. It isn’t the norm but it does happen.
The work site can sometimes be a construction site due to new projects being developed.
The times when one learns the most are during points of high activity like plant shut downs, construction, the introduction of new equipment or process changes or, during plant upsets.
Shift work can conflict with family life and your social life depending what you have going on. It’s all a matter of how you live and organize your life. The holiday seasons like Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a problem. Most crews alternate between working some holidays one year and not the next. You will probably be working every other weekend. There are always tradeoffs. Always strive to make them work to your best advantage. Shift work is more advantageous than the 9 to 5 scenario if you play your cards right. If you’ve got your act together, you’ll come out on top feeling and looking better than some one who works just weekdays.
James and I both agree that most folks are a little envious of how good we have it.
updates & more photos of James and the HUGE EQUIPMENT
he works with!
Copyright 1990 to 2003 David C. Perry
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