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  #1  
Old 09-27-2010, 06:29 PM
outdoorcat outdoorcat is offline
 
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Default Power Engineering Questions

Hey guys.

So I'm new to this forum. Been researching Power Engineering as a career choice for a while.

I'm just wondering if anyone here has any information on the career? There is a lot of physical/manual labour on the job right? And there is class 5 being the lowest and class 1 being the highest.

Those who are currently in the career, how do you like it? Also, is there demand for power engineers in edmonton or calgary?

Any additional information would be helpful too. Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 09-27-2010, 07:22 PM
CR5 CR5 is offline
 
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Had my 3rd class since 1997, operating can be really busy, dirty and phisically intensive or it can be really boring and lazy, just depends where you get a job.
I am a control room operator in FtMac and I find it boring and would like to change career's but I can't think of anything that pays this well that I won't have to go back to school for.

There is way too much competition in Calgary and Edmonton to expect to get a job there without a minimum of a third class and a second would be much better. This is a who you know industry and it can help alot with getting one of the good jobs.
The hours are hard on family and marriages since you will most likely be working 12 hour shifts days and nights including weekends. Most people start in small towns away from family and friends which makes things even harder on the wife or girlfriend.
I find that too many people get into this field for the wrong reasons. It pays well but you are expected to be a jack of all trades and have a certain amount of trouble shooting skills and ability to understand process and correct things. Nothing bothers me more than having to train some snotty jerkoff straight outta school that thinks he knows everything because he got an 80% in prime movers class but he can't even change the oil on his own car.

As a side note. Most injuries seem to be during the first 3 years out of school. So if you do get into it listen to those that have been there a few years, they might just save your life.

Good luck.
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by CR5 View Post
I find that too many people get into this field for the wrong reasons. It pays well but you are expected to be a jack of all trades and have a certain amount of trouble shooting skills and ability to understand process and correct things. Nothing bothers me more than having to train some snotty jerkoff straight outta school that thinks he knows everything because he got an 80% in prime movers class but he can't even change the oil on his own car.
Good luck.
Couldn't of said it better my self.

Power Engineering is a great career to get into but its not for everybody. I am a second class that has been working in the oilsands for around ten years now and love it but like CR5 says it can be dirty and labour intensive at times. It can also have alot of A#S time to it as well.

If you have good troubleshooting skills, jack of all trades, don't mind working shift or away from home than power engineering may be a good choice.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:22 PM
chris007can chris007can is offline
 
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Default Power Eng.

the other two guy's are bang on with what you need, the only thing I would add is go to Nait or Sait and take the two year program. This way when you do your practicum you will really find out if this job is for you. We had one guy drop out after he tried shift work. Also you better be able to get along with guy's you don't really know for long periods of time, because you will spend more time with them than you will your own family.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:45 PM
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I have my 2nd class ticket and have worked south of Calgry for about 6 years

If you search on the forum under power engineering there has been alot of posts on it over the last few months that will help in your decison.

You are right in the order of the tickets although most people start off with a 4th class ticket with any sort of power engineering schooling. You do not have to write a 5th class ticket.

Your best bet for getting into the career is taking the 2 year power engineering course at SAIT, NAIT or Med Hat.

The physical labor part depends on what field you get into. Some require lots of work others require very little.

As far as jobs around Calgary or Edmonton, they are not hard to get, it just depends on how hard you look. I was hired right out of school at a plant south of Calgary as well as numorus other people. Although the odds of getting one with just a 4th are pretty slim in the higher paying plants.

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  #6  
Old 09-28-2010, 07:32 AM
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One of the biggest problems if you get into a contro room tyoe job where you are monitoring a process is fighting the bordom. If everything is smooth then there is not alot that you have to do.
Also if you measure your self worth by the job you do then this is not for you as it is not very full filling as you never see what it is that you did all day.
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Old 09-28-2010, 08:20 AM
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I agree with everything everyone has posted so far and highly recomend taking the 2 year course at NAIT or SAIT. It can be quite difficult for alot of people to get steam time for their forth and third, with the two year courses you get all the steam time you need. As well there any many needs for power engineers like others have posted so you can choose a path that will work for you. I work at a chemical plant close to town so i'm home everyday unlike some of my friends who work up north. As some examples i know people who operate the power plant at the hospital, one who runs the steam system on an ocean liner and one of my buddies used to work for Kokanee in their brewery. As you can see it all depends on which way you wanna go and the pay varies widely as well.
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Old 09-28-2010, 08:55 AM
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Great info all and thankyou for sharing. I have too been looking at this. I have tried to do my research everywhere I can, and all say good money, but that is a different amount for each. Coming out of school with a 4th what would be bottom salary and what would be a high salary. And so on 3rd, 2nd class? Shoot a pm if you do not want to put it on a public forum. i am very Mechanical and a very good trouble shooter, been working out of town away from my family all my life. This would even be better as there would bw more time home than I currently have. Again thank you all for sharing your experiences. Dennis
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  #9  
Old 09-29-2010, 02:58 AM
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Here is some more info from my experience. I have been in industry since 1973, pulp, gas and heavy oil. It has been 12 hour shifts since 1978 and that is good and bad. Our shift shedule is always the same unless you get moved from one shift to another. Our shift shedule was made in a yearly shedule so you new when you worked at what time all year. The 12 hour shift is good for more time off, bad for a long day and you do not see family and friends much after work. Your lifestyle is different because you cannot do everything that 5 day week people do. Usually you work 2 weekends a month so you cut social time with everyone out on working weekends. You may work Xmas for a few years in a row and have it off for a few years in a row. You work long weekends, some built in overtime, and lots of birthdays and celebrations are missed due to the shiftwork. Some companies expect lots of overtime, good money but after awhile you get tired of it. When my kids were young the shift was good because when I was home I spent time with them, when I was at work they had there times with friends and it worked out good. I found now the 7 days on 7 days off is the best shift for me. The other persons comment on control room operating, yes it is dam boring because I was in a control room for 10 plus years and you just accept it or you do something else, you also put on weight unless you are a workout person. You do not have to be a power engineer to work shift work, but I do believe it pays good money. Work for some company that pays double time overtime and has a good benifit package. The pay for a Second Class in 2005 was about $40 per hour, which came in at $90,000.00 a year without overtime. I usually averaged about 200 hours a year at doubletime so that was a nice extra. I retired in 2005 with a decent pension and got bored in 4 months so now I am now a contract operator and I do ok. That is how I describe the lifestyle. I was fortunate to marry a beautiful lady and she accepted a lot of the raising of kids when I was not there. That means somebody had to be sports mom and taxi lots off time. We just had our 32 year together so something worked for us. Now I have grandchildren and they get spoiled. Good luck in your what you decide to do and hope I did not rant on to much.
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Old 09-29-2010, 09:40 PM
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The job satisfaction part bothers me. Are all power engineers in general bitter with their chosen profession?

Also, the tasks progressively change as you get more papers, right? Like from 3rd, 2nd, to 1st?

Thanks a lot for the responses guys.
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Old 09-29-2010, 09:52 PM
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Good buddy is a 2nd class. Works.... Well let's say near wabamun. Wife no kids so he works alot of hours by choice but he also makes $150k + a year so there are ups and downs. His job isn't really physical more like what homer Simpson does but he will be comfortably retired by 45-50
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:22 PM
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Agree with a lot of the above posts. As you are in this profession longer think of it as you get paid for what you know and not for what you do. I was a second class in 2005 (and still am) and I was not making over $30.00/hr at the time in the oilfield. Benefits, pension plans, stock plans, bonuses, shift diff., steam ticket premiums. etc all account for a lot of money so do not just look at base wages. As well as the company I now work for pays double time for OT. First year I was at the job I had 1 shift of OT. Previous job paid 1.5 for OT and I got 5hrs every pay plus 2-300 hrs a year, that was a big chunk of change missed. If you can work by yourself, troubleshoot problems and think logically at times, and don't mind math/trig./physics you should do alright.
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:28 PM
BallCoeff.435 BallCoeff.435 is offline
 
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Like any shift work, the main thing is to avoid the 12-hour switchover as much as possible. That's the killer.

It takes approx a week to get acclimatized to a new schedule - anybody who hasn't done shift work, maybe they can remember how long jet lag lasted when on vacation or business travel. Or, how long it took to recover from a couple of 'all-nighter' study sessions at school.

If you go from a string of days to nights right away, or vice versa, you might just get up to peak efficiency by the time a new shift string ends. On a drilling rig, going 'short change' to nights cuts your attentiveness and efficiency by a third even for a young guy. But if there's lots of activity happening like tripping out or fixing a big problem you don't notice it much.

I could only image how brutal that might be though, trying to stay awake sitting in front of an HMI console at 3 am on your first tour of nights back-to-back after days. But, if you could go for a month of nights, have a month of long change, then work for a month of days, that would be a lot better. Even better still would be two sets of 7 days-on, 7 off, then two sets of 7 nights-on, 7 off. So, you only get hit with one change-over a month.

Personally, I'd even take extra night shifts if somebody didn't want them, just to 'bridge' over or avoid an extra changeover to days. Especially in urban areas, because things are so much quieter and easy to drive to after rush hour is finished. Depending on the time of year though, in order to avoid deer strikes out in the country, you might need a whole bunch of HID lights installed on your vehicle

The drive home on Sunday morning after a night shift is amazingly peaceful, and quick. Being the first guy into the supermarket when it opens in the morning means you get the best vegetables and stuff before it gets picked over. Lots of advantages to night shift.
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:35 PM
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Cool Guys, nice to have the input. I work very physical now and the body after 20 plus years is burning out. I dont want to do it just for money but would love to have more worry free, free time. when you own a business you are married to it. It sucks as the years go by, I would love to just go home and not worry about anything other than what project I get to work on next. I would like to make a decent wage though, I work 14 hour days 7 days a week for months straight now, so If I am there bring on the OT.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by outdoorcat View Post
Hey guys.

So I'm new to this forum. Been researching Power Engineering as a career choice for a while.

I'm just wondering if anyone here has any information on the career? who are currently in the career, how do you like it? Also, is there demand for power engineers in edmonton or calgary?
how strong is your math, algebra, volume caculations, scalers vectars etc??
I got a 4th and a couple of jmans tix as well.
I would consider the 5th or 4th to like the entrance exam to the 3rd.
Id say also that the 2nd class would be equivelent to being the 'journeyman' of the industry. In my line the P/e is paid considrably less than the tradesman and are closer to a labourer with an education.
there is always a demand for P/E's.as the marketplace seems to want more education and pay the same. and thats why my boy i getting welding ticket and teeing off to get his fourth asap.
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:53 PM
outdoorcat outdoorcat is offline
 
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how strong is your math, algebra, volume caculations, scalers vectars etc??
I got a 4th and a couple of jmans tix as well.
I would consider the 5th or 4th to like the entrance exam to the 3rd.
Id say also that the 2nd class would be equivelent to being the 'journeyman' of the industry. In my line the P/e is paid considrably less than the tradesman and are closer to a labourer with an education.
there is always a demand for P/E's.as the marketplace seems to want more education and pay the same. and thats why my boy i getting welding ticket and teeing off to get his fourth asap.
giver
considering the fact that i've taken university calculus, i'd say my math is just fine.

To be honest, I'm almost done my university degree. I just see more potential in the trades, especially this one.

The fact that as the profession progresses leads to less manual labour definitely is attractive.

Ultimately, I'd like to find out if the career would suit me or not. Honestly, having a homer simpson-type job making six figures sounds pretty sweet imo. Having any kind of office-related job is pretty boring for most people.

My opinion is: you guys got it really good, and I think some of you may not realize just how good you have it. Most professions never break the six figure mark, and with many other professions, people aren't compensated for overtime.

Viewing the job in the grand scheme of things, I see it as offering a valuable service to the public. You go to work to get paid, then spend your time off work doing the things you love to do.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:05 PM
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In my line the P/e is paid considrably less than the tradesman and are closer to a labourer with an education.
there is always a demand for P/E's.
Don't know where you work but this is not the usually the case up north.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:30 PM
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If you decide to do it, first, think about what the guys were saying about mechanical aptitude. I've been doing this for 11 years now, and it is critical. You may not need to be a mechanic, but you need to clearly understand how machines and proccess work. You need to be able to problem solve very quickly. Not, "I think it's this," and then try to prove yourself right. Collect data, know the proccess and make corrective decisions quickly. If boredom is a fear, get into a new project. There is a reason that most operators I know don't stick around a plant for more than ten years. They get bored. I have been stuck in the control room for 3 years, and I want out. Having said that, I am rarely bored. I am at a plant which has new technology in the oilsands and it is anything but boring. Sometimes it's too much. I crave a smooth darn plant! And don't think you can go from NAIT to 2 years in the field and be in the control room. It usually doesn't work that way. The biggest thing with this job is don't stop studying. There is always more to learn.

#1 advice I got from my teacher. Show up! Don't blow shifts. Your mate is counting on you. Show up 15 minutes early every single day. Never miss days. Too many young guys I work with have a tough time getting less than 10 sick days a year. Show up. I swear that's more than half the battle right there.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by outdoorcat View Post

Ultimately, I'd like to find out if the career would suit me or not. Honestly, having a homer simpson-type job making six figures sounds pretty sweet imo.

My opinion is: you guys got it really good, and I think some of you may not realize just how good you have it. Most professions never break the six figure mark, and with many other professions, people aren't compensated for overtime.
It's not that everyone is bitter about the job, we are just telling you the pros and cons. It's defintily not a heres your report complete it, good job on that report.

Here is an example of my last 4 night shifts. First 3 had maybe a dozen alarms come in in a 12 hour shift, most very minor / nuisence, basically did nothing for 11 hours. Don't get me wrong i'm not complaining, just it does get fairly old after a while. The fourth night shift. The pump seal went in a boiler feed water pump during the day so we are running on the back up which was waiting to be repaired, hopefully it makes it through the night. 10 pm very high vibration alarms, pump seal blows, shaft breaks between turbine and pump, plant is shutdown and flaring gas within 5 mins. 165 alarms come in in 5 mins, have a phone on each ear (1 is the steam chief the other the plant forman), and 2 plant operators asking for what to do next. Plant has been down for a week and is down for another.

This is a perfect example of a previous post of "we get paid for what we know, not what we do" I got paid for doing nothing the first 3 nights but it was all being able to apply what i know in the 4th night and get the plant shutdown safely, and flaring as little gas as possible.


Another way of looking at the job is, really does any one really want to go to work every day, and it's the best thing they do all week. Prob not, sure I have to work some weekends and nights, but I get half the month of and get paid mid 6 figures to do it. Couldn't imagine woring downtown Calgary 5 days a week for $70,000 a year and fight traffic 2 times a day. I can't think of anything that i could practically do, for the same money and time off, so that in turn makes me enjoy the career!

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Old 09-30-2010, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by rookiemoosehunter View Post
Don't know where you work but this is not the usually the case up north.
X2, I think on average a power engineer makes more per year then most tradesmen. Hourly wage maybe the same, but when you factor in OT, Shift differantial, Steam bounus, 9 times out of 10 a power engineer will make more money then the trades guys at the plant.

The trades guys still do very well though!

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Old 09-30-2010, 08:46 PM
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Cool Guys, nice to have the input. I work very physical now and the body after 20 plus years is burning out. I dont want to do it just for money but would love to have more worry free, free time. when you own a business you are married to it. It sucks as the years go by, I would love to just go home and not worry about anything other than what project I get to work on next. I would like to make a decent wage though, I work 14 hour days 7 days a week for months straight now, so If I am there bring on the OT.
You will love this job! I'm sorry. I didn't realize you are older. I worked in the real world for 15 years before going to school. Power engineering has been very good to me. You will literally feel like you are cloud nine with what the company does and has. You will shake your head at what guys are bitching about. You work a block, and get an equal block off work. It's awesome! I'm off all the time. I could seriously start a roofing company on the side. If you work OT in the oilsands, you can crack 200K! Whoop!
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Old 10-01-2010, 10:10 AM
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ok thanks a lot for providing me on some insight on the profession.

From the research I've done, 2nd-1st class engineers are typically management related, and 1st class is usually M-F every week.

As a 1st class engineer, typically is this still a control room gig? Also, in this profession, your always wearing the blue coveralls/steel toed safety boots right?

Again thanks a lot for the responses.
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Old 10-01-2010, 05:08 PM
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Regarding the blues and steel toe boots, I have seen power engineers take roles as safety specialists, maintenance coordinators, process specialists, managers, and some other ones I cant think of at the moment. Usually you need a 2nd or a 3rd to get ahead position wise. Lots of chances to see all aspects of the PE world.
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Old 10-01-2010, 06:43 PM
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ok thanks a lot for providing me on some insight on the profession.

From the research I've done, 2nd-1st class engineers are typically management related, and 1st class is usually M-F every week.

As a 1st class engineer, typically is this still a control room gig? Also, in this profession, your always wearing the blue coveralls/steel toed safety boots right?

Again thanks a lot for the responses.
No most if not all 1st Class guys are not regular operators,will not work shift work and do not wear the coveralls......
They are usually chief engineers for a plant,depending on steam capacity,power output etc(under ABSA regs) every plant requires a certain ticket to operate.Big enough and a 1st Class is needed.Technically anything process related is his responsibity.....it's his ticket on the line if something ever happens.
A 2nd Class guy is usually a supervisor or panel operator.
3rds are panel/field operators usually.
Most places won't look at you without a 3rd.
Panel operators get to wear street clothes but anybody in the field areas usually wears safety boots etc....
Every place/company is different but I've worked in four different plants and these were generally the way things were.
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Old 10-01-2010, 07:33 PM
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Hey madhatter, I hear Methanex Medicine Hat is starting back up. That is by far the best company I have ever worked for. They treat their employees like gold. I worked for them in Kitimat.
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Old 10-01-2010, 10:33 PM
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You Guys have all been great!!! I am going for it, My wife fully supports the change and I am sure I wll enjoy the new challenges that are coming my way. All your info has been great to read and I look forward to meeting a few of you possibly in the years to come.
Dennis
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Old 10-06-2010, 03:00 PM
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sorry to update a semi-old thread but...how does one go about finding a job in this field...especially with 0 experience in the field?

Is there any specific job-related websites? What are they?
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Old 10-06-2010, 03:53 PM
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sorry to update a semi-old thread but...how does one go about finding a job in this field...especially with 0 experience in the field?

Is there any specific job-related websites? What are they?
this is the dificult part. If you dont go to school where you can get your firing time as a co-op student, it can be dificult to do it after you finish correspondence. I do know people that just bit the bullet and were able to work for free at a hospital to get the firing time. If you have a fourth, there are always entry level positions. You just have to look. You may need to be willing to move or commute.
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Old 10-06-2010, 04:34 PM
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methanex in medicine hat is aiming to be operational by april 2011. any current power engineers looking for a change would likely get snapped up quick. i am a PE, but i walked away from it years ago. i loived the shift work, but hated the boredom of sitting around. for anyone looking at the course, medicine hat college offers it same as NAIT and SAIT, and if you dont live in calgary or edmonton, it is a little cheaper to live in med hat while you are learning.
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:02 PM
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Hey madhatter, I hear Methanex Medicine Hat is starting back up. That is by far the best company I have ever worked for. They treat their employees like gold. I worked for them in Kitimat.
Yes Methanex is supposed to be starting up again,moving dirt and the lights are on......I work at CF just north of them.
Been down south for a bit but I believe there was a job posting in the MH News.
It will be interesting to see what they will offering people,it's gonna have to be pretty good.....and a guarranty for 3-5 years or they won't get anybody.
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