September 8, 2016 0 Comments Experience Working in Alberta's Oilfield

September- Going back to school

Last month as I’ve mentioned, I lost my previous job- though within my 3-week paid vacation period, I found another- 5 hours northwest in Edmonton. The next day, I packed my bags and drove my way up north for my next trucking gig.

Then I got accepted into both the full-time Power Engineering program at NAIT as well as the 2nd year electrician one. I made a difficult decision- for the first time, I voluntarily left work paying about $500+/day to go to school again (electrician) for a few weeks to 2 months. The boss was nice about it and understood I had things to do.

Earning power is diminished in times of a down economy, so it’s the time to invest in human and financial capital- education and assets at depressed prices. Then when the economy is good again, maximize the work ethic to maximize profits. The work I was on was also on a on-call basis, so stability was questionable.

During my job search, I felt the pain of the economy a bit more than previously.

The first call I got back wanted me to haul crude oil for $400/load (which though was $8000/month, translated to only about $22.50/hour). The supervisor kept saying he had to talk to his manager, so I suspect they were comparing multiple applicants.

The second I thought I did well, as I had almost the identical job for a couple years, but they actually decided to pick someone else, and take their sweet time collecting resumes and interviewing and screening each applicant.

The third was my current employer. The fourth, the lady could tell I had not been trucking that long (<3 years) and was very anal about perfect (in their eyes) driving habits. So, that did not work out, though I was not terribly concerned as I wanted time to myself for school.

For these jobs, when the economy was good, they would only call you if they wanted to give you a job, and would not waste their time comparing applicants. But now things are shifting towards an employer’s market and they can choose.

As for school, the 2-year timeframe to complete both 3rd and 4th Class Power Engineering in that program was too long to be financially sustainable at my current state- not to mention it would throw aside all my investing plans (stocks, 2 more properties). Each year I do not work, I would lose $75-100K of income, in addition to the tuition costs. The 4th class is completable part-time, but 3rd class steam time has to be acquired at an employer on your own. The advantage of the sit-down diploma program is it includes work terms to acquire steam time. In essence, you lose up to $150-200K of income for a better chance at getting your 3rd class steam time.

My current strategy is to complete the 2nd year electrician schooling as fast as possible to minimize the monetary bleed. It is estimated daily losses are $67, excluding tuition and books. I will continue to look for work in hopes for an in-town gig that will ease finances and provide some stability, and with luck find something even better for later. This will slow education process and lengthen the time until I return to the oilfield, but is less risky. If I finish school too fast and there is no work after, then that is not a good result either. Here is where a bit of luck would work in my favour.

After my school, then I will return to the oilfield as I search for work for my apprenticeship. I used to want to stay in trucking to make faster and more money first, but with the questionable economy, this is too risky of a gamble. Get ahead little to nothing and then it will just be in vain.

The Porsche and 2nd property objectives stay, though with Porsche having a lower priority. It is hard to find a steady $500+/day income as I previously had to maintain it. Since I do not have my previous salary job, now I have to rely on the Notice of Assessment method for mortgage approval purposes, where the income calculated is (2015 income + 2016 income)/2. My 2015 income was lower, so 2016 income has to be very high to heighten the average. $86,332 + EI cheques was my previous salary required to successfully acquire my current property, so in order to obtain this average, 2016 income has to be around $100K. Being in school will take away vital time to hit this number, but with a busy enough October – December, there is still hope.

However, my emotional stability is questionable lately. Seeing all the students makes me sad and lonely, as I’ve spent my youth alone getting ahead of all of them and for personal development. Many people came in and went away in a very short amount of time. Finding a girlfriend is out of the question, as few would actually date someone who works away from home without wanting him for money.

The financial stress of watching dwindling finances while I sit and not work is not healthy. Sometimes my face breaks out with spots as a result; I am stressed about performing well enough in studies, yet fast enough to make my hard earned money last. Just like in the past, I am bitterly defending my investing money, as I may not see it ever again. It is not difficult to survive, but difficult to advance, as most people do not ever advance. Last time everyday I felt I was bitterly fighting to defend my home downpayment; again I am facing this, but for my second home.