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Sheet Metal Worker

Sheet Metal Worker

Name: Caitlin Drake
Company: NEAL  (A partnership of North Eastern Constructors Limited (NECL) and Apply Leirvik)
Education: Sheet Metal Worker Certificate, College of the North Atlantic
Location: Onshore – Fabrication Facility
Hometown: Burin, NL
Currently Living In: Glovertown, NL


Caitlin Drake works as a sheet metal worker at the Bull Arm Fabrication Facility. In her job, she works with different types of metals, and fits and joins them together through cutting, riveting, and welding. Below Caitlin tells us what makes a person cut out for the job, and what she finds most riveting about working in oil and gas.

Education and Personal Background 

Second-year apprentice, Caitlin, is proud to be a sheet metal worker. She chose the career following the advice of her cousin, who was working in the trade.

“It seemed like an appropriate fit for me, since I’m very outgoing and love working with my hands,” she says.

Caitlin was able to receive her post-secondary training in her hometown at College of the North Atlantic’s Burin Campus. There she learned the essential skills of the trade, through a nine-month program.

“By the time we were finished, I felt prepared and eager to find work as an apprentice.”

Caitlin says that secondary courses in career development and skilled trades helped prepare her for college.

“Career Development helped me to learn about the opportunities and trends taking place in the oil and gas industry.  That helped me to make my decision with regard to what type of career to pursue. Also, our Skilled Trades training helped me to develop basic skills that have served me well in a practical sense as an apprentice.”

Since completing her post-secondary certification, Caitlin has also completed a number of special training programs required to work in her trade. These include first aid, fall arrest, scissor lift, and WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) training.

Duties and Work Environment 

Caitlin’s work day begins early in the morning with a half-hour commute from her apartment in Glovertown to the Bull Arm site.

“I wake at five a.m. We start each day with a safety meeting, and then head out on the job.”

Caitlin is working on the construction of an oil production installation called the Hebron gravity based structure (GBS).   Parts of the Hebron GBS are being built at a number of fabrication sites, including Bull Arm. Caitlin and her coworkers are installing HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems one component. She says the ability to read and interpret blueprints is one of the most essential skills for a sheet metal worker to make sure materials are prepared properly and installs go as planned.

“Some of the main skills I use daily relate to the ability to read and interpret blueprints. Beyond this, we certainly have to be able to think fast in finding solutions, especially when our larger HVAC units need to be placed in congested areas, or when our work schedules and spaces conflict with those of other trades.”

Questions and Answers

How have you enjoyed your first work experience in oil and gas? 

This has been a fantastic learning and career growth opportunity for me. I realize every day while working here that we are building something great. In working at the Bull Arm site, I’m obtaining valuable experience and logging many hours toward my next block of apprenticeship training.

What inspires you most at work? 

I’m inspired every day by the intelligent people I work with.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received? 

The best advice I’ve been given is to aim high and to prove myself to be just as capable as anyone else I work with.