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Canada’s Best Jobs 2014: Primary Production Manager

The highest-paying on the list

primary production manager

A worker directs an excavator at an ArcelorMittal mining complex in Fermont, Quebec, in this file photo (Géraldine Woessner/AFP/Getty)

Median Salary: $110,240
Change in salary (2007–2013): +28%
Total employees: 10,000

Primary production managers are at forefront of Canada’s resource economy, running production facilities like oil wells, mines and fisheries. They’re responsible for every aspect of a facility, from safety to quality control to making sure they hit production targets. Tasked with operating extremely complicated equipment and leading dozens, if not hundreds, of front-line resource workers, primary production managers have to simultaneously be technical wizards and effective administrators.

How to qualify: In order to run a production facility like an oil well or a mine, you’ll have to have experience on both the technical and operations side. Most production managers start off with an engineering degree, or forest sciences in the case of forestry, and gain experience at a number of levels before they’re ready to run an operation.

Opportunity: The prospects for primary production managers varies depending on which industry they’re working in. Oil and gas continues to boom, as does mining. Forestry is lagging slightly, although the resurgent U.S. economy is sure to increase demand. Opportunities in commercial fishing remain largely stagnant.

Money: Production managers working in oil, gas or mining can expect six-figure salary, sometimes as high as $200,000 a year. Salaries, especially in oil and gas and mining, are very high, topping off around $200,000 annually. Jobs in forestry aren’t quite as lucrative, but workers can still expect to make upwards of $80,000.

What It’s Like: Cory Sidebottom, who works at Shell Canada, says that the position isn’t for the faint of heart. “It’s an extremely challenging job. You start at 7 a.m. and I’m lucky if I’m home by 6 or 7. You’re on call on weekends, evenings—and you will get lots of calls—but I really enjoy it. With around 100 people working under him, he says the most rewarding parts of his job are leading a team. “You need to spend time talking to people, seeing how things are going, ensuring that their day is going well. That’s what I find most enjoyable.”

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