Get A Good Job Working On An Offshore Oil Drilling Rig

Get a Good Job Working On An Offshore Oil Drilling Rig

The offshore oil and gas industry is booming right now as energy companies are required to drill in deeper and deeper waters to keep up with worldwide demand. High salaries can make up for the time spent away from home and there are more positions available than typical “roughneck” jobs.


1. First learn about the industry as a whole. It is cyclical and hiring for oil and gas jobs is sporadic. Even as the economy recovers the offshore oil and gas business continues to grow as companies such as Noble and Transocean drill in deeper and deeper waters around the globe to meet growing demands for oil and natural gas. Hiring has slacked off a bit but some offshore drilling companies are still advertising.

Find your niche in the industry. There are many layers of companies and individual skills that come together on a single rig. In many cases the rig is owned by one company and is under contract to a large company such as Chevron-Texaco or medium sized oil companies such as Chesapeake that has hired it. The rig in turn, contracts everything from boats to cooking and laundry services to keep it going, while the oil company has to hire service companies such as Halliburton or Schlumberger to perform such services as pumping cement in the well, sending probes down hole to analyze rock formations for oil and gas, etc. Determine what jobs suit you and prepare a well written resume.

2. Prepare your family for the change an oilfield job will bring. It cannot be stated enough that a person needs to be either single or have a stable home life before taking a job in the drilling industry that can potentially keep them away from home sixty days or more in extreme cases. Typically an oilfield worker that is working for the rig itself can expect to work a rotation of one to two or more weeks “on” and a week or more “off” on most jobs. On the rig shifts are typically in 8 to 12 hour “tours” pronounced strangely enough “towers”. Service companies may or may not remain on the rig for the duration of the well. A mud – logger, who collects and analyzes the cuttings that come up from the drill bit, may remain on the rig for the duration of the well, while a wire line operator for a company like Schlumberger, (pronounced slum ber jay) may be called to the well at specific points during the drilling to inspect rock layers for oil and gas after they have been drilled.

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3. Consider offshore oil rig jobs as well. If you are mechanically or technically inclined and don’t mind hard work and travel there are numerous employment positions offshore. Persons with engineering or science degrees may find it easier to start out higher on the salary scale for a service company such as Halliburton but even if you only have a skill such as automotive maintenance there are jobs on the rig that a person could get without prior experience. Usually a person working on the rig crew (without any prior oil field experience) will have to start out at the bottom of the scale as a roustabout. A roustabout does whatever odd jobs around the rig he is directed to by the “tool pusher” or rig boss or by the driller or other higher ranking crew member. He may be asked to paint, sandblast, carry bags of drilling mud, all the lowest jobs. Any new crew member with no experience starts out as a “worm”. Don’t be offended, everyone on the rig was once a worm themselves.

4. Be prepared to eat humble pie for several months. From “worm” the crew member can work his way up the ladder, even to the top job of tool pusher with many more years of experience. The tool pusher, or rig boss, has usually held every position on a rig crew at least once in his life. For a mechanically inclined person the job of motorman is to keep all the motors and equipment maintained and running.

Prospective oilfield workers need to read up on the industry and get a feel for where they may belong. boods such as ” A Primer of Oil Well Drilling” are a good start. While rig crews, rougnecks, are still mostly a men’s only club, there are exceptions. Today there are a few women employed working for service companies such as Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Weatherford and Schlumberger. Try and find the area where your skills will match the position. If you are a technical geek who also doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty then there are technical jobs keeping up rig electronics and operation well logging and mud logging equipment.

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Sites such as have job postings. Entry level jobs that can get you in the door with minimal skills are jobs such as mud logger trainee, sample catcher, roustabout, galley hand, etc. Jobs for those with chemistry experience are those such as the mud engineer for a company such as Newpark Drilling Fluids. He is responsible for making large batches of drilling fluid in tanks, formulating it for the needs of the hole depth, etc, using chemistry skills and equipment. Almost any job working on an offshore oil drilling rig, from rig electronic technician to mud engineer will require manual labor and heavy lifting.

5. Prepare to relocate upon getting hired. At first you will probably need to move to where there is a hub of offshore activity, and a concentration of drilling companies, such as the Louisiana, Mississippi or Texas Coast. Companies are usually not willing to pay service hands to fly to home but rougnecks and drillers working directly for the rig, as they work up the career ladder and become more valuable, may be able to claim transportation to a home that is somewhere far inland. It is different for Service hands employed by companies that provide essential services to rigs such as well logging, they are usually “on call” 24-7 and will need to have a travel bag ready and be able to be at the dock or heliport with very short notice. There are American oilfield workers working in every corner of the globe and job postings on in countries from Russia and India to Brazil. A rig overseas may have workers from a couple dozen countries onboard. Experienced workers who have worked their way up the ladder may enjoy thirty days off for working thirty days, effectively making salaries of $150,000 or more for half a years work. Avoid oilfield employment agencies. There are many ripoffs out there and you will end up giving a large chunk of your pay for several months to them. Cold calling on service and drilling companies works and so does sending tons of resumes that indicate you are willing to do whatever it takes, travel, working from the bottom up, etc to become a valuable employee. This is not an industry for lazy people so if you are looking for a cushy job where you can put you feet on a desk, this is not it.

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For more oilfield employment resources and job postings see the sites in the resource section below.