What To Expect From A Job On An Oil Rig

Written by Chloe Harwood

Have you ever thought about what life would be like working on an oil rig? It’s a steady job, with plenty of opportunities, and there are no real qualifications required. As long as you are fit and healthy and are prepared to stay away from home for long periods of time, then it could be an ideal fit. Here’s what you can expect…

The work

A typical job on an oil rig would be working as a roustabout, roughneck, derrickman or a driller. Roustabouts and roughnecks are the lowest ‘ranked’ jobs on the rig. They will engage in a lot of the manual work that needs doing, much like a laborer on a construction site.

A derrickman handles the drilling pipes, operates machinery and positions the drills. It’s a manual job, and very hands on. You will need to be strong – and to have a head for heights.

A driller is a more skilled role and involves a number of technical tasks. You could be using oil and gas software, controlling the drills while it is above and beneath the sea, and you will also need to keep records. Obviously, there are a lot of health and safety issues on an oil rig, and while you are working you will be responsible for your team.

Entry requirements

As we have already mentioned, there are no academic requirements needed for an oil rig job. However, you should have some basic high school passes in place if you want to stand out. Most jobs are offered to those with previous experience, so if you can get any at all, you will be at an advantage.


Oil rig work is pretty full on. You will usually work twelve-hour shifts, and then have twelve hours off. This will happen for two or three weeks at a time, with no days off. However, you will enjoy having a lot of time off when you come back on shore – up to two or three weeks. You will usually work around six months of every year.


There are all kinds of oil rigs, each of a different size. And, you will probably find yourself working on all types. Some will be huge, with anything up to a hundred workers on there, while others will only have twenty or so. You may also work on ships.

You will need to be okay with working in all kinds of conditions, and it can be a dangerous job. Wind and rain will play a significant part in your life while you’re at sea, make no mistake about it! However, you might have an opportunity to see a bit of the world while you are earning good money.


As the industry seeks new sources of oil, there is always work available. And, with more jobs than people, it is currently lucrative. Even a roustabout – the lowest skilled job on the rig – can pull in more than $20 per hour. As you progress through the ranks, you could earn anything from $60,000 upwards – and then move into management.

Think you have what it takes to work on an oil rig? Let us know your thoughts!

About the author

Chloe Harwood