Houston & Opportunities Offshore
By Iris Galloway Posted 06-20-2019

Ever thought about work on an oil rig?


As of March 2019 there were 1,016 active rigs off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. Oil production from US federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico reached an all-time annual high of 1.65 million barrels per day in 2017.According to the Energy Information Administration, "Gulf of Mexico federal offshore oil production accounts for 17% of total U.S. crude oil production and federal offshore natural gas production in the Gulf accounts for 5% of total U.S. dry production."


That is a lot of rigs that need workers, and with employment as low as it is there aren't enough workers to go around. That makes candidates willing to learn the skills a valuable commodity.


But what kind of positions are available on an oil rig?

Roustabout - $24,000 - $36,000 per year

The most entry-level position on the rig is the roustabout. Roustabouts are responsible for cleaning tools, equipment, including drills, pumps, and machinery, and keeping their work areas clean and orderly. Roustabouts also use lifts to clear pipes and debris and to load and unload materials and equipment.

Roughneck - $60,000+ per year

After as little as six months as a roustabout you may advance to being a roughneck. The work is hard, with twelve hour days and sometimes even a full day of work on a project. Not everyone is suited to this kind of work, and as such it is often in high demand. A oil rig roughneck is to be proficient when performing integral tasks like adding new pipe-lengths as the drilling goes deeper and deeper, as well as maintaining and cleaning the drill equipment and working in the mudroom.

Oil Rig Pumper - $24 per hour

An oil rig pumper monitors the extraction of oil on a computer monitor to ensure the correct level of pressure, density and rate are maintained. Potential or actual pipe blockages need to be noticed quickly before equipment is damaged or broken. Pumpers are often required to adjust the pipe settings or injection equipment to ensure the correct levels are maintained safely.

A high school diploma and good communication skills are often all that is required for an entry-level oil rig pumper position.

Oil Derrikhand - $18 - $24 per hour

If you are afraid of heights the job of derrikhand is not for you. A derrikhand is responsible for the handling of drilling string in the uppermost section of the rig. This process is called "tripping" and requires frequent bits to be replaced or broken equipment to be retrieved from the hole. Derrikhands spend about a forth of their time on the "monkey board," a platform located up in the derrik of the rig.

Oil Driller - $18 - $28 per hour

Most oil rigs have two or three crews on rotation that consist of different positions and job requirements. The oil driller supervises these crews and is themselves supervised by the toolpusher or rig manager. Along with supervising the crew a driller also operates the drilling and hoisting equipment on the rig, manages the rig floor, and operates the driller's console with monitors, brakes, throttles, clutches, and a lot of guages.

An oil driller may be required to hold some company mandated certifications, and may through training and further certification grow into higher paying jobs over time.

Toolpusher/Rig Manager - $58,000 - $140,000+ per year

A toolpusher, often referred to only as pusher, serves as a drilling crew’s foreman at an oil rig or at any other extraction site. Given their supervisory role, the toolpusher holds responsibility for the drillers, but is tasked with performing mainly administrative procedures like ordering and maintaining the equipment and material base. The toolpusher will be responsible for the scheduling of crew member's shifts and rotations as well as ensuring that all health and safety regulations are being followed. The toolpusher is often responsibele for the hiring and firing of crew members as well, and managing emergencies on board.

A toolpusher is an experienced position, though not one that requires a lot of formal education. Toolpushers usually start as a crew member with only a high school diploma or minor degree, and work their way up the ranks.

Motorman - $20+ per hour

On a rig there is the safety of the crew - and a lot of money - riding on the engines. The position of motorman is responsible for the maintenance and fixing of the engines, as well as sometimes taking on other duties like training roustabouts and roughnecks and assisting other crew members as needed.

Mechanical knowledge is a must to a motorman, and many motormen are former roustabouts or roughnecks who had a knack for machinery and wanted got promoted. Most rigs require motormen to have first-aid experience.

Crane Operator - $61,000-$68,000 per year

Almost nothing goes on or comes off of a rig without the crane operator lifting it. Pipes, drilling fluid, food, safety equipment, and even personnel are picked up and placed on deck by the crane. The  delicate nature of some cargo, as well as the fact that all movement of loads must keep in mind the tight space and movement from waves and wind, means the crane operator must be very skilled at planning and very careful when working.

A crane operator usually begins their career as a roustabout. They can then complete the required on-board certification, move up to assistant crane operator and eventually operate the crane with an assistant of their own.

Oil Rig Mudlogger - $40,000-$60,000 per year

Also known as a logging geologist or a mudlogging technian, an oil rig mudlogger is responsible for determining hydrocarbon positions with respect do depth, identifying downhole lithology, monitoring natural gas entering the drilling mud stream and drawing well logs for the purposes of oil company geologists. A mudlogger will analyze rock samples brought to the surface of the mud at the drilling site. They then will organize the data into a graphic log to be given to the drilling team. This position requires precision and accuracy, as a mistake could cost the company millions in damage or loss.

Becoming a Mudlogger requires a college degree in a related subject (usually Geology) or equivalent experience, a strong knowledge of MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets) in order to safely deal with hazardous materials, and basic computer skills.

Offshore Oil Rig Electrician - $50,000 - $100,000 per year

Oil rig engines and motors have many complicated electrical systems that may need maintenance or repair. An offshore electrician may work on electrical distribution and transmission equipment as well as any on-board tools or equipment that has electrical issues.

Rig Electrician training is highly specialized and may be offered as a certification at a training institute or through a degree program.

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