The average salary of offshore drilling workers

Updated March 23, 2017

The days when an adventuresome and hard-working person could simply head west to find his fortune are long gone. In the modern era, those strenuous jobs are found offshore: Oil drillers and other workers on offshore oil rigs may bring home relatively sizeable earnings to compensate them for the inconvenience and physical demands of offshore work.

Offshore Drill Operators

Although urban legends claim that offshore drill operators' wages start at £39,000 annually, offshore drill operators' salary is more in line with compensation on land. As of 2008, the average offshore drill operator's salary is £28,600 per year, with rotary drill operators earning an average hourly wage of £12.60 according to Employment Spot. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook lists all drill operator wages in the gas and oil industry averaging £14.30 as of May 2008.

Offshore Roughnecks

Roughnecks are entry-level drilling assistants who help drill operators run the machinery. Their average earnings are between £21,450 and £26,000 per year, according to Employment Spot.

Offshore Roustabouts

Roustabouts are general labourers on oil offshore oil rigs who tend to duties that aren't directly in drilling operations, though necessary to the drill, such as maintenance and day-to-day labour. They also earn between £21,450 and £26,000 per year, according to Employment Spot.

Overtime Earnings

Because offshore oil rig operators frequently work in remote locations, many work 10-hour shifts and frequently operate under a schedule where they work 14 consecutive days, then receive three weeks' off time. This schedule leads offshore drill operators to work far more than 40 hours a week, allowing them access to large amounts of overtime earnings that lifts their take-home pay higher than many other workers in the same wage range.

Vacation Time

Another compensation for offshore drill operators is the large amount of time off provided by the schedule. While workers are expected to devote much of their time toward drill operations while on an offshore rig, a drill operator who receives three weeks of rest for each two-week stint receives more than 30 weeks of vacation through the course of the year.

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About the Author

Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.