How much do you get paid to work on an oil rig?

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How much do you get paid to work on an oil rig?
Oil rig workers can earn competitive salaries even at entry-level. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Career progression, job security, flexible shifts and competitive salaries make oil rig jobs an attractive proposition. Careers are available from entry-level positions through to management and the offshore industry in Aberdeen is widely referred to as the oil capital of Europe. As with any other job, salaries are commensurate with experience. There are very few age restrictions and many roustabouts and stewards continue to work on oil rigs until they reach retirement age.

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Entry-level positions are ideal for those with little or no experience of working in an offshore environment. Roustabouts are usually hired from the age of 18 and upwards. Also referred to as roughnecks, a roustabout works in a small team completing unskilled manual labour jobs. Cleaning, painting, stacking drill-pipes and moving supplies are common features of roustabout work. Expect to work 12-hour shifts spending 2 weeks out of 4 on the rig. Employers provide accommodation and the Input Youth website claims that starting salaries in 2013 usually begin at approximately £18,000 per year.


The position of steward is another entry-level position but the role requires less arduous labour than the roustabout job. Stewards regularly help out in the oil rig kitchens, clean accommodation and wash laundry. The Cleddau website, reviewed in 2013, claims that stewards start out on a salary of approximately £20,000 per year. However, these positions often provide many opportunities for career development and higher wages. Catering assistants on oil rigs begin work on a similar salary.

Rig Welders

Applicants with an engineering background and qualifications can apply for the position of rig welder. Positions usually become available when new projects are undertaken and additional welders ensure those projects run to schedule. Arc welding experience is essential and the ability to work with gas metal or flux core systems is a definite advantage. Salaries are negotiable based on experience but Calvin Marketing estimate a typical annual salary of approximately £35,000 in comparison to the typical $60,000 per year paid on US oil rigs. Underwater welders can expect to receive a financial supplement for their work.

Contract Managers

Applicants with managerial experience in engineering can apply for the position of contract manager. A contract manager oversees projects on an oil rig and carries responsibility for staying within budget, hiring workers, completing projects to schedule and fulfilling health and safety requirements. Salaries vary based on bonuses and profit share incentives but a contract manager who meets targets can expect to earn in excess of £60,000 (according to the Oil and Gas Job Search website, which advertised a similar position in January 2013).

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