Types of Oil Rig Jobs

Written by b.t. alo
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Types of Oil Rig Jobs
There are many types of jobs on an oil rig. (oil rig at sunset image by Alan James from Fotolia.com)

Oil rigs operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, usually with three or four crews that operate the rig in shifts. Some oil rigs run on eight-hour shifts, others on 12-hour shifts. There are many different jobs to be done on an oil rig, including technical drilling, management, mechanical maintenance, security as well as cleaning and catering for the crew.

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Drill Crew

The drill crew usually is made up of five positions. "Roughnecks" work on the floor of the rig and in the mud room, operating machinery and maintaining equipment as necessary. Derrickmen are responsible for running mudroom equipment, including mud pumps and holding pits. Derrickmen are assisted by a pumpman, and both positions undertake roughneck duties as required. The assistant driller supervises the roughneck, pumpman and derrickman, and assists the driller, who is in charge of the drilling operation and who runs the equipment. The driller has a high level of responsibility and expertise. University education is not required, but technical training and experience is for drillers and drillers assistants. As of May 2010, roughnecks could expect to earn about £38,350 annually; pumpmen £39,325; derrickmen £42,250; assistant drillers £47,125 and drillers £55,900.

Deck Crews

The deck crews consist of five positions. Maintenance roustabouts perform general maintenance duties such as cleaning and painting the rig deck; as of May 2010 they could expect to earn about £30,550 annually in this entry-level job. The maintenance foreman is responsible for overseeing the work of the maintenance roustabouts and earns about £38,350. General roustabouts, distinct from maintenance roustabouts, help guide the deck crane and also help roughnecks on the rig floor when needed; they earn about £35,100. Assistant crane operators are typically experienced roustabouts who have the qualifications to operate cranes, earning £38,350. The crane operator has the main task on deck of operating the crane and of supervising the deck crew. The crane operator earns about £45,175.


Since a large number of the world's gas and oil reserves are offshore in unstable regions such as the Middle East, Africa and South America, security is a concern aboard oil rigs. Most security guards aboard oil rigs are employees of specialised firms and many are ex-servicemen with significant expertise in security issues. Technology plays a large part in oil rig security, including the use of radar sensors to detect incoming vessels. While the mean annual wage for a conventional security guard in 2009 was £17,179, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, security personnel in the energy sector had a mean annual wage of £41,996.

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