Job Facts for Roustabout Jobs

If you are interested in getting an entry-level job working on an oil rig, you might consider the following facts for working roustabout jobs. One of the reasons roustabout jobs pay so well is because the work is so physically demanding. In fact, many people choose not to work in this field when they find out how hard the job really is. Basically a roustabout is the most entry-level position on an oil rig and a roustabout is expected to do the work that nobody else wants to do. So one day you may be painting an oil rig while the next day you may be mopping the floor.

Job Duties

Even though this job calls for either unskilled or semiskilled manual labor, this position is important to any oil rig's operation. Sometimes roustabouts are brought in temporarily to fill short-term needs. Other times, they are part of a crew that works long hours in difficult conditions, including in very hot or cold temperatures and all types of weather like high winds, heavy rains and blowing snow.

Although they might not express it in words, oil rig managers appreciate the fact that roustabout take care of menial tasks like cleaning, rust removal, maintenance and painting as well a great deal of other miscellaneous tasks. By being able assign this type of lower level work to roustabouts, managers can use the rest of their trained crew to get oil out of the ground efficiently and safely.


Roustabout positions seem to be growing in popularity because they generally pay well and do not require a great deal of education. In fact, on average, roustabouts earn about $50,000 a year. Plus, given the fact that many people are looking for work in today's economy, the numerous opportunities to be employed as a roustabout are attracting more and more workers to this particular profession.

Hours/Typical Shift

Most oil rigs operate with 3 or 4 crews working either eight or twelve hour shifts, and it's common to have two roustabouts assigned to each crew. During any given shift, a roustabout might have to move equipment around the rig, clean the deck and keep it free from safety hazards, assemble and/or repair machinery, put together derricks, dig ditches or post holes, pour concrete, put up fencing, connect pipes, rig and sling loads to prepare them to be moved by the rig's crane, scrape rust from the rig and paint. Basically you will be doing all the grunt work, leaving your fellow workers free to concentrate on more skilled tasks.


Other terms for this type of job include roughneck, leasehand, or floorhand, but no matter what terminology is used, roustabouts provide valuable services to oil rigs. And if you are a dependable worker who shows up to the job on time and does a good job, you can request to be trained in some of the other more skilled tasks on the oil rig. Getting this training will allow you to gain knowledge and experience that will help you one day to advance from the position of a lowly roustabout to one with more prestige, responsibilities and pay.