Positions and Hierarchy ? Careers on an Oil Rig

The Oil and Gas industry is popular and everybody can read the news on the latest prices of the oil barrels or the latest refining technologies. What you can't read though is what are the demands on oil rig you on a daily basis. In case you are hunting for a job on oil rig, than you should know that working on an oil rig will definitely test your physical strength and your team spirit. In return, the payment is good and the facilities assured by the employing companies are excellent.

The job seekers of oil and gas positions usually know that most of the available positions in the oil rigs are in the production sector. This sector involves the drilling activities and the extraction of the petroleum from the reservoirs. Those companies can operate both onshore and offshore, and the chances to find a job on the Californian coast or Saudi Arabia are equal for the interested ones. Interestingly, the number of people who want to work on oil rigs is not enough to complete he demands.

If you want to be a part of a team of professionals, here are your choices within the oil rig hierarchy:

  1. Rig Manager
  2. Driller
  3. Derrick hand
  4. Motor hand
  5. Roughneck
  6. Roustabout
  1. The beginning of your career on the oil rig will start with entry-level positions such as Roughnecks and Roustabouts. The terms are similar as job description and refer to a position that can be occupied with people that have no skills or semi-skills for manual labors.
  2. This is an important position for the rig crew and it is realized in the hardest conditions: long schedules, hard work and difficult weather conditions.

    The tasks that a roughneck or a roustabout must perform allow the specialists to do their job better, and this is extracting the petroleum. You will need to move equipment, paint, do maintenance and cleaning work or clean the pipelines from rust deposits. Usually, for every crew on the rig there are 2 roughnecks or roustabouts, that need to perform hard tasks daily, like:

    • Clean the deck and remove any objects or equipments that stand in the way of the crew and restrain their tasks;
    • Repair and maintain the drilling equipment;
    • Assemble the oil equipment to post holes or dig ditches;
    • Remove the rust;
    • Paint the metal equipment with anti-corrosive substances;
    • Help assembling the pipeline network;
    • Many other 'dirty' duties.

    Looking for a roughneck or roustabout position might not seem as a good idea due to the fact that working as a roughneck or roustabout seems hard enough, and it is actually.

    But for all people who wan to start a career in this industry, this is the way to climb into the oil rig hierarchy. You can apply for those positions if you have a strong body, you can follow instructions and be willing to learn. Depending on the employer company, you might be paid around ,000 a year plus benefits. Therefore, it can be a great start.

  3. The Driller position requires you to supervise the crews that perform different tasks on the oil rig. Looking for employment as a driller requires you to know the tasks involved: a lot of responsibility, in the following areas:
    • Making sure that the work of the crew follows the company's policies;
    • Enforcing the rules regarding the protection equipment that all crews must use during the rig operations ( the PPE ? Personal Protective Equipment );
    • Constantly verifying the equipment and records the data in a log;
    • Meeting with the members of the crew and tests their knowledge regarding the importance of their work;
    • Operating the paperwork related to the files of the employees, the file permits or the equipment checks.

    The driller checks if the work is done properly, safely and with efficiency, all of that according to the regulations of the oil company. Operating with the rig equipment (like driller?s console, drill equipment) requires the driller to adjust whenever necessary the machines for an optimized functionality. Here are some skills that could be ideal for a driller position:

    • Good communication skills.
    • Attention to details.
    • Good interpersonal skills.
    • Organizational skills.

    In case you are searching for a job as a driller, you must have several certifications, such as the First Aid course or safety courses (including handling hazardous material or falling protection). Those certifications can allow a faster mobility towards better jobs, with higher salaries and more responsibilities.

  4. If you want to apply for a Derrick Hand position you should know that you will spend a lot of time on the 'monkey board', a high platform on the rig?s derrick. This requires you to be comfortable with heights. The main task would be to stack the drill pipe during its tripping out or guiding it while inserting it back into the drilling hole.
  5. Other tasks would be related to mud system of operations; assist the driller in case he needs it or verify the equipment. Required skills:

    • Team spirit;
    • Great coordination skills;
    • Safety certifications against falls or other types of accidents.
  6. The Motor Hand position involves the proper maintenance and repair of the engines of the drilling machines or other motorized equipments on the oil rig. If you are familiar with electric engines and you like mechanics, this job will fit you for sure. You must consider the fact that this job is an outdoor one and it requires a lot of traveling. The motor hand also performs additional tasks such as:
    • Instruct the roustabouts and the roughnecks (those can be promoted as motor hands after they gain the necessary experience and certifications);
    • Check the equipment and assure an optimum functioning;
    • Order the replacement parts needed for broken equipment and new tools.

    You will most probably need to attend a first aid course and a safety course as well and obtain the necessary certifications. Previous experience is also an advantage for the people who want a motor hand job.

    No matter the position you are applying for on an oil rig, you must expect to perform a physically demanding type of work. All employees benefit from good accommodation, food and other facilities assured by the rig company. Usually, the work schedule is two weeks of work and 21 days off, which is more than convenient for many of the oil rig workers.