Getting Started As a Driller With No Job Experience

Offshore drilling jobs are amongst the toughest around. Twelve hour shifts in all weather conditions for weeks on end are certainly not for everyone. However, for those who can take the pace, a job as a driller is also amongst one of the highest paid around, and has no shortage of perks. It is also possible to get started along the path to becoming a driller with no relevant job experience.

Where to Start

The entry level position for offshore drilling jobs is as a roustabout. Most people who work on an oil rig, all the way to the top jobs, started their careers as a roustabout. This involves most of the heavy manual labour and basic maintenance on board the rig, such as painting the deck and hauling equipment from one location to another. Yet even this entry-level position carries a high salary upwards of US$50,000.

No experience or formal qualifications are required to become a roustabout, and so this first step on the way to an offshore drilling job is perfect for anyone starting out in their career or seeking a change of direction. All that is required is that you are over 18, at least 5′ 5″ tall, and are prepared to work hard during long shifts in all weather conditions. Most companies prefer to recruit from within their own ranks, so with a good attitude and the right skills it is possible to rise high.

Career Path

After mastering your job as a roustabout, you can expect to be promoted to the position of roughneck. Roughnecks still do a lot of the hard physical labour, but their jobs are more involved with the drilling process and can include laying the drilling pipe and inserting and extracting the drill. It is possible to reach this level after less than a year as a roustabout.

Once you have proved yourself as a roughneck you will be promoted to the level of assistant derrickman, or pumpman, going on to become a derrickman. The derrickman has more responsibility and hence a higher salary, as he is in charge of the pumping room and the maintenance of the mud holding pits.

At this point you will be well on your way to an offshore driller job. After a period as a derrickman, those who show the right levels of dedication, skill and reliability will become assistant drillers. An assistant driller directly supervises the roughnecks, pumpman and derrickman and has many responsibilities within the drilling operation.

Within 5-10 years after starting at the bottom as a roustabout, it is possible to rise to the top and take on an offshore drilling job. The earlier job roles could perhaps be seen as an extended apprenticeship as a trainee driller.

The driller is second only to the rig manager and is responsible for the entire drilling operation. He operates the drilling equipment directly and gives orders to the rest of the drill crew via the assistant driller. Salaries for offshore driller jobs start at around USĀ£80,000.

What are the Conditions Like?

Working aboard an oil rig can be exceptionally demanding physically and is often dirty work. There is a moderate amount of danger involved, as is always the case when dealing with heavy machinery. Shifts and work patterns are long and grueling – most drill crews work on a rotation system. What this means is that you’ll spend 2-4 weeks doing 12 hour shifts without days off, followed by an equal amount of time off. While this is certainly not for everyone, it does mean that you can earn a substantial salary and effectively only work for half the year.

Where can I apply for offshore drilling jobs?

You can begin your career as a driller by sending your CV or resume to the relevant departments at the major oil companies and the smaller subcontractors through whom they employ much of their offshore labour. You’ll also find various roustabout and roughneck jobs advertised online, but your best place to start is by signing up with a recruitment agency who specialise in offshore drilling jobs in the oil and gas industry. They know exactly what the oil rigs look for in their drillers and can guide you through the process.

Duncan Freer – Director – offshore oil jobs and offshore drilling jobs. Search is a job site dedicated to the specific needs of candidates who work in the Oil and Gas industry. We also provide recruiters with an online service that is effective in terms of cost and ease of use.