How to Get a Job on an Oil Rig

The Appeal of Offshore Work

These days, more and more people from all walks of life are looking for jobs on an oil rig. Some are just entering the work force, while others are ready for a change of career. These jobs are in high demand for a variety of reasons:

  • Working on an oil rig offers the potential for a long career
  • Oil rig jobs come with a variety of emphases/skill sets/entry levelsworker on oil rig job
  • Working on an oil rig isn’t a typical 9-5 day job
  • Oil rig work is done in extended stretches, known as “hitches”—workers can spend six months at sea, then enjoy a six-month “vacation”
  • A career as an oil rig worker gives you the opportunity to work your way up from an entry-level position to a senior position
  • Many aspects of jobs on an oil rig are highly physical, perfect for employees who don’t relish spending all day sitting at a desk
  • Offshore oil rig work takes you all over the world
  • Working on an oil rig can bring big financial rewards; some oil rig jobs bring in more than $100,000 per year

How to Become an Offshore Worker and Get an Oil Rig Job

Unlike other career paths, there is no single way to get a job on an oil rig. Depending on your education level, experience and skill set, there are many different entry points to getting a job on an oil rig. Each of these jobs comes with its own set of qualifications and entry routes.

For those with minimal education or who may not have finished secondary school, entry level oil rig jobs include floorhands, welders, stewards. and galley hands, These jobs typically involve the shortest “hitches,” or lengths of time, and are paid on an hourly basis. Average yearly wages for these jobs start at $32,000 per year.

For those who have completed high school, a job as a derrickman, driller or roustabout is a good place to get started. These oil rig jobs require no prior experience, and start at a median salary of about $41,970 per year.

Those with prior oil rig experience may be able to start with a new company in a higher position, such as an oil rig manager or “toolpusher.” An average salary for an oil rig manager is about $56,540, with some earning as high as $85,000 per year.

For those who have completed a more advanced degree in a relevant field (e.g., in engineering) who have demonstrated leadership experience (e.g., a former marine officer), an acceleration program may be available that offers a job with more challenges and responsibilities as well as higher pay. These jobs may start at salaries around $130,280 and climb as high as $200-300,000 or more at the top level.

Tips on Getting an Oil Rig Job

Every drilling company is different. However, there are a few constant elements in how to get a job on an oil rig.

  • Know what you want out of your career. Many companies will have online quizzes that can help you assess your skills and interests to find the oil rig job that would be the best fit for you.
  • All oil rig jobs require passing a safety certificate. Different states will have different requirements for the safety certification.
  • Depending on the company, lack of experience or education is not necessarily a deal breaker. Letters of recommendation, personal statements and character assessments may be part of the recruitment process where you can show your potential for an oil rig career.
  •  Know what you’re getting into. Once you get into an interview for a job on an oil rig, the recruiters will want to know that you are prepared to handle the conditions and circumstances of the job. Knowing that information in advance will put you in a better position to nail the interview and get the job offer.
  • The site provides a helpful job search matrix that lets you map out a career for yourself in the oil rig industry.

Be aware that this career path is not for everyone. Many jobs on an oil rig involve work that is highly physical and requires you to maintain optimal health and fitness in order to perform your duties well. Even those jobs that are more technical in nature require the ability to perform well under stress. The long intensive periods alone with your crew can take a toll on your psyche and your relationships back home.

Fortunately, there are ways that experienced oil rig workers have found to overcome these hardships and reap the rewards of oil rig work over a long, fruitful career. The keys to thriving in a job on an oil rig are personal determination, perseverance and initiative.

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