How to Become an Oil Rig Worker


An oil rig is a type of large remote structure used for drilling oil. The men and women who work on oil rigs are responsible for a wide variety of duties associated with safe drilling, including the proper use of specialized equipment. Becoming an oil rig worker isn’t easy—it requires arduous physical labor and a demanding round-the-clock schedule. If you’re serious about working on an oil rig, it will help to learn as much about the industry as you can and rack up valuable experience as a mechanic or technician to distinguish yourself from the competition once it comes time to start applying for jobs.

Part 1
Meeting the Basic Qualifications

Meeting the Basic Qualifications on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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In the United States and most other parts of the world, you must be legally recognized as an adult in order to even be considered for employment on an oil rig. If you’re not yet of legal age, you’ll have no choice but to wait until your 18th birthday to begin sending out your resume.[1] If it’s your goal to become an oil rig worker but you aren’t quite old enough, now is the perfect time to start doing your homework about what exactly the job entails. You might also consider seeking employment as a mechanic or machine technician in the meantime to gain relevant industry experience, which will come in handy once you’re actually assigned to a rig.

Meeting the Basic Qualifications on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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Having a formal education isn’t strictly necessary to sign on for rig work. However, almost all employers will want to see that you’ve at least completed high school, or received your GED or similar certificate of high school equivalency. If you haven’t earned these credentials yet, you should make it a priority to do so, even before you begin looking for employment in a related field.[2]Holding a diploma or equivalency shows that you have the mental aptitude needed to understand complex procedural tasks, and that you can be trusted to follow and carry out sensitive instructions correctly.

Meeting the Basic Qualifications on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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As a rig worker, you may be expected to perform physical tasks like lifting, bending, climbing ladders, navigating hazardous walkways, and standing for long periods of time. Beginning a basic physical fitness regimen consisting of regular cardiovascular exercise and light-to-moderate resistance training will help ensure that you’re fit enough to meet the demands of the position.[3] Jogging, swimming, cycling, calisthenics, and weightlifting are all activities you can do to improve your physical fitness and decrease the risks associated with rig work. In some cases, you may also be required to pass a physical exam in order to be eligible for a given position.[4]

Meeting the Basic Qualifications on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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It’s not uncommon for oil rig workers to be assigned shifts as long as 2-3 weeks a stretch. This means you’ll be working many days on end without a break. At times, you may also be asked to work nights or irregular hours to keep up with an accelerated production schedule.[5]On the plus side, offshore rig workers are provided with on-site lodging and meals, so you won’t have to worry about planning your commute, finding suitable accommodations, or buying food.Tip: If your current job allowsit, start volunteering for theoccasional swing or night shiftto see how you handle working oddhours.Tip: If your current job allows it,start volunteering for the occasionalswing or night shift to see how youhandle working odd hours.Tip: If your current job allows it, startvolunteering for the occasional swing ornight shift to see how you handle workingodd hours.Tip: If your current job allows it, start volunteering for theoccasional swing or night shift to see how you handle working odd hours.Tip: If your current job allows it, start volunteering for the occasionalswing or night shift to see how you handle working odd hours.

Part 2
Gaining Helpful Experience and Credentials

Gaining Helpful Experience and Credentials on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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The majority of the occupations on an oil rig are mechanical. For this reason, it can be helpful to record at least a couple of years of experience working on cars, appliances, industrial equipment, or other machines. This experience will translate well to the sorts of duties you’ll be assigned on a rig.[6] Not all oil rig workers get their start as mechanics. Having a background as an electrician, welder, medic, or cook could also go a long way towards securing a position.[7] The exact nature of the mechanical work you do isn’t as important as familiarizing yourself with life in the industry. You’ll receive specialized on-the-job education and training later on.

Gaining Helpful Experience and Credentials on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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If time and money allow, consider going back to school to study mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, mathematics, chemistry, or industrial management. While it's not necessary to hold anything beyond a high school diploma to get your start as a rig hand, earning a degree in one of these subjects could give you a leg up if you have loftier aspirations for your future.[8] Some universities offer petroleum engineering degree programs as part of their curriculum. Industry-specific programs like these will teach you everything you need to know about the technical and administrative aspects of drilling.[9] Outside of rig positions, oil companies also have an urgent need for experts in fields like geology, environmental science, and business. You might go out for a degree in one of these subjects if you don't think you would mind working in an office.

Gaining Helpful Experience and Credentials on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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Basic Offshore Safety Induction Emergency Training, or “BOSIET” training, is a type of safety education required of all new employees entering into the offshore drilling industry. To sign up, search for nearby marine academies and occupational safety schools offering BOSIET courses. These courses tend to run for 2-3 days, and cost $800-1,000 on average, including the cost of testing and registering your certification.[10] You can also consider getting a certificate for Helicopter Underwater Escape Training. As part of your BOSIET training, you’ll learn skills like safety induction, fire safety, self-rescue, helicopter safety and escape, and sea survival.[11] You must have completed your BOSIET certification before you begin applying for jobs.Tip: Many seaside colleges in theUS and UK have their own marinesafety schools.[12]Tip: Many seaside colleges in the USand UK have their own marine safetyschools.[12]Tip: Many seaside colleges in the US and UKhave their own marine safety schools.[12]Tip: Many seaside colleges in the US and UK have their own marine safetyschools.[12]Tip: Many seaside colleges in the US and UK have their own marine safetyschools.[12]

Gaining Helpful Experience and Credentials on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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“TWIC” is short for “Transportation Worker Identification Credential,” which is a type of security clearance that allows oil industry workers in the US to access to secure maritime facilities and vessels. You can apply for your TWIC online at , or visit a Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) enrollment center to complete the application process in person.[13] Along with your application, you’ll be asked to provide several approved identifying documents, including multiple forms of photo ID, copies of your fingerprints, and thorough biographical personal information. Each of these materials will be evaluated in detail by TSA officials.[14] Applying online may seem more convenient, but it may actually be simpler to complete the application process all at once at a local TSA enrollment center, as you won’t have to take the time to scan and upload each of your identifying documents.

Gaining Helpful Experience and Credentials on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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They’ll be able to advise you on how to get started on your journey, as well as offer valuable insight into the day-to-day life of a rig worker. If you don’t have any personal connections to past or current oil rig workers, ask around until you get the name of someone who might be willing to answer any questions you may have. Another option is to read through message boards and online communities like Reddit, where you can find posters willing to share their experiences in the field.

Gaining Helpful Experience and Credentials on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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There, you’ll get the low-down on various companies and find out who’s hiring at the moment. You’ll also be privy to many amusing and informative stories about what it’s really like to work on an oil rig. Best of all, all of this information will be coming straight from some of the industry's leading organizations and figures.[15] Long-running magazines like Offshore, Oilweek, and Oil and Gas Monthly can offer you an insider's perspective on recent technological developments and other special interest topics affecting the petroleum industry.[16] There are also a multitude of online blogs maintained by oil industry personnel, such as Rigzone. In addition to news and analysis, these blogs are regularly updated with info on job postings, recruitment services, upcoming events, and up-to-date industry data.

Gaining Helpful Experience and Credentials on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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Take some time to read up on how the drilling, refining, and transport of oil takes place. There are many fascinating books and websites covering these and other related subjects. In the process, you’ll also learn about new regulations affecting the oil trade, which is constantly changing with advances in global environmental and economic politics.[17] Be sure to pick your personal contacts’ brains on important industry topics, as well. You’ll have a great advantage during the interview process if you can demonstrate to potential employers that you possess some knowledge of the petroleum business.

Gaining Helpful Experience and Credentials on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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Most workers get their start as roughnecks or roustabouts, which are general labor positions involving physical tasks like cleaning, preparing equipment, and making basic repairs. From there, you have the potential to be promoted to pumpman or derrickman, then on to assistant driller and eventually driller. If you continue to advance in the field, could even wind up as the manager or supervisor for the entire rig![18]Other job titles you could find yourself with down the line include general mechanic, electrician, crane operator, toolpusher, rig welder, and barge engineer. Clearly, there’s lots to do on an oil rig![19]

Part 3
Finding a Job

Finding a Job on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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A solid resume and cover letter are a must when it comes to impressing employers in all fields, and the oil industry is no exception. Your resume is where you’ll detail your qualifications as a mechanic, technician, or trained laborer. Be sure to highlight any distinctions you’ve earned, as well as specific skills you possess that might translate to rig work, such as servicing machines or working long or unusual hours.[20] Your resume can be anywhere from 1-2 pages, but if shouldn’t be any longer, as a general rule. If you’re having trouble fitting your entire work history and experience into 2 pages, try switching to a smaller font size or condensing the info you’ve including using plain, concise language.[21] If the listing you’re responding to asks for a separate cover letter, you’ll also need to attach a half or full-page document explaining why you’d be a good choice for the job.

Finding a Job on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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Internet job search sites like Monster, Indeed, and CareerBuilder can be great resources for finding current openings. Read through the listings you come across carefully to ensure that you have the necessary qualifications, then send in your resume. It could take days or even weeks to hear back about a position, so be patient.[22] Most of the listings you’re likely to find on the average job search site will be for floor hand, assistant, and trainee positions, all of which are entry-level.[23] You may also be able to find listings for various positions in the classifieds section of your local newspaper if you live in or near a coastal area.Tip: You’ll have a lot ofcompetition as an entry-levelworker, so it’s a good idea toapply for as many jobs asyou’re qualified for and spreadyour resume far and wide.Tip: You’ll have a lot ofcompetition as an entry-level worker,so it’s a good idea to apply for asmany jobs as you’re qualified forand spread your resume far and wide.Tip: You’ll have a lot of competition asan entry-level worker, so it’s a good ideato apply for as many jobs as you’requalified for and spread your resume far andwide.Tip: You’ll have a lot of competition as an entry-level worker, soit’s a good idea to apply for as many jobs as you’re qualified forand spread your resume far and wide.Tip: You’ll have a lot of competition as an entry-level worker, so it’s agood idea to apply for as many jobs as you’re qualified for and spread yourresume far and wide.

Finding a Job on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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If you’ve worked as an engineer, construction manager, or medical professional in the past, your expertise may be especially attractive to prospective employers. Apply through the usual channels or write the company you want to work for and inform them about your desire to join up. If your skills are in high enough demand, you might be in the running for a position with more responsibility.[24] The more education, training, and experience you have, the higher your starting salary will usually be.

Finding a Job on How to Become an Oil Rig Worker

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It can take a lot of time and hard work to see upward mobility as a rig worker. As long as you have a good attitude, follow orders well, show initiative, and continue to learn and add to your skill set, you’re guaranteed to have a bright future in the oil industry.[25]Patience will be a necessity if you hope to rise through the ranks. It could take years to get promoted from roughneck or roustabout to a more specialized position like pumpman or assistant driller, and from there onto an overseer or managerial role.