How to Get Jobs on Oil Rigs (With Roles and Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 9, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Oil rigs are essential as they extract crude oil to meet the majority of the world's energy and fuel consumption requirements. They're platforms where trained professionals use various methods effectively to extract oil from either on the land or in the oceans and seas. If you're interested in working in oil extraction, gaining more knowledge of this profession can help you determine whether it's the right career path for you. In this article, we list common jobs on oil rigs, explain how to get jobs on oil rigs, and discuss the typical work environment of professional oil rig employees.

What are jobs on an oil rig?

There are many job options on an oil rig. Oil rigs are platforms where trained professionals extract crude oil from underground resources or wells using different methods. Oil rigs are an important part of many countries' economies as they can provide energy for large populations by extracting crude oil. Working on oil rigs requires extensive knowledge and experience in drilling and handling heavy equipment and machinery. These are some of the many types of jobs available on an oil rig:

  • Drillers: These professionals operate the drilling equipment on the rig.

  • Mechanics: Mechanics on an oil rig repair and maintain machinery, drilling equipment, and tools, helping ensure that all the equipment and machinery function smoothly.

  • Electricians: They maintain and repair the electrical systems of an oil rig, which are crucial to ensure smooth and safe crude oil extraction.

  • Roustabouts: Roustabouts maintain and inspect drilling equipment and perform various physical duties, such as securing the drilling equipment, cleaning the rig, and loading equipment onto the oil rig.

  • Welders: They oversee the welding procedures on the rig, such as welding and securing metal pipes, tools, and other machineries.

  • Crane operators: These operators move large, heavy objects on the oil rig, such as the pipes, drilling equipment, and other machinery using mechanized cranes.

  • Engineers: Engineers design and review drilling plans on the oil rig, and can specialize in specific areas of the rig with different designations, such as pipeline systems engineers, drilling engineers, or chemical storage engineers.

  • Medics: These health care professionals who provide essential medical aid and services to the oil rig, overseeing any first aid intervention, handling medical emergencies, and providing emergency life-saving care for the oil rig.

  • Cooks: Some organizations choose to hire cooks to provide nutritious meals for employees on offshore oil rigs.

Related: How to Become an Underwater Welder With Skills and Tips

How to get jobs on oil rigs

Learning how to get jobs on oil rigs is the first step in pursuing this challenging and rewarding career path. You can follow these steps to learn how to become an oil rig professional:

1. Ensure you meet the requirements

Most oil companies choose to set their own standards and requirements to help ensure safety, efficiency, and quality during the oil extraction process. When exploring potential careers, it's essential that you check if you meet the basic requirements for those professions, which can vary depending on the type of work, the company, and the position. Typically, an oil rig professional may meet the following professional requirements:

  • at least 18 years old

  • passed a medical examination to determine fitness

  • willing to work extensive 12-hour shifts and spend several weeks offshore on an oil rig

Related: Examples of EMT Certification Jobs (With Average Salaries)

2. Learn about the oil industry

Researching the various factors involved when working in the oil industry is essential if you wish to work on an oil rig. You can choose to learn about it online, establish connections with people in the industry, or complete a course covering the essential skills for working on an oil rig. For example, discussing the oil extraction process with oil rig engineers or welders can help you determine if working on an oil rig is right for you.

Related: What Companies Are in the Energy Field? (Types and Jobs)

3. Determine your desired role on an oil rig

Deciding on your desired role on an oil rig can help you gain valuable and relevant skills for that position. If you wish to work as an engineer or an electrician on an oil rig, gaining relevant training and education for that position can help you secure that position. Some career paths on an oil rig require technical knowledge, training, and education. If you wish to work as a medic, having a bachelor's degree or training in the field can improve your credentials and chances of securing the position.

Related: Learn About Oil Companies in Canada (With Descriptions)

4. Gain experience

After you've determined your desired career path, the next step involves gaining relevant experience in the field. If you wish to apply for the mechanic or a technician position, gaining experience as a mechanic can help you develop relevant skills for the position. Oil rigs work with heavy equipment and machinery, so working as a maintenance mechanic for machines can help you gain valuable experience and become a more qualified candidate. You can also explore apprenticeship opportunities to improve your credentials.

Related: How to Become an Oil Driller (Including Essential Skills)

5. Create an effective resume and cover letter

After you've gained some valuable and relevant experience, you can create an effective resume that you can use when applying for positions on oil rigs. An effective resume may highlight your professional experience, technical knowledge, and relevant skills to your desired position. Researching the specific requirements of various oil rig jobs can help you customize your resume and cover letter for each position. You can also include references to show employers determine that you're an exceptional candidate for the position.

6. Apply for your desired position

After creating an effective resume and cover letter, you can begin applying for your desired position on the oil rig. You can choose to apply for entry-level positions such as a roustabout and progress to advanced positions from there. Before applying for advanced positions such as an engineer or a medic, it's important to check whether you have the required training, education, and technical expertise for the position. You can also apply to work on a land oil rig before applying to an offshore rig, as some companies require trained professionals with extensive experience for safety reasons.

Related: How to Write an Oil and Gas Industry Resume (With Template)

7. Consider gaining advanced training

As you gain oil industry experience, you may get promoted to advanced positions depending on your skills, technical knowledge, and work performance. Many professionals start out as roustabouts and get promoted to advanced roles, such as drillers, welders, or technicians. Some roles on an oil rig can require advanced training and a degree. Engineers working on an oil rig can help drill, store, and manage oil. To become an engineer, you require a bachelor's degree or a master's degree.

Related: What Does a Petroleum Engineering Technologist Do?

Oil rig work environment

Highly trained professionals work on oil rigs either on land or offshore in the ocean. As oil rigs extract oil, they're often dangerous work environments. Professionals on oil rigs maintain high standards to help ensure everyone's safety during the drilling and crude oil extraction. As energy requirements never lessen, oil rigs function 24 hours a day, with professionals often working in 12-hour shifts to ensure the smooth functioning of the oil rig. For example, they may work for 12 hours and rest for 12 hours. This repeats for the duration of their shifts, which can last for several weeks.

Oil rig professionals usually stay in or near the oil rig, depending on its location. If the oil rig is located on land, they might choose to commute to the drilling site, or the organization may help them find accommodations at a local hotel or motel. For offshore floating oil rigs, employees may choose to live on the rig for the entirety of their shift's duration, typically for several weeks at a time. They can also choose to travel to the offshore rig using either boats or a helicopter, depending on their organization.

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