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Oil Rigs Jobs - On Oil Rigs, Jobs Are Tough but Pay Well

drilling equipment hand derrick

Although there is a push toward alternative fuels in the United States, oil will still be high in demand for decades to come. Oil drilling is still big business and the crews on oil rigs get paid handsomely for their work. On oil rigs, jobs are available in 6 to 9 different positions, each with their own unique set of responsibilities.

Oil rigs come in two different general types: offshore and onshore. Offshore drilling is that which occurs underwater. The body of water is usually an ocean or sea, but it can also be a large lake or a river. Onshore drilling is often simply referred to as oil drilling. It takes place on dry land. The more dangerous of the two is considered to be the offshore oil rigs. Jobs on offshore oil rigs can subject the workers to extreme weather and cramped, isolated living and working conditions. Both types of rigs, however, require similar teams of workers. Here are the most common jobs on oils rigs:

Rig Manager
The rig manager is sometimes called the “company man.” The manager directs and oversees all of the work on the rig. They answer directly to a corporate or regional headquarters. The job requires long hours and is physically demanding. Responsibilities include the following:

  • Establish schedules and coordinating departments to meet the company’s timeframe and quota.
  • Help to set up equipment
  • Order supplies
  • Resolve disputes
  • Train and motivate personnel
    The salary of a rig manager can range from $100,000 to $200,000 per year.

The oil driller is usually the second-in-command on oil rigs. Jobs of the drillers are varied, and all are extremely important. Besides their own duties, the drillers oversee the activities of the rest of the oil rig crew, which means they must know how to perform all of the jobs on the rig. During hard drilling, the driller operates the drawworks brake. On some rigs, the driller has an assistant who falls into place in the hierarchy of oil rigs jobs between the driller and derrick hand. Drillers make an average of $120,000 per year.

Derrick Hand
Also known as the derrickman or the mud engineer, this job position is one of the highest-ranking on the rig, after the rig manager and driller. The name of this job derives from the fact that most of the work done is from a platform that is attached directly to the mast, also called the derrick. It is the job of the derrick hand to hang over the platform and pull in the pipe for storage when not in use. The derrick hand is also responsible for testing the mud pit for viscosity. The mud pit is necessary to ensure the drill remains lubricated. A derrick hand’s annual salary averages $75,000.

Motor Hand
The motor hand, also called the motorman, is responsible for maintaining and repairing not only the drill motors, but all of the motorized equipment on the rig. Responsibilities include the following:

  • Align the drill stem with the motor and gears
  • Assemble equipment for pumping
  • Operate and maintain the drilling mud system
  • Monitor rig gauges
  • Supervise roughnecks, roustabouts, and other laborers.
    Motor hands typically earn $70,000 to $75,000 per year.

Technical/Professional Specialists
The technical/professional specialists are a particular group of workers on oil rigs. Jobs for specialists include the rig electrician, rig mechanic, rig welder, and rig medic. These jobs all require general specialist training and training for performing the work aboard a rig. These positions pay from $70,000 to over $100,000, depending on experience.

The roughnecks are perhaps the most famous of oil rig workers. Roughnecks are drill crew members responsible for the general labor on the rig. Roughneck jobs are entry-level and are considered either unskilled or semi-skilled labor. Some of the duties of roughnecks include the following:

  • Setup and teardown of rig equipment
  • Cleanup
  • Sort tools and pieces of equipment
  • Handle pipe and drill stem sections for removal and replacement
    The wages of roughnecks averages to $60,000 annually.

The roustabout is another entry-level position on oil rigs. Jobs of this sort have a primary responsibility of freeing up all other crew members from distracting peripheral tasks. They are the “gophers” of the oil rig. Some of the duties include the following:

  • Assemble equipment
  • Assist technical/professional specialists
  • Minor maintenance and repair work
  • Cleanup
  • Dig mud pits and drains
  • Mix drilling fluids
  • Operate miscellaneous equipment
    The pay scale for roustabouts comes to an average of $50,000 per year.
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