Entry Level Oil Jobs for Experience and Advancement: Where to Start8 min read
Contrary to preconceptions, people from a variety of life experiences and backgrounds can find their place on an oil rig. Not every position requires mechanical knowledge or brute strength!There are many people on deck that make different and equally important contributions that help the operation run efficiently. While many of the descriptions provided are of a technical nature, also discussed are those areas that allow for varying areas of expertise.
Roustabouts occupy the main deck. They are those individuals engaging in the hands-on operation. In every sense of the word, they conduct the overall operation and general upkeep by maintaining saltwater disposal pumps, among many other tasks. Attire is provided for you and takes the form of personal protective gear (PPE). It varies from place to place, but generally consists of helmets, overalls, hard-toed shoes or boots, gloves, safety glasses, etc. The role is so diverse that someone filling this description could take on unlimited other roles, ranging from drilling, well completion, well service, and chemical, accounting for the competitive salary it earns: $45,000 to $55,000 a year. Of course there is room for growth with those that stick with it.
For anyone staying beyond a couple of months, the next step up from Roustabout is Roughneck. They are responsible for making connections between piping along with their general tasks, and earn around $58,000 a year.
The precision and strength required are not to be underestimated. When connections are done to the T and on impeccable timing, it has a remarkable rhythm. This is something to work towards.
The Steward/Stewardess handles matters that occur inside the living quarters. They take care of laundry, attend to the cleanliness of rooms, and things of the housekeeping capacity. Kitchen assistance is part of their role as well. This position makes lets you live in every day, comfortable attire which can consist of what is currently in your lounge/workout drawer. An example of acceptable attire is a t-shirt, comfortable pants and sneakers. For a person making contributions of one’s own as a Steward/Stewardess awaits a salary of $45,000. The next step up is Camp Boss, generally earning $55,000.
Welders work at a more intense and even more hands-on capacity than the Roustabout. Their responsibilities pertain to repairing and creating new metalwork. They are required to hold and regularly renew their American WELDING society Certificates. These certifications last for six months and are not transferable between companies.
However, it is said that getting your certification at an accredited AWS establishment provides an exception to the time/company limitation. It is best to check with each company you contact to know their stance on this.
There are two types of capacities the Welder can serve at. The first requires consistent location on or near the rig to carry out repairs and build new metalwork. The other is more flexible, requiring you to come in only when there are big projects to be completed quickly. Since this role is pretty specialized in itself, there is no pressure of upward mobility to another position. Salaries run around $60,000 to $62,000. Because this position is considered entry-level, you have good chances for being hired even if you have never worked on a rig before.
Scaffolders are unique to offshore locales. They are crucial to the team because they enable the crew members working at high elevations to get up various levels of the structure and to access their equipment as they do it. They build these support systems for temporary uses, such as for when there is a need for construction, maintenance, painting, part replacement, and cleaning. Their duty is to assess the task that calls for the scaffolding, the weight that will be put on it, and to keep it in good condition while in use.
Their role calls for the use of materials such as metal, wood, and engineered plastic to build the framework for the scaffolding. Due to the amount of time spent away from home and the potential danger involved, the salary is high. They make a salary of up to $60,000. Working at heights may require taking a safety class in order to perform rigging and to supervise coworkers.
Radio Operators serve as the logistical headquarters. They maintain communications with shore bases, other ships, and helicopters. They also ensure that radio and equipment requirements are met and adhered to while the radio is in periods of silence. In emergencies, not only do they keep in touch with other bases, they also connect to emergency coordinator systems. They maintain search and rescue (SAR) watch while helicopters make their transits.
This role is a very important one, earning a salary of $60,000. The beginning level alone brings with it Morse Code use ranging from 15 and 40 meter bands working on an Amateur (Ham) radio. Preparation to serve at this capacity involves reading and getting familiar with Morse code, aka Continuous Wave.
Medics are licensed Paramedics that have state, CPR, and Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification. Certifications are generally obtained under National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. They possess a broad knowledge base of illnesses and injuries, and the appropriate interventions to use. They are the first responders at on site injuries. Accordingly, this position requires you to be in top physical shape, making a proper diet and adequate exercise necessary. As in regular settings, this position requires lifting, running, and quick decision making. Companies typically look for someone who has one to two years of experience working as a paramedic.
To become a paramedic, the typical requirements include: attending classes two evenings a week for nine months, and earning a total of around 1500 clinical hours. Depending on where you are, more steps may be required. Upon just starting out as, you can make $25/hr., more or less. Generally when you’re starting on a rescue squad you’ll make $10 to $20 an hour. You can make an overall salary of $60,000.
In this position you will be assigned either day or night shift, with someone always on call. Be aware that whatever medical resources are available at the moment is what you have to make do with until there is a shipment of more supplies. Part of the duties include: maintaining medical supplies and medical equipment; issuing medication as needed; maintaining the sick bay area; performing assessments and medical procedures; as well as intermediate life support procedures and techniques.
Rig Safety Training Coordinators (RSTC’s) ensure that the environment is accident-free, safe, and conducive to getting work done. They serve as mentors and coaches in the process. For that reason, this is a role that is consistently in demand for its ability to maintain and uphold the strict demands of the industry. RSTC’s keep accurate records of all inspections and investigations, so computer literacy is required. They make inspections of equipment onboard, including hoses, tools, etc. They also assign and oversee fire watches, make sure workers are in healthy shape all around, and are wearing their protective gear.
RSTC’s are required to have at their disposal a full understanding of company policies and offshore laws. They are to follow without fail the Quality, Health, Safety, Environment (QHSE) procedures. Excellent communication skills are a must; there is no room for misunderstanding in an environment where immediate decisions are made around heavy, powerful machinery. This just so happens to be one of the highest paying positions, earning anywhere from $80,000 to $86,000.
Mudloggers/Mud Engineers do the crucial work of ensuring the gas levels are at equilibrium for safety purposes. This role requires education in chemistry, with those filling the role holding a BSc or Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. This is a high-stakes position to fill; one must constantly observe gas levels to avoid dangerous fluctuations that could cause an explosion. For this reason, you will always have a fellow Mudlogger on shift with you to help maintain alertness.
Mudloggers perform chemical analyses of the soil, oil, and gas that is being drilled into by way of monitoring pressure gauges. Using data from their analysis, they compose drilling mud which is used to pack the pipe and casing of the drill hole. This role requires such a significant level of meticulousness that calculations have to be on point when mixing the mud, as the mud’s viscosity needs to be able to block any oil and/or gas surges that occur when the pipe transfers through different levels of the earth to the oil reserve. Salaries for this position range from $70,000 to $80,500.
The Storeman is charge of receiving supplies delivered via ship. Part of this position is being available whenever the deliveries arrive, including in the middle of the night. As much-needed supplies pass through the Storeman’s hands such as medical material, and equipment, he or she must know how to record information on a computer-generated database of what is in the warehouse.
Storemen also monitor equipment to make sure they comply with material requisitions (MR’s). They coordinate equipment transfers, provide instructions for material operation, and other tasks They too are to attend safety meetings. In this position, you can expect around $60,000 a year.
Rig Painters work suspended from a harness and retouch the rig’s paint job for functional and aesthetic purposes. Offshore, the seawater exposure chips the layers of paint, and overtime creates the risk of corrosion/rust. Equally, painters are no afterthought on the crew; rather, they help add to the safety by creating a protective barrier to the structure. For that reason, they rack in $58,000.
Motormen are the other strong arms on the crew. They not only carry out repairs and do routine maintenance; they also drive trucks, operate hydraulic pumping systems to place cement in the oil wells, as well as chemical-, sand-, and gas-treat the oil wells for production. They handle sections of the pipe or drill from a platform, mix chemicals, and do some overseeing. This well-rounded job also requires other cerebral tasks such as reading gauges, and monitoring mudflow. While there can be a predictable task list, be open to other tasks that may come along as needed. With that said, you’ll know that your contribution does not go unacknowledged, at $58,000 a year!
Electricians are the troubleshooters of the bunch. They install, maintain, repair, test, and control electrical systems on board. They are employed by maintenance departments of drilling and well servicing contractors. Because of the risky nature of their work, they are to wear the designated protective gear at all times, and are expected to follow the Electric Code. Upward mobility to Supervisor is possible in this area. Prior to progressing, salaries for these personnel are $65,000. Supervisors can earn up to $77,000.
As shown, it takes more than one skill type to run an oil rig. Part of knowing what you’re looking for is knowing what you bring to the table, and how you plan to maximize/grow it. This first step it crucial!