T Nation

Working On An Oil Rig


Anybody know anything about how to get hired on an oil rig? I've been doing some online research about employment in this sector, but so far my study has been rather fruitless.

Guys on rigs work a 14/21 day rotation, which equates to only working 3/5 of the year. A roughneck can make $50,000 a year, which is DAMN good considering you only work 3/5 of the year, and you are housed and fed. The work is supposedly extremely physically and mentally demanding, but reading about other people's experiences makes me want to work on one. I have read that its an experience of a lifetime.

Anyway, does anyone know anything about this line of work?


Yeah, I know quite a few that are on rigs or have been on rigs. Yes it is demanding and at times dangerous. You are on the rig from a week to a month at a time, then off for a week to three weeks. The schedule depends on who you work for. The money is good, but you scarifice a lot of time for it. If you have a family at home, it can be hard, as some families have fallen apart with a father away for so long at a time. I don't know how to get hired onto one other than looking for ads from employers.


Watch out. If an asteroid the size of Texas is hurtling towards Earth, you and your crew will have to land on it to drill a hole.


I never considered that scenario...this definitely changes my plans


You need a reference from someone at the company you're wanting to work for. I don't think anyone hires "off the street" anymore. If you do get on, don't go out of your way to piss anyone off.


Depends where you are. I live in Calgary and during the high season if you could pass a drug test you were on your way really. Some people reccomend the training courses that are offered. i think they're a ridiculous waste of time an money (most are several thousand bucks). It is definetly harder in the summer up here to get picked up but not impossible.

I started by driving a Vac Truck fo a few months then got picked up by the rig I was on...I worked as a leasehand for 3 months..then switched companies..did 2 hitches as a roughneck then worked motors for a year until it was time for me to go back to school.

My question is...where are you getting this "only work 3/5 of the yea stuff"??
We worked 14 on 7 off all the time. Unless you're thinking offshore because I have no idea how that works.

Where are you located anyways?

Funny side story: I had a driller who absolutely lost his mind one day on the floor when he found out that I had never seen Armageddon. This guy was a touch weird but I have a feeling he watched that movie every day and just stared at the phone praying that the president would call...I was ordered to watch and learn the movie next week off or not to come back.



Funny story.

Anway, I am referring specifically to OFFSHORE oil rigs. I suppose I should have made that more clear in my original post.


That is one thing i wish I had tried before school. An offshore rig would be an unreal experience I think. I have only rumours to offer you but as far as I know it is hard to get on one up here in Canada unless you live in Atlantic Canada. And most guys don;t give up those jobs once they get them if they can help it.

That is good and bad...good because the chances of you getting stuck wih a moron who's just as likely to kill you as him is very small...bad because getting on is the hard part. knowing someone on the inside is likely your best bet I guess.

Good luck man!



Where it's almost impossible. :slightly_smiling: You go out to the maritimes and Newfoundland and you quickly discover the value put on those jobs. Poverty is the highest in the nation out there, groceries are expensive, but other costs of living are very, very low. In many areas in Newfoundland you can pick up a 3-5 bedroom house on an acre of land for $30-$50k.

So when someone gets a job that pays out $50k a year? Damn straight they fight to keep it! And when they finally give it up, they'll usually hire locals simply because they know the fanatic work ethic they'll bring to the project. Sure, there's a lazy bastard in every crew, but many of them will work themselves to death just for the chance to have a job without straying too far from home.


It really depends on what you want to do on the rig. If you come in already skilled and get a chance for an expates position on the rig as a mechanic you're looking at bringing in about 400-500 dollars per day. But mind you this is a 28/28 day rotation. you only work 6 months out of the year and your clearing 70,000. If your lucky and wind up being shipped to another country you also get a traveling bonus which could be in excess of 15% of your gross pay per day as well as extra pay depending on whether or not the country is deemed a hardship. If it is deemed a hardship you're looking at another 7-19 % percent on top of your travel allowance.

Most companies pay for your travel and lodging to and from the rig. if you work in the Gulf of Mexico, you have to provide your own ride to the heliport, or the boat dock. Taking a boat to a rig sucks majorily. A helicopter isn't so bad.

Most rigs, offshore and inland have excellent food and recreation facilities.

If your interested in working the rigs hit me up with an IM, let me know where you live and what kind of qualifications you have. I know we are currently looking for people to work 3 rigs we just moved to the States.



I've worked for a oil field service company for 15 years, so I've been around a lot of rigs. It's not all a bed of roses. I've watched 2 guys lose fingers, watched a friend get his hand mangled, missed seeing a guy get killed by about 1 hour, and missed seeing a guy lose his leg by about 10 min. It's very dangerous work.
You'll probably have a hard time getting on an offshore rig without experience from a land rig. Right now, in the Rockes, if you have a pulse, you can get a job. Not as glamorous, and not as high paying as offshore, but if your moderately intellegent & hard working you can make Driller in a year or so & clear $50G/year easy.


to get on an offshore rig you need experience. I had a buddy that did it and he had to roughneck and know his way around a rig before he got onto an offshore rig. right now though, I have friends that work for oilrigs in the summer and they bring in about 5 grand a weed working 7 on 7 off. just find an oil company or someone in the business and ask, becuase most rigs will train you if you can pass the drug test. Just beware that its a dangerous job. One of my friends that roughnecked said that 2 people were killed on his rig last summer, and he broke his finger, and there were several injuries.


Thee's a lot of that heer in Texas, too(go figure). But I've never been that interested, as you said it's dangerous, more so than I'd like to deal with, regardless of profit. I've thought about it, but especially now that I'm married, no way.


It's only dangerous if you have your head up your ass. I started out working for an oil rig equipment manufacturer when I was in High School. I learned everything I could went to work for a drilling company as a mechanic , and now I'm a mechanical supervisor in charge of all the rigs the company I work for owns in the former Soviet Union and the Gulf of Mexico. It's not easy, expect to put in a shit load of hours and deal with alot of assholes, put it'll pay off in the long run.



Or anybody else on your crew has their head up thier ass.


This is more my main concern. You can have as much sense as you want, but it only takes one dumbass to cost you much.


That is damn true...the idiots never die...only the ones around them. Leaving the idiots free to kill again. One of my favorite weekly rituals was to read the industry accident reports and see what some people actually attempt to do.

A few one-liners from my career working with some gems:
-Motorhand hammering away like his life depended on it on a hose clamp...not realizing that drill mud was pumping through the 6inch line at around 10,000psi or so.
-Lifting a kelly-hole out with a noose-looped strap...only to have a leasehand walk right up and put his head in the noose over the hole and look down
-Partner roughneck standing on the drill floor while tripping out...directly under where the blocks we going to end up after whistling down at breakneck speed (nobody watches there cause nobody's supposed to be that stupid to stand there). This was my one act of "heroism"...tackling the fool out of the way before he got crushed...he had the nerve to get mad at me for knocking him down
-I could go on...but the laughter and sadness of these idiots confuses me.

Anyone else have stories?



I have lots of stories. Back from the 70's when no one was drug tested.


Shit happens.

That's spaghetti looking stuff was brand new tubing (probably 73mm) that was blown out of the hole while pulling some joints.

Hell, you could head up to the oilsands here in Alberta -- it's insane how high the demand is for workers with all these massive projects under construction here.


Does anybody know what it's like (pay, lifestyle etc) doing construction in a place like Fort McMurray?