What Are The Entry Level Jobs On Oil Rigs?

Entry level jobs on oil rigs include labor, maintenance, medical housekeeping and support

by Calvin Loh

Are you looking for jobs on oil rigs? When you do not have any experience in this industry, finding a job looks as tough as climbing Mount Everest. However, just a little bit of knowledge, preparation and hard work can do wonders. Like any other industry, you need to start at the bottom to get in. For a start, here is a list of entry level offshore rig jobs.

1. Roustabout

Roustabouts are general laborers. They provide the brawn and handle most of the heavy lifting and cleaning. They mostly work on the main deck of the oil rig. When necessary, they may be asked to help the roughnecks on the drill floor. Salaries range from $45,000 to $55,000 a year. The next step up from roustabout is roughneck.

2. Steward

This is another unskilled entry level position. The steward helps out in the kitchen, cleans up the accommodations and does the laundry. If they do their jobs right and make an effort to improve themselves, they may eventually find themselves becoming a cook or camp boss themselves. This is one of the lowest paying jobs on an oil rig, at only $45,000 per year.

3. Rig Welder

Welders carry out the day-to-day repairs on an oil rig. They also build new metalwork when necessary. When there is a big project, the oil services contractor will hire additional welders for the duration of the project to speed up its completion. Unlike roustabouts, welders may need some form of trade certification (CITB in the UK, AWS in the US). These certifications are rigorous and need to be renewed regularly. Typical salaries are around $60,000. Compare this to the average salary in the manufacturing sector - $30,000 based on 2004 statistics.

4. Scaffolders

Scaffolders move from rig to rig as needed. Some oil companies require their scaffolders to hold a trade certification. Unlike roustabouts, their work is done high up on the oil rig. When comparing the different jobs on a rig, this is one of the more dangerous ones, which explains why they can easily earn up to $60,000 per year. Compare this to the construction industry's rate of $7 per hour.

5. Radio Operator

Generally considered an easy and boring job, especially by those who handle the more back-breaking labor on an oil rig. On the other hand, it is a vital job, which explains the $60,000 salary.

6. Medic

Usually ex-nurses, responsible for the sick bay and medical supplies. Salary: up to $70,000.

7. RSTC (Rig Safety and Training Coordinator)

Required qualities:
  • Good communications
  • Good organizational skills
  • Computer skills
  • Knowledge of offshore safety laws
  • Knowledge of company policies
This post has a lot of responsibility, which explains the $80,000 salary for an entry level job. On the other hand, on some rigs, it can quickly become a mid or senior position - especially after a major accident, e.g. after the Alexander Kielland platform collapsed in 1980, or the explosion on Piper Alpha in 1988. Both were in the North Sea.

8. Mud Logger/Engineer

One of the few positions needing a university degree - usually a BSc in Chemistry. Responsible for the drilling fluids used, installing equipment and collecting samples during ongoing drilling. Their most important duty is probably to monitor the level of dangerous gasses which can cause the well to blow. This is why there are always 2 mud loggers - to cover the rig 24/7. Those who do well are quickly promoted to data engineer within a 1/2-year to 2 years. Salary? $70,000 - $80,000.

9. Storeman

Maintains the stores, orders and receives stocks. Needs to know how to use the computer. Unlike the comfortable post of an army storeman, an oil rig storeman may need to check incoming cargo even in the middle of the night. Salary: $60,000.

10. Painter

He paints the oil rig. This is not a job for someone afraid of heights. Some of those painting jobs need to be done while suspended from a harness hoisted by a crane. Considering how much iron and steel there is on an offshore oil rig, surrounded by all that salt water - there is always something which needs painting. Salary: $58,000.

11. Motorman

Helps the mechanic to maintain and repair all the machines, including the diesel generators and rig floor equipment. Like the painter, some of their repairs will be done suspended from a crane. Salary: $58,000.

12. Electrician

Maintains and repairs the electrical equipment on the oil rig. This includes changing the light bulbs. Like the painter and mechanic, some of his work will be done while hanging from a crane. Salary: $65,000.

These 12 jobs are generally considered entry level jobs on oil rigs. The roustabout and steward only needs minimal education, and does not require any kind of trade certification. The other positions need you to show some trade skill, or need a diploma (electrician) or degree (mud engineer).

About the Author

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