Choosing a career in oil exploration can introduce you to a rewarding and challenging occupation that offers a wealth of opportunities for career development and progression. Working on an oil rig can be physically and mentally demanding, but the rewards in pay and conditions are some of the highest in heavy industry. On-rig accommodation includes all food and laundry as well as hotel-standard board, and travelling costs are also covered by the employer. The work schedule is arranged around a 14/21-day rotation where employees work for 14 days and then have 21 days off before their next shift.
Starting a career in the industry is usually done by working on an onshore oil field and then progressing to offshore oil rig jobs. Once you have experience in a particular discipline onshore, you can then move on to better paid drilling jobs and off-shore positions. Drilling jobs fall into several categories depending on experience and qualifications with the highest paid being the position of driller. This is a high-level responsibility position and the driller is responsible for activities on and above the rig floor, including operating the drilling equipment. General salaries for drillers are around £46,000/year.
Working under the supervision of the driller are Derrickmen and ‘Roughnecks’. Derrickmen operate the pumping mechanism and other machines used in the pump room of the rig. They also assist the Roughnecks on the drill floor and spend much of their time on the drilling tower or ‘Derrick’ (hence the term Derrickmen). Average salary for a Derrickman is £35,000. Roughnecks generally work on the rig floor and have an average salary of £28,000. Their duties include maintaining and operating the machines and equipment used for the drilling operation, so experience in welding and mechanics is highly sought after in these positions. All of these hands-on drilling jobs are physically demanding and require a good background in a wide range of disciplines including working with chemicals, radio operators, heavy engineering and mechanical engineering techniques.
The drilling on the oil rig is carried out by the ‘Roustabout’. They operate alongside the Roughnecks and also take responsibility for a variety of other operations including unloading supplies from support vessels and servicing well units. Average salary for a Roustabout is approximately £25,000.
There are plenty of other opportunities in oil rig jobs, from engineering through to catering. Platforms are small communities, so every eventuality has to be catered for as contact with the outside world can be sporadic, particularly if weather conditions prevent transport from the mainland reaching the rig. Wages may change with the position of the rig, depending upon whether the rig is located overseas or domestically.
Despite the current global economic crisis, oil rig jobs are still some of the most sought after positions in engineering. The world dependency on oil resources means that new platforms and drilling operations are being developed, including the massive Sea Dragon drilling platform and the continuing operation to dismantle and recycle platforms that have ceased production such as the North West Hutton oil platform. The industry is constantly looking for new deposits and those who are prepared to work hard and have the relevant skills and experience are very much in demand by the industry. Choosing an oil job could be a very attractive option for a workforce that could otherwise find it difficult to locate jobs in other areas of heavy engineering.