How to Become an Offshore Drilling Worker

Offshore drilling workers work in the oil and gas industry. They work in teams of up to 20 people on oil and gas rigs or drilling platforms. If you can follow instructions closely, possess strong teamwork skills and love practical work, this is a career you may enjoy.

What Do Offshore Drilling Workers Do?

Offshore drilling workers can work as derrrickmen, assistant drillers or drillers.

Derrrickmen work around 25 meters above the rig floor on the platform attached to the derrick. They:

  • Maintain the derrick
  • Stake sections of the drill pipe
  • Operate hoisting and lifting machinery
  • Service and control mud pumps
  • Supervise mud pump operators

While assistant drillers coordinate activities on the drill flow, drillers perform the following duties:

  • Oversee drill floor operations
  • Control the level of the drill
  • Supervise assembling of drilling equipment and parts of the drill pipes
  • Keep records of the drilling process
  • Enforce health and safety regulations

Work Environment

Offshore drilling workers typically work for 14 to 21 days followed by 14 to 21 days off duty. The shifts cover 12 hours a day.

The job is physically demanding since they work in all weather conditions, handling heavy equipment and working at heights. While at work, these professionals wear protective clothing such as ear defenders and thermal boiler suits to avoid injuries.

If you love staying close to your family, then you might have to rethink your career choices. Offshore drilling workers normally spend several weeks at a time away from their families.


The salaries for offshore drilling workers vary with experience and employer. However, the typical salaries can be seen below:

Level of experience

Annual pay


£12,000 - £20,000


£25,000 - £30,000

Experienced drillers

£30,000 - £50,000

Source: National Careers Service

Entry Requirements

To become an offshore drilling worker, you can:

  • Work as a roustabout and roughneck for at least two year’s and apply for a promotion to offshore drilling – You must be aged 18 and over.
  • Join an apprenticeship scheme - You will need least four GCSEs (A-C). The required subjects include English, math, science and design or technology.
  • Apply for a place on OPITO’s Transition Training Program– This path is only appropriate if you have a background in the shipbuilding, construction industry or the armed forces.

Important Skills and Abilities

To become a successful offshore worker, you should have:

  • Excellent practical and teamwork skills
  • Good record keeping skills
  • A high level of manual dexterity
  • The ability to follow instructions and procedures closely
  • An awareness of workplace health and safety issues

Training and Development

After getting a job, you will go through an onshore training program covering the following areas:

  • Health and safety
  • Manual handling
  • Helicopter and helideck safety
  • Banksman slinging
  • Working with hazardous substances
  • Working at heights

Successful completion of this training should lead you to yet another course known as offshore survival and fire-fighting or basic offshore induction and emergency training (BOSIT). At this point, you are ready to work offshore.

To enhance your chances of moving a step ahead in your career, you can pursue courses in rigging and crane lifting operations.

Job Opportunities

Qualified offshore drilling workers are hired by:

  • Licensed companies that engage in oil and gas drilling activities - In the UK, many of these companies are based off the east coast of Scotland and England, as well as west of the Shetland Islands.
  • Drilling and maintenance contracting companies.

After gaining vast job experience, you could become a toolpusher or rig manager.

Visit the following links for more information on this career:

Oil and Gas are some of the most highly sought after resources on the planet and there is always a need for qualified people to help with their extraction. As such this is an industry which is going to continue to grow and employ people for many years to come. If you are talented, then you can get employed anywhere in the world.

Finally, the oil and gas industry is quite lucrative. By pursuing this career, you will be able to reap the monetary rewards that come with it. You should, however, brace yourself for some tough and physically challenging tasks. But if you think you have what it takes then this may be the right career for you.




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