Offshore drilling workers work in a variety of roles on oil or gas rigs.

What does an offshore drilling worker do?

Offshore drilling workers work in a variety of roles on oil or gas rigs. You could be working as a driller, assistant driller or a derrickman. You’ll be looking after the drill and other tools used to explore and extract gas and oil from a well.

As a derrickman, you usually work 20 to 25 metres above the rig floor on a platform attached to the derrick (the mast that supports the drilling equipment). You work under the supervision of the driller and assistant driller.

As a driller, you supervise the drilling team and control the rate of drilling. Your work in this highly skilled role would include:

  • controlling operations on the drill floor
  • overseeing assembly of the drilling tools, and connecting sections of the drill pipe
  • operating and controlling the machinery that raises and lowers the drill
  • keeping records of the drilling process
  • making sure the whole team follows health and safety rules

As an assistant driller, it’s your job to coordinate the activities on the drill floor, for example by passing on instructions and information from the driller to the rest of the drilling team.

In this job, you’ll often be working away from home for weeks at a time. The job can be physically demanding so a good level of physical fitness is important. 

What do I need to do to become an offshore drilling worker?

Most people who enter this career have completed an apprenticeship, though this is not compulsory. Many people also have experience of working on the rigs as roustabouts or roughnecks.

You must be over the age of 18 to work on an oil or gas rig. To work offshore, you must pass an offshore survival and firefighting course, also known as emergency response training, or basic offshore induction and emergency training (BOSIET).

Related skills

  • Ability to understand technical plans
  • Discipline
  • Leadership
  • Physical fitness

Related subjects

  • Chemistry
  • Maths
  • Physics

Essential qualifications

  • Over 18 years of age
  • Offshore survival training

Desirable qualifications

  • Apprenticeship

Where could I be working?

You will mostly be working outdoors, as part of a large company. You will be working away from home for weeks at a time.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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