Picking a career is never easy, especially in today’s uncertain job market. Yet there are still plenty of opportunities for those who are willing to look slightly further afield.
While a job in offshore oil drilling might not immediately leap to mind when considering viable career paths, for some people it may be ideal. For those who are hard-working and determined the rewards and the lifestyle can be enviable. Read on to find out if a career in offshore drilling is for you, and how you can get a job in the oil industry with no previous job experience.
What is a roustabout?
A roustabout is the first rung of the career ladder in the offshore drilling industry. Roustabouts perform all of the basic maintenance and heavy manual labour aboard an oil rig. If you want to pursue a career on offshore oil rigs, this will be your very first job title. Roustabout jobs require you to perform many different functions – one day you might be painting and cleaning the rig, the next you may be moving heavy equipment or fixing machinery.
As an entry level position, roustabouts will naturally have to do much of the most strenuous and dirty work on the rig, but there is plenty of room for advancement. Virtually everyone you meet on an oil or gas rig started their career in an offshore roustabout job.
Who can become a roustabout?
No formal qualifications are needed to get a job as a roustabout. What is required is a hard-working attitude, a certain level of strength and physical fitness and the ability to work long shifts in all weather conditions. This makes offshore roustabout jobs ideal for those with intelligence and drive but who have left school with few academic qualifications. It is also suitable for someone seeking a change in career and who is willing to work their way up. As long as you’re over 18 and are at least 5’5″ tall, you can apply for a job as a roustabout. Other than this the most important thing is that you’re willing to work hard in often tough conditions.
What’s the money like, and what hours will I do?
As an entry-level position, an offshore roustabout job is particularly well paid – roustabouts can earn upwards of US$50,000. You’ll have to work long hours and spend extended periods of time away from your family, but the general shift pattern that oil rigs keep to can mean that you’re earning a substantial income while only working for half the year. A common shift pattern for offshore roustabout jobs is to work 12 hours on then have 12 hours off, for a period of 3-4 weeks, followed by an equal amount of time off work.
What opportunities are there for career advancement?
After spending time in your initial role as a roustabout there is plenty of scope for moving forward in your career to larger salaries and more skilled jobs. There are several different career paths open to those who have gained experience at entry level position. If you work hard and show initiative it is possible to get promoted to ‘roughneck’ within your first year as a roustabout. Roughnecks carry out more technical duties within the drilling team such as adding drill pipes, extracting and inserting the drill, and repairing the drilling equipment. From here you can go on to eventually become a driller or crane operator – top jobs aboard an oil rig. With experience, hard work and training, it is entirely possible to become a fully fledged driller within five years.
Oil has always been big business and with global demand still growing, it’s unlikely that there will be a shortage of opportunities for offshore workers in the foreseeable future.
Where do I sign up to become a roustabout?
To apply for offshore roustabout jobs you can either contact oil companies directly or sign up with a recruitment agency specialising in offshore rig jobs. The latter is probably the better option as such agencies know what the drilling companies expect in prospective roustabouts and how to get your CV to the right people.
Often, certain certifications, such as medical certificates and emergency survival certificates are required for anyone working on a rig, but many companies will pay for you to obtain these.
Offshore roustabout jobs are certainly not for everyone, and can be gruelling at times, but for some people they are a highly lucrative first step in a lifelong career.