Offshore drilling worker

Driller, assistant driller, derrickhand

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Offshore drilling workers drill for undersea oil and gas on offshore rigs.

Salary range: £12,000 to £50,000

How to become an offshore drilling worker

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly


You may be able to do an engineering operative intermediate apprenticeship before applying to work on offshore rigs.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information


You could start as a roustabout on a rig and learn on the job before moving into drilling work.

Direct application

You can apply directly to offshore oil and gas companies if you’ve got experience in an industry like engineering or construction.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about working in the offshore oil and gas industry from MyOilandGasCareer.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • observation and recording skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a derrickhand, your duties will include:

  • handling and stacking sections of the drill pipe
  • maintaining the derrick
  • operating the lifting and hoisting machinery to position the drill
  • controlling and maintaining mud pumps, and supervising mud pump operators

As a driller, your duties will include:

  • supervising the drilling team and controlling the rate of drilling
  • controlling operations on the drill floor
  • overseeing assembly of the drilling tools and connecting sections of the drill pipe
  • operating the drill control machinery
  • keeping records of the drilling process
  • making sure the team follows health and safety rules

Working environment

You could work on a rig.

Your working environment may be cramped, physically demanding, at height, outdoors in all weathers and you may spend nights away from home.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

You could work for operating companies with their own exploration and production licences, or for drilling and maintenance contracting companies.

With experience, you could be promoted from driller to toolpusher or rig manager.

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