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Offshore drilling worker Driller, assistant driller, derrickman

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Drillers, assistant drillers and derrickmen work on offshore oil or gas rigs.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £12,000 to £50,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need at least 2 years' experience and must be 18 or over.

You could get into the job through an apprenticeship.

To work offshore, you must pass an offshore survival and fire-fighting course, also known as emergency response training, or basic offshore induction and emergency training (BOSIET).

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • practical skills
  • the ability to follow and give instructions

3. What you'll do

As a derrickman, you'll work up to 25m above the rig floor on a platform attached to the derrick (the mast that supports the drilling equipment). You'll work under the supervision of the driller and assistant driller, and your tasks may 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, you'll supervise the drilling team and control the rate of drilling. Your tasks may include:

  • 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

As an assistant driller you'll coordinate the activities on the drill floor.

4. Salary

Starter: £12,000 to £20,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: £30,000 to £50,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll live and work on a rig or platform for 2 to 3 weeks, followed by 2 to 3 weeks' rest period on shore. You'll work up to 12 hours a day on a 24-hour shift rota.

You could work on a fixed production platform with up to 100 workers, or on a smaller mobile rig in a team of around 20. Facilities can include living accommodation, canteens and recreation areas. Alcohol and smoking are banned.

The job can be physically demanding, and involves working in all weathers and at height. You'll wear protective clothing, including a harness, ear defenders and a thermal boiler suit.

6. 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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Last updated: 02 April 2018