...Tomiwa Oladipo Published November 2022
Are you interested in becoming an oilfield roughneck? Understanding the duties, demands, and how to pursue this career is essential. In this article, find out all you need to know about a roughneck: their responsibilities, salary, becoming one, what it takes to succeed as a roughneck, and much more.
A roughneck or floorhand is a drilling crew member who works in highly physically demanding work conditions, under the driller's guidance, to make or break connections as the drill pipe trips in or out of the hole.
A roughneck is a manual laborer in the oilfield and performs a variety of tasks, such as:
They must also observe all safety protocols at the worksite.
Roughnecks need the following skills to excel in their careers:
A roughneck needs to have the following qualifications:
Usually, you don’t need a formal education to work as a roughneck. But some employers may require a high school diploma or an equivalent (GED) with a minimum grade point average.
But if you want to advance your career, earning an associate degree in petroleum technology or other related fields is a plus.
Roughnecks receive most of their training on the job. They learn the safety procedure and specific techniques for their role while working with experienced roughnecks. They also receive on-the-job instructions on how to operate specific equipment.
A roughneck is a manual laborer in the oilfield and doesn’t require special certifications but earning the following credentials will make you outstanding among other job seekers:
To work offshore, you need the following credentials:
Here’s what to do:
Most employers prefer roughnecks with a high school diploma or equivalent. Some schools also offer vocational programs that equip students with the necessary skills to work as roughnecks, such as rigging and welding.
You can still become a roughneck without a high school diploma if you’re up to 18 years old.
Aspirants without a high school diploma or equivalent can still become roughnecks once they complete an apprenticeship program. Usually, these programs are offered through local communities and colleges and last between one and three years.
Students that enroll in these programs will learn the basics of oilfield work, including site layout, safety procedures, and equipment use. The programs also offer aspirants experience in the field, giving them an advantage over those that don’t.
Most employers prefer candidates with prior experience over those without it.
Working as a roughneck requires operating equipment and driving large vehicles on the worksite. And as such, most employers require a Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL) from roughnecks.
Also, it’s essential to obtain hazardous materials permit for your CDL to work with chemicals and other dangerous substances.
Roughnecks are manual laborers on the drilling site and may need to move up to 100 pounds or more sized pieces of equipment or materials around the drilling site. So, being physically fit is essential to handle the job demands.
The O&G industry has zero tolerance for using hard drugs and alcohol, as these substances can negatively affect a worker's safety and performance.
Some employers conduct background tests on job applicants. Having a criminal record might disqualify you from becoming a roughneck.
Some job sites are located in remote areas with harsh, unpredictable conditions. Besides, roughneck jobs often require working around the clock and including tasks such as responding to emergencies or repairing equipment.
Once you’re comfortable working under all these conditions, you’re one step closer to becoming a roughneck.
The average yearly salary range for a precision drilling roughneck in the United States is approximately $68,380. The salary varies depending on the employer, location, education, job level, experience, and skills.
You don’t need formal qualifications to work as a roughneck. Prior experience as a roustabout or in shipbuilding, engineering, or construction is a plus.
With six months of relevant experience as a roustabout, you can be promoted to roughneck and earn up to $60,000 per year.
You can also opt-in for local apprenticeship programs to learn the basics of oilfield work, including site layout, safety procedures, and equipment use. These programs take between one to three years to complete.
Roughnecks, like Roustabouts, also handle maintenance and repair. The difference is that they work directly on the drill and drilling platform themselves.
Roughneck is a step higher than a Roustabout and therefore considered more skilled. Roughnecks may also be tasked with filling in for other positions.
Yes. The floor hand is also called roughneck.
The roughneck or floor hand reports directly to the Driller. They also assist other crew members in their duties and do other assigned duties.
For more information on becoming a roughneck or finding floor hand jobs, please don’t hesitate to contact our support team. We're happy to chat about how our global energy talent marketplace can help connect you with oil and gas companies actively hiring rig crew members.
You should also register here to access ongoing projects needing your skillset.