Off Shore Drilling Worker

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Metals & Mining

What you will do:

As a derrickhand, you could:

  • Handle and stack sections of the drill pipe
  • Maintain the derrick
  • Operate the lifting and hoisting machinery to position the drill
  • Control and maintain mud pumps, and supervise mud pump operators

As a driller, you could:

  • Supervise the drilling team and control the rate of drilling
  • Control operations on the drill floor
  • Oversee assembly of the drilling tools and connect sections of the drill pipe
  • Operate the drill control machinery
  • Keep records of the drilling process
  • Make sure the team follows health and safety rules


You’ll need:

  • The ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • To be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • To be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • The ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • Observation and recording skills
  • The ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations (leadership skills)
  • Physical skills like strength and coordination
  • The ability to work well with your hands
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming an offshore drilling worker, often referred to as an offshore drilling rig worker or oil rig worker, involves working on oil and gas platforms located in offshore waters. While there are no specific GCSE subjects that are absolutely required, there are certain subjects that can provide a foundation for skills and knowledge relevant to this career, such as:

  1. Mathematics: Offshore drilling workers need to perform calculations related to drilling operations, equipment maintenance, and safety protocols. Strong mathematical skills are important.
  2. Science (Physics or Chemistry): Understanding basic physics and chemistry principles is valuable for comprehending drilling processes, fluid dynamics, and chemical reactions involved in drilling operations.
  3. Engineering or Design and Technology: Basic knowledge of engineering principles, mechanics, and technical design can be helpful when working with drilling equipment and machinery.
  4. Physical Education (PE): Offshore drilling work can be physically demanding, requiring strength, stamina, and agility. Physical fitness is important for safety and job performance.
  5. Health and Safety or Environmental Science: Safety is a top priority on offshore platforms. Some knowledge of health and safety practices, as well as environmental regulations, can be valuable.
  6. Mechanical or Electrical Technology (Optional): Depending on the specific role, having some understanding of mechanical or electrical systems can be advantageous for equipment maintenance and troubleshooting.
  7. English: Effective communication skills are essential for following instructions, reporting incidents, and interacting with colleagues in a high-stakes work environment.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • A college course
  • An apprenticeship
  • Working towards this role
  • Applying directly

An engineering related course like a Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Engineering may help you to get started in this role.

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

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.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 53-55 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends/bank holidays.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, 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.