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Oilfield Job Description

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Oilfields deal with the extraction of oil from land-based sources. While there are less and less of these in the USA as patches dry up, they are still far from nonexistent. Oil workers can expect to work long, hard hours but be compensated extremely well in relation to their level of skill. What's more, they can transfer these skills to more lucrative offshore rigs in the future if they so desire.


Oil field are large, complex organisms that require a large amount of workers and a great deal of specialized skills. However, they also require an equally large amount of entry-level or unskilled workers to do the basic work around the field.

What this means is that essentially anyone who is fit, strong, and able to work long hours can work on an oil field. The entry-level oil worker can find himself doing a number of jobs related to the oil field. These include cleaning tanks and building roads around the field.

There are also a number of trade jobs like welding and construction and professional jobs like geologist. There are also industry-specific jobs, which are detailed below.

Oil Fields

Oil drilling work is divided into two subsets: fields and rigs. Rigs are on the ocean, while fields are on land. This means that there are two remarkably different sets of working conditions; while rig workers need to live on site for days or weeks at a time, field workers can travel to and from the field like any other job.

However, this means that a field worker needs a place to live while he is working--while accommodation is sometimes provided, it is not a given like it is on a rig.

Specialized Field Employment

There are certain skill sets that are only applicable on an oilfield. These are the drilling jobs. The drill operator runs the drill and supervises the crew around it, while the engine operator supervises and runs the engine that powers the drill.

The most common drilling job, however, is the culturally eponymous roughneck. These guide the pipe that the oil will flow through into the drilling hole, attaching pieces together as they go down to the underground oil.

These jobs are generally trained for on-the-job. That is, a roughneck will usually start as a roustabout and go on to become an engine operator or drill operator.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the oil field employment outlook is not positive. While demand for oil is rising around the world, new technologies are also on the rise, many of which are making oil workers redundant. What's more, U.S. drilling is becoming more and more difficult as patches dry up and the public and federal government oppose further exploration.


The compensation for oilfield workers is, however, very generous. General laborers at the bottom of the hierarchy still make an average of $15.21 per hour in oilfields. Drill operators make an average of $22.01, and low-level supervisory positions make an average of $31.58 per hour .Finally, general and operations managers make an impressive $53.57 per hour.

These wages are impressive for non-professional positions. They are wages achieved purely through hard work, seniority and on-the-job training, which makes oil working good work if you can get it.


Sam Grover began writing in 2005, also having worked as a behavior therapist and teacher. His work has appeared in New Zealand publications "Critic" and "Logic," where he covered political and educational issues. Grover graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Arts in history.