Growth Trends for Related Jobs

How to Get A Job In The Oilfield Overseas Working On a Rig

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Those with a strong mechanical background and an interest in physically demanding work may want to consider overseas oilfield jobs. Before making your decision, it helps to learn as much about the oil and gas industry as possible, as well as the different roles that oil rig workers play.

Job Description

Offshore oil rig workers are responsible for maintaining and controlling oil rigs, the apparatus constructed for drilling oil. Rig operators work in a variety of roles, and their tasks may include, but are not limited to: controlling operations on the drill floor; overseeing the assembly of drilling tools and machinery; coordinating activities and workers on the drill floor; general clean-up labor tasks; and more. The job is physically rigorous and requires being away from home, often for weeks at a time.

Education Requirements

Typically, oil jobs overseas require no experience and very little formal schooling. Rig operators need to have at least a high school diploma or a GED and possess an in-depth knowledge of tools and machinery. Of course, if life circumstances allow, rig workers may want to consider going back to school to obtain a bachelor's degree in mechanical or electrical engineering, environmental science, geology or other related field. Some universities also offer petroleum engineering degree programs or associate's degree programs designed to train students in how to operate oil drills.

Rig workers who want to work overseas should sign up for a Basic Offshore Safety Induction Emergency Training (BOSIET) course, which is designed for all personnel employed on offshore installations. Several marine academies and occupational safety schools offer BOSIET courses. In addition to education requirements, aspiring oil rig workers should be in excellent physical condition, as the job often requires you to perform physically strenuous tasks and maintain a demanding 24/7 schedule.


Overseas oilfield jobs run the gamut from driller to assistant driller to derrick worker, and each person plays a vital role in maintaining and controlling the rig. Entry-level workers often start out doing general labor tasks, such as cleaning and preparing equipment. They can then work up to being the pump person or a derrick worker, and may even be eventually promoted to assistant driller or driller. Overseas oil rig workers have a variety of opportunities to advance in their field.

Years' of Experience and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, derrick operators made an annual median salary of $47,630 in May of 2018. This means that half of all workers in the field made more than this, while the other half made less. Salary data vary across the industry, with data broken up into three categories: support activities for mining, oil and gas extraction and utility system construction:

  • Support Activities for Mining: Percent of industry employment: 3.19; annual mean salary: $47,720.

  • Oil and Gas Extraction: Percent of industry employment: 0.56; annual mean salary: $48,410.

  • Utility System Construction: Percent of industry employment: 0.02; annual mean salary: $39,500.

Related jobs include working as a petroleum engineer, offshore roustabout or geological or petroleum technician. The rigs themselves are owned and operated by a drilling contractor, who's responsible for winning bids from exploration companies. Salary information varies widely among these professions.

Job Growth Trend

The states with the highest employment level in this occupation include Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, California and North Dakota, according to the BLS. While employment projection data aren't available specifically for overseas oil workers, the BLS does estimate that higher prices could cause oil and gas companies to increase capital investment in new facilities and expand existing production operations. This is favorable news for rig workers and others in the oil and gas industry.

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Justine Harrington is a writer based in Austin, Texas. Her work has been published in Forbes, USA Today, Fodor's, American Way, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, Texas Highways, Austin Monthly, and dozens of other print and online publications.