Different workers perform different tasks on oil rigs. Derrick operators rig derricks and operate equipment to extract oil from the earth, while roustabouts assemble and repair oil rig equipment. Just as their jobs differ, so do their salaries. In general, derrick operators earn a higher wage than roustabouts but salaries for both jobs fall into a wide range.
Average Derrick Operator Wages
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that derrick operators earned average wages of $48,830 per year or $23.48 per hour as of May 2013. The median wage was $22.64 per hour or $47,090 per year, meaning that half of workers earned more than this and half earned less. Derrick workers in the oil and gas extraction industry earned average incomes of $49,690 per year.
Derrick Operator Range
The top 75 percent of derrick operators made at least $27.40 per hour or $56,980 per year in 2013, according to the BLS. For the top 90 percent of earners this rate jumped to at least $32.64 per hour or $67,900 per year. The bottom 25 percent of earners made $18.58 or less per hour, equal to $38,660 or less per year. The bottom 10 percent of earners made $15.56 per hour or less, which is equivalent to $32,370 or less per year. As of 2013 the best paying state for oil rig workers was Montana, where the average wage was $62,490 per year. The state with the most derrick workers was Texas, where the average wage was $48,690 per year.
Average Roustabout Salaries
Roustabouts earned average wages of $17.39 per hour or $36,170 per year in 2013, according to the BLS. The median wage for roustabouts was $16.62 per hour or $34,560 a year. The average income for those in the oil and gas extraction industry was $36,330 a year.
Outside the Roustabout Norm
As with derrick operators, not all roustabouts earn typical wages. The BLS reports that the top 10 percent of roustabouts earned $53,170 a year or more in 2013, while the bottom 10 percent earned $22,850 or less. Among the states, roustabouts in Alaska earned the highest average wages at $48,370 per year. Montana ranked second at $46,570 per year, followed by North Dakota at $44,290. The state with the most roustabout jobs, Texas, paid $34,010 a year on average.