Career Development

What Does a Roustabout Do?

Find out what a Roustabout does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as a Roustabout.

The Roustabout role serves as the backbone of daily operations in the oil and gas industry, ensuring the smooth execution of tasks on drilling rigs and production platforms. Tasked with a broad array of responsibilities, these individuals are instrumental in maintaining the operational efficiency of exploration and extraction sites. From performing general maintenance and repairs to assisting in the setup and takedown of rigs, Roustabouts play an essential role in supporting their teams and contributing to the safety and productivity of their work environment. Their hands-on work not only facilitates the seamless progression of drilling operations but also upholds the integrity and longevity of the equipment and infrastructure critical to the industry’s success.

Roustabout Job Duties

  • Assemble and repair oil field machinery and equipment, utilizing hand and power tools to ensure operational efficiency.
  • Clean up spilled oil by spreading absorbent material or scooping collected oil into barrels for proper disposal.
  • Move supplies and equipment to the work site using forklifts or cranes, ensuring materials are ready for use.
  • Dig trenches, set braces to support the sides of excavations, and clean work areas to prepare sites for new construction or drilling.
  • Inspect equipment for safety and efficiency, identifying needs for maintenance or repairs to prevent accidents or downtime.
  • Paint drilling rigs and equipment, applying protective coatings to prevent rust and corrosion.
  • Guide cranes to move loads about decks, coordinating with crane operators for precise placement of heavy equipment.
  • Install and dismantle temporary structures like scaffolding or shacks, ensuring work sites are adapted to changing project needs.

Roustabout Salary & Outlook

Roustabout salaries are influenced by factors such as experience level, the size and financial health of the employing company, the complexity of the oil rig or drilling site, and the demand for oil. Additionally, hazardous working conditions and overtime requirements can significantly impact earnings.

  • Median Annual Salary: $46,725 ($22.46/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $103,500 ($49.76/hour)

The employment of roustabouts is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

This growth is driven by increasing global energy demands and the expansion of offshore drilling activities. Roustabouts, crucial for assembling, repairing, and maintaining oil field machinery and equipment, will be in higher demand to support these operations, ensuring efficient extraction and production processes in the oil and gas industry.

Roustabout Job Requirements

Education: A Roustabout position primarily requires a high school diploma, with a significant portion of candidates also having pursued some college courses. While specific majors are not mandatory, classes in physical sciences, mechanics, and technical drawing can be beneficial. This educational background supports the understanding of machinery, safety protocols, and basic engineering concepts crucial for the job. Advanced education is not typically necessary, emphasizing practical skills and foundational knowledge.

Experience: Roustabouts, primarily employed in the oil and gas industry, often start with no prior experience. A significant portion begins their career journey with hands-on, on-the-job training, learning the ropes directly in the field. This role may also involve participation in specific training programs designed to equip workers with the necessary skills for rig operations, safety protocols, and machinery handling. Experience in manual labor or mechanical tasks can be beneficial, though not mandatory, as employers typically provide comprehensive training to new hires.

Certifications & Licenses: Roustabout positions typically do not require specific certifications or licenses. However, possessing a Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET) certificate can be beneficial for offshore roles. Additionally, a valid driver’s license may be necessary for roles requiring operation of vehicles or equipment.

Roustabout Skills

Equipment Maintenance: Routine checks and repairs of drilling machinery are crucial for operational efficiency and safety on oil rigs. Roustabouts are instrumental in minimizing downtime and averting potential hazards by conducting maintenance work and resolving issues promptly.

Safety Compliance: Following strict protocols and regulations is necessary for the safety and efficiency of operations on oil rigs and drilling sites. Roustabouts contribute significantly to maintaining a safe working environment by inspecting equipment, wearing the right personal protective gear, and adhering to safety procedures.

Rigging Operations: The handling of drilling equipment requires precise coordination and manipulation of ropes, chains, and hoists. Roustabouts need a sharp eye for detail and a solid understanding of load dynamics to avoid accidents and ensure smooth operations on the rig.

Manual Labor: Engaging in physically demanding tasks, such as lifting heavy equipment and materials, as well as performing maintenance and cleaning duties, is a part of a roustabout’s job. It requires stamina, strength, and precision in using tools and machinery, along with the ability to work under various weather conditions while following safety protocols.

Hazard Recognition: Identifying safety risks and environmental hazards is a critical responsibility for roustabouts. They need to be vigilant, proactive in mitigating accidents, familiar with operational procedures, and quick to recognize and address non-standard conditions to maintain a safe and efficient work environment.

Pressure Systems Understanding: Knowledge of pressure systems, including reading and interpreting pressure gauges, is necessary for roustabouts. They must grasp the implications of pressure changes on drilling operations to manage equipment and materials safely, preventing accidents and equipment failures.

Roustabout Work Environment

Roustabouts work in the demanding environment of oil rigs and natural gas extraction sites, where the physical setting is predominantly outdoors, exposing them to various weather conditions. The workspace is characterized by heavy machinery and equipment, necessitating the use of protective gear, including helmets, gloves, and safety boots, to mitigate risks associated with the job.

Work hours for roustabouts are long and often include shifts that extend into nights and weekends, reflecting the continuous operation of extraction sites. The nature of the job requires a high level of physical stamina and the ability to work in a team, as tasks involve manual labor such as setting up equipment, maintenance, and ensuring the cleanliness of the site.

The environment is noisy due to machinery and equipment operation, demanding constant attention to safety protocols to prevent accidents. Despite the challenging conditions, the role offers opportunities for on-the-job training, leading to career advancement within the industry.

Advancement Prospects

A Roustabout, starting in the oil and gas industry, has a clear pathway for advancement, primarily moving towards positions such as Roughneck, Derrickman, and eventually Driller. Progression is performance-based, with hands-on experience being crucial.

To advance, a Roustabout should focus on mastering equipment maintenance, safety protocols, and operational procedures. Demonstrating leadership qualities and a strong work ethic can also accelerate career progression.

Specializing in areas like drilling operations or crane operations can open up specific roles such as Crane Operator or Drilling Supervisor. These specialized paths require a deep understanding of the machinery and operational tactics specific to the role.

Ultimately, consistent performance, a willingness to take on responsibility, and the ability to work under pressure are key to advancing from a Roustabout position in the oil and gas sector.


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