Career Development

What Does a Roustabout Do?

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

Roustabouts are the hardworking men and women who keep an oil rig running smoothly. They’re responsible for a wide range of tasks, from operating heavy equipment to maintaining pipelines and other equipment used in the drilling process.

Roustabouts typically work long hours under difficult conditions. They may spend days at a time working outdoors in all kinds of weather. The job is physically demanding and can be dangerous as well—there’s always the risk of an accident or injury when operating heavy machinery or performing other strenuous tasks.

Roustabout Job Duties

A roustabout typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Cleaning and maintaining equipment in order to ensure it performs properly
  • Inspecting equipment to ensure it is safe for use by other crew members
  • Operating heavy machinery such as bulldozers or forklifts to move materials
  • Drilling holes in the ground to prepare for construction using power tools such as drills and saws
  • Pumping oil from the ground using mechanical rigs and hand tools
  • Helping rig workers set up and take down equipment for drilling operations
  • Mixing, pouring, and spreading asphalt, concrete or other materials used in construction
  • Mixing and pumping chemicals into tanks for use in oilfield operations
  • Installing safety equipment such as fire alarms and sprinklers

Roustabout Salary & Outlook

The salary of a roustabout can vary depending on their level of experience, the company they work for, and the location of the job.

  • Median Annual Salary: $44,500 ($21.39/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $115,000 ($55.29/hour)

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

Roustabouts will be needed to install and maintain oil and gas pipelines, which require a large amount of work to maintain and repair. In addition, demand for natural gas is expected to increase as more pipelines are built to carry it across the country.

Related: Roustabout Interview Questions and Answers

Roustabout Job Requirements

A roustabout is a position that generally requires the following:

Education: Roustabouts typically need only a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some employers may prefer candidates who have completed a vocational program or an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

Training & Experience: Most roustabouts learn the specific skills and techniques they need for their role while on the job. Training for this role typically lasts for several weeks and includes instruction on how to operate machinery, how to handle materials and how to perform basic maintenance tasks. Training may also include instruction on safety procedures and regulations.

Some roustabouts may transfer skills learned in previous roles to apply them in their new job. For example, a laborer may transfer their knowledge of how to operate machinery and perform basic maintenance tasks to become a roustabout.

Certifications & Licenses: Though roustabouts do not need certifications to find work, they can earn these credentials to gain more experience and training within the industry.

Roustabout Skills

Roustabouts need the following skills in order to be successful:

Mechanical skills: Roustabouts often need to understand how to operate machinery and equipment. Mechanical skills can help you learn how to use tools and equipment safely and efficiently. You can also use your mechanical skills to repair and maintain equipment.

Physical stamina: Roustabouts often work outdoors in extreme weather conditions, so physical stamina is an important skill for this job. You may also be required to lift heavy equipment and materials, so having the ability to work for extended periods of time and lift heavy objects is important.

Problem-solving: A roustabout’s job can involve a variety of tasks, so it’s important to be able to adapt to new challenges. Being able to solve problems quickly can help you complete tasks efficiently and safely. For example, if you’re working on an oil rig and the equipment malfunctions, you may need to find a way to fix it.

Teamwork: Roustabouts often work with other members of a construction crew, so it’s important for them to be able to work well with others. They also often work with heavy machinery, so it’s important for them to be able to communicate with the equipment operators to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

Communication: Roustabouts communicate with their coworkers and supervisors to understand their duties and expectations. They also communicate with customers to answer questions and provide information about the company’s services. Communication skills are also important for reading and understanding safety regulations and operating equipment safely.

Roustabout Work Environment

Roustabouts typically work long hours, often more than 40 per week, and they may be required to work overtime on short notice. They also may be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their work is physically demanding, and they are exposed to inclement weather and hazardous materials. Roustabouts typically work outdoors on oil rigs, pipelines, or at natural gas processing plants. They may be required to travel long distances to work sites, sometimes in remote locations.

Roustabout Trends

Here are three trends influencing how roustabouts work. Roustabouts will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of the Oil and Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry is growing at a rapid pace, which is creating opportunities for roustabouts.

Roustabouts are essential to the oil and gas industry because they are responsible for installing and maintaining pipelines and other infrastructure. As the industry grows, so too will the need for roustabouts who can help keep it running smoothly.

More Work in Remote Locations

As the economy continues to improve, more and more businesses are looking to outsource their labor needs to save money. This has led to an increased demand for roustabouts who are willing to work in remote locations.

Roustabouts who are able to work in remote locations will be in high demand, as they will be able to provide businesses with the flexibility they need to stay competitive. In addition, roustabouts who are able to work in remote locations will be able to earn more money, as they will not have to pay for housing or other expenses associated with living near the job site.

A Growing Demand for Natural Gas

Natural gas is becoming increasingly popular as an energy source, due to its low cost and relative environmental friendliness. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years, leading to a growing demand for natural gas.

As a roustabout, you can capitalize on this trend by becoming certified in the installation and maintenance of natural gas systems. This will make you a valuable asset to companies that are switching to natural gas, and will put you in a position to take advantage of the increasing demand for this energy source.

How to Become a Roustabout

A roustabout career path can be a great way to start your working life. It’s a physically demanding job that requires hard work and dedication, but it can also be very rewarding. If you want to become a roustabout, the first thing you need to do is find an employer who is hiring. You can do this by searching online or in local newspapers for jobs in your area.

Once you have found a job, make sure you are prepared for the physical demands of the job. Roustabouts often have to lift heavy objects, so it’s important that you are physically able to do this. You should also be willing to work long hours and be on call when needed.

Advancement Prospects

Roustabouts typically start out as general laborers. With experience, they may be promoted to lead roustabout or supervisor positions. Some roustabouts may become interested in other occupations, such as equipment operator or mechanic, and may receive on-the-job training to qualify for these positions. Some roustabouts may also become safety coordinators.

Roustabout Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are in the business of making things run smoothly and efficiently for our clients. That’s where you come in. As a roustabout, you will be responsible for a variety of tasks to keep our operations running smoothly. These tasks may include but are not limited to: manual labor, maintenance and repair work, equipment operation, and general upkeep. The ideal candidate will be a hard worker with a can-do attitude and experience in a similar role. He or she will be able to work independently with little supervision and take direction well.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Erect and maintain derricks, masts, and other structures used in drilling operations
  • Connect and disconnect hoses, pipes, and other lines used to transport oil, gas, water, and other fluids associated with drilling
  • Operate pumps and compressors to circulate drilling fluid, remove drill cuttings, and control pressure in the well
  • Assist in rigging up and down of equipment and tools
  • Perform maintenance on equipment and tools
  • Clean and paint equipment, buildings, and other structures
  • Load and unload trucks, ships, and other vehicles
  • Dig ditches and trenches, and fill them with concrete, gravel, or other materials
  • Handle ropes, cables, and other lines used in drilling
  • Signal crane operators and other workers to guide movement of loads
  • Inspect work areas for hazards and communicate potential dangers to supervisors
  • Work long hours in all weather conditions

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Physically able to lift at least 50 pounds and work in challenging environments
  • Able to pass a drug test and background check
  • Valid driver’s license with clean driving record
  • Reliable transportation

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Some college coursework or degree
  • Previous experience working on an oil rig or in the oil and gas industry
  • Mechanical skills
  • First-aid certification
  • H2S Alive certification


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