Mining, Energy & Utilities

Oil & Gas Drilling Worker

Drillers move, set up and operate drilling rigs and related equipment on offshore facilities such as oil or gas rigs or drilling platforms.

  • Entry-level education

    VET qualification

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does an Oil & Gas Drilling Worker do?

Drillers move, set up and operate drilling rigs and related equipment on offshore facilities such as oil or gas rigs or drilling platforms.


Work activities

As a driller, you would supervise the drilling team and control the rate of drilling. Your work in this highly skilled role would include:

  • check that drills have been set up properly
  • oversee assembly of the drilling tools, and connecting sections of the drill pipe
  • position drills and set angles and depths
  • start and stop drill operations and coordinate other drilling workers on site
  • operate and controlling the machinery that raises and lowers the drill
  • operate secondary equipment, such as pumps (air and mud) and equipment used to prevent and correct problems
  • keep records of the drilling process and take core drill samples
  • making sure that the drilling team follows health and safety rules.

Key skills and interests

To become an oil & gas drilling worker, you would need:

  • good practical skills
  • willingness to live and work away from home
  • good leadership and teamwork skills
  • the ability to follow and give instructions
  • good physical fitness
  • strong awareness of health and safety.

Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

Oil & gas drilling workers typically live and work on a drilling rig or platform for several weeks, followed by the same amount of time as a rest period onshore. On a drilling rig you would work up to 12 hours a day, on a roster system.


You could work on a fixed production platform, or on a smaller mobile rig. Facilities can include living accommodation, canteens and recreation areas. Alcohol and smoking are banned on these structures.

The job can be physically demanding, working in all types of weather conditions and at heights. You would need to wear protective clothing, including a harness, ear muffs and a thermal boiler suit.


How to become an Oil & Gas Drilling Worker?

Entry Level Education

You would normally be promoted into this job after first working with the drilling crew as a roustabout and / or roughneck. You will usually need at least two years’ experience and be aged 18 or over to apply for jobs.

Most oil & gas drilling workers would be required to have a VET qualification such as a Certificate in Drilling (Mining & Engineering). To get into these courses, you usually need to have gained your junior secondary school certificate or equivalent.


Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Little growth in employment opportunities for oil & gas drilling workers is expected over the next five to ten years.

Future employment prospects for this occupation are largely dependent on oil prices. Oil prices stimulate the drilling of new oil and gas fields and the re-drilling of existing fields. Lower oil prices limit or suspend this activity.

Global economic growth and oil and gas supply projections currently suggest that supplies will satisfy demand for the near to medium term. Employment prospects will vary by region.


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