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roustabout working on an offshore oil rig

I had an interesting conversation last week with one of our readers, Sal from Louisiana, who works on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf. This is certainly a "dirty job" but I was impressed by how these places are actually self contained cities where as many as 200 people are living and working at any given time. Additionally, I had no idea how huge these rigs actually are. While I've seen them off the coast of California and we've cruised by them coming into the Mississippi, I didn't realize that these massive offshore oil platforms can stand almost 2,000 feet tall



Based on his passionate enthusiasm about the industry, I decided to look a bit deeper and share more about this industry and what it would be like working on offshore drilling platform. Whether you are looking for a second career or have a son (or daughter) looking for a job, this industry certainly seems like one with a bright future!

Here's what he shared with us ... 

Working on an offshore oil rig, your day is structured around alternating 12-hour shifts. It's a high-risk environment that requires extensive safety training. Living arrangements involve shared spaces, fostering a unique sense of camaraderie. Limited internet access is a reality, but crucial items, from snacks to entertainment, are provided to keep the team happy. Specialty training and medical readiness is also key, This is a very dangerous job and while there are helicopters to take folks back to shore - any serious emergency needs to be delt with right there on the rig itself.

That's why regular maintenance of safety equipment and practicing for a robust emergency response plan are requirements. Rewards? Considerable career growth opportunities, moving progressively from roustabout roles to higher, better-paying positions. You can even move from labor jobs to office roles as you get older, and most companies provide educational reimbursements so that you can learn new skills.

For any guys that might be interested in trying something new, my advice for them is to prepare to immerse yourself in an everyday life that's anything but ordinary as you further investigate working on a rig as a possible career path!

A Rig Worker's Daily Routine

An offshore oil rig worker's typical day is based around 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. This is often organized as two weeks on and three weeks off. Some guys refer to this as a 14/21 shift.

Workers usually alternate between long periods of work and rest. Adjusting to the demands of their job in a high-risk environment can be initially tough for some men but the benefits can be nice, knowing that you don't have to just rush to grab dinner and go to sleep so you can wake up again in a few hours.

Shared accommodations are common on offshore oil rigs, where workers live in close quarters with their colleagues. This fosters a strong sense of camaraderie among the crew as they navigate the challenges of working far from home. Many men come to the industry following military service, so this is a familiar experience for them.

Overcoming communication barriers is another key aspect of daily life on an offshore oil rig. While some of the guys may have come from small towns where they didn't know many people outside of their families, this can be a real eye-opener. Workers come from diverse backgrounds and may speak different languages, requiring them to find ways to communicate effectively to ensure safety and productivity.

Skills and Training Required for Offshore Oil Rig Jobs

Working on an offshore oil rig requires specialized training and a unique skill set to thrive in its challenging environment. However, there are plenty of entry-level positions and on-the-job training. Likewise, for Safety training is paramount, as you'll be working with heavy machinery and hazardous materials. Understanding and following safety protocols is crucial to prevent accidents and respond effectively in emergency situations.

With literally dozens of different jobs available on oil rigs, from doctors and nurses to housekeeping, the skills, training, and educational requirements obviously will have quite diverse requirements. However, to give you guys a sample, here are four of the most common labor jobs that men might consider if they want to work on an offshore oil rig.

Job TitleDescriptionRequired Skills and TrainingEducational Requirements
Roustabout Entry-level manual labor position, responsible for keeping the deck area clean and assisting in various operations
  • Physical fitness
  • Basic safety training (BST)
  • Familiarity with mechanical equipment
High School Diploma or equivalent
Derrickman Responsible for the drilling equipment and operations at a high position on the derrick.
  • Advanced rigging knowledge
  • Working at heights training
  • Well control certification
High School Diploma or equivalent
Mud Engineer Manages the properties of the drilling fluid (mud), crucial for drilling performance and safety.
  • Specialized training in fluid dynamics
  • Safety and environmental management training
Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry or related field
Toolpusher Senior management role, supervising the drilling crew and ensuring operations run smoothly.
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Advanced safety and emergency response training
High School Diploma; this role on a rig often requires further vocational training or an Associate's Degree

These roles vary widely in responsibilities, from general maintenance to specialized management, each requiring specific skills and training to ensure safety and efficiency on the rig.

Due to the rig's remote location, sea survival training is essential. A critical component of the training is being prepared to handle sea-related emergencies, such as abandoning the rig, using lifeboats, and surviving at sea until help arrives. Even though these offshore rigs aren't designed to move once they are put in place, they are essentially naval vessels and so standard marine training is essential for safe operation.

While not covered in typical resumes, roughnecks need to have a good constitution as well as an excellent sense of humor and a tough attitude. Everyone will have a bad day occasionally and this is a tough place that will test even the strongest man's ability to keep his stuff together.

Living Conditions on the Rig: A Unique Sense of Community

While the job may be demanding, the living conditions on the oil rig are thoughtfully designed to prioritize comfort and convenience for the workers. Accommodations are shared, fostering a strong sense of camaraderie among the crew. You'll have access to essential amenities to unwind after a long day, such as a well-equipped kitchen to prepare meals and a recreation area to relax and socialize.

Despite the remoteness of the rig, staying connected with the outside world is challenging but feasible. Limited internet access is available to maintain communication with loved ones and share your experiences. Living on an oil rig requires adaptability and resilience, but it also forges strong bonds and cultivates personal growth.

While this lifestyle may not appeal to everyone, for those who embrace the challenge, it offers a distinctive sense of belonging. The rig community is unlike any other, where you not only share a workspace but also living quarters, meals, and leisure time. It's an environment that, despite its difficulties, can transform into a second home for those willing to embrace its unique dynamics.

Risks and Safety Measures

Safety measures on an oil rig should always be a top priority for all personnel. Regular safety training is essential to ensure that everyone is aware of potential hazards and knows how to respond in case of an emergency. 

Personal protective equipment, such as hard hats, safety glasses, and fire-resistant clothing, should be worn at all times to minimize the risk of injury. Additionally, all equipment should be properly maintained and inspected regularly to prevent malfunctions that could lead to accidents. Emergency response plans should be in place, and drills should be conducted regularly to ensure that all personnel know how to react in different emergency situations. By prioritizing safety measures on an oil rig, the risk of accidents can be significantly reduced, creating a safer working environment for everyone involved.

While an oil rig may seem like a small city, it is actually one giant machine, and everyone will end up learning a little bit about everyone else's job and how various parts of the platform work. From checking a Kunkle valve to looking for cracks and stress points in pipes, constant vigilance is required for everyone to stay safe.

Implementing these safety measures requires a collaborative effort from all personnel on the oil rig. Communication is key to ensuring that everyone is on the same page regarding safety protocols and procedures. Encouraging a safety culture where all employees feel comfortable reporting hazards or unsafe conditions is crucial in preventing accidents. Regular safety meetings can also help keep safety at the forefront of everyone's minds and provide a platform for discussing any concerns or suggestions for improvement. By working together to prioritize safety measures on an oil rig, the entire team can contribute to a safer and more secure work environment.

Career Growth and Opportunities

Yes, a career on an offshore oil rig offers significant opportunities for growth and advancement. Starting as a roustabout, you can progress to roles such as driller, tool pusher, or installation manager with dedication and skill.

Each promotion not only increases your responsibilities but also boosts your salary. The oil industry values experience and expertise, allowing you to earn more as you learn.

Moreover, the challenges and duties of offshore work can enhance your marketability. Many companies provide training programs for skill development and certifications, offering pathways to roles in various oil industry sectors or emerging fields like renewable energy.


In sum, life on an offshore oil rig is tough but rewarding. You've got a packed schedule, rigorous training, and shared living quarters. Despite the risks, safety measures are strict.

Communication may be challenging, but crucial moments aren't missed. Your dedication keeps the rig running, and your efforts are well-compensated with good pay and career opportunities.

Remember, your skill and commitment are paramount in this demanding yet fulfilling job. Welcome to the life of an offshore oil rig worker.

Written by:
#MenWhoBlog MemberBlogging GuruThought Leader

James' passion for exploration and sense of duty to his community extends beyond himself. This means he is dedicated to providing a positive role model for other men and especially younger guys that need support so that they can thrive and be future positive contributors to society. This includes sharing wisdom, ideas, tips, and advice on subjects that all men should be familiar with, including: family travel, men's health, relationships, DIY advice for home and yard, car care, food, drinks, and technology. Additionally, he's a travel advisor and a leading men's travel influencer who has been featured in media ranging from New York Times to the Chicago Tribune, and LA Times. He's also been cited by LA Weekly "Top Travel Bloggers To Watch 2023" and featured by Muck Rack: "Top 10 Outdoor Journalists for 2022".

He and his wife Heather live in St Joseph, Michigan - across the lake from Chicago.