Roustabout/Roughneck Careers

How to become a Roustabout/Roughneck

What does a Roustabout/Roughneck do?

Roustabouts and roughnecks are based on offshore facilities such as oil or gas rigs or drilling platforms, working as part of a team of up to 20 people. They will generally require prior training in oil and gas operations.

Roustabouts undertake labouring tasks that help to maintain the drilling area. These include:

  • cleaning, scraping and painting the deck, equipment and work areas
  • offloading supplies from boats and moving them to storage areas
  • moving supplies and equipment to the work site
  • using lifting gear and winches to load and stack equipment
  • general work in the pump room, for example helping to repair mud pumps
  • mixing and conditioning the lubricants ('drilling mud') for the drill bit.
Most of the work is carried out under the supervision of a lead roustabout.

Roughnecks carry out more skilled duties related to the actual drilling operation:
  • adding fresh lengths of drill pipe as the drill moves deeper into rock
  • inserting and extracting the whole drill
  • cleaning, maintaining and repairing the drilling equipment
  • using lifting gear, ropes and winches to carry out the above tasks.

Most of the work is carried out under supervision of an assistant driller.

What's the working environment like working as a Roustabout/Roughneck?

Roustabouts and roughnecks work up to 12 hours a day on a 24- hour shift rota. They normally work on a rig or platform for two or three weeks, followed by two or three weeks’ rest period ashore.

Oil drilling rigs are small, mobile structures; production platforms are larger, accommodating 50 to 100 workers, where facilities include cabins, canteens, recreational facilities and offices. Alcohol and smoking are banned. Working on a rig or platform can be physically demanding, working in all types of weather, often very cold, and at heights.

Roustabouts and roughnecks are likely to wear protective clothing, which includes eye protection, harnesses, hard hats, gloves, ear defenders and thermal boiler suits.

What does it take to become a Roustabout/Roughneck?

To be a roustabout or roughneck you should:

  • have good practical skills
  • be able to live and work as a member of a team
  • be prepared to live and work away from home
  • be assertive and able to follow instructions
  • be aware of health and safety issues
  • be physically fit
  • be willing to learn
  • have basic computer skills for recording information.

Roustabout/Roughneck Career Opportunities

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Roustabout/Roughneck that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Cogent (Sector Skills Council for Chemicals, Nuclear, Oil and Gas, Petroleum and Polymers)
Minerva House
Bruntland Road
AB12 4QL
Tel: 01224 787800

Westhill Business Centre
Arnhall Business Park
AB32 6UF
Tel: 0870 870 4564

Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB)
Blue Court
Church Lane
Kings Langley
Tel: 01923 260 000

Facts and Stats:

  • The world produces 9.5m tonnes of oil every day
  • Christmas tree lights were introduced by Edison General Electric Co in 1901
  • A drop of water may travel thousands of miles between the time it evaporates into the atmosphere and the time it falls to the earth again as rain, sleet, or snow

Similar careers

Find Oil & Gas Operations courses near you