Roughneck Jobs: Oil Drilling Jobs & Roughneck Employment Back to Articles


In the oil industry the term roughneck applies to oil field employees who work around a land based rig. Roughneck used to be used for a variety of jobs that involved hard, physical labor but is now more associated with oil jobs. In Alberta Canada where oil and gas jobs are thriving due to the discovery of major oil fields, and investment is pouring in from countries such as China, roughneck employment is on the rise. If you’re looking for work as a roughneck in the oil industry read on to learn more about what to expect in terms of working conditions, pay scale and requirements for landing a job as an oil field roughneck.

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First off, roughnecks are generally considered the “grunts” of an oil rig. While the pay is usually good the work is long and physically demanding. People who start out as roughnecks on a land based rig often get promoted to motorman or Derrick Hand that involves more responsibility and higher pay. But when starting a career in the oil industry expect to do some really hard work as a roughneck first.

Though roughnecks are among the low men in the oil field pecking order, just above a leasehand, roughnecks are essential laborers to the operation of an drilling rig.  Duties one can expect when working as a roughneck include oil spill clean up, mechanical tasks involving the rig. Checking the oils and most manual jobs associated with the day-to-day performance and maintenance of a land based rig. Roughneck shifts are long, involve working in all kinds of weather and conditions and also require mechanical skills and the ability to use and fix a wide variety of tools.

Other tasks you might expect when working as a roughneck include: assisting in setting up and taking down drilling and service rigs and service equipment, maintaining drilling equipment on the drill floor and the unloading and loading of large trucks to transport materials and service equipment. You need a solid background in mechanical systems, have good knowledge of hand tools and power tools including how to repair equipment and have a working understanding of the oil industry to qualify for a typical oil roughneck job.

While roughneck wages vary depending on the contractor or petroleum corporation that is hiring, you can expect a starting wage anywhere between $60,000 to $90,000,depending on how much you are willing to work. Because of the recent discoveries of oil in Alberta Canada this is a great location to look for roughneck jobs as new land based oil rigs need plenty of skilled manual laborers to keep the oil flowing.

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