How to Become an Apprentice on an Offshore Oil Rig

Find out how to become an apprentice on an offshore oil rig. Research the training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career as an apprentice on an offshore oil rig.

Should I Become An Apprentice on an Offshore Oil Rig?

Apprentices working on offshore oil rigs perform a variety of entry-level work learned through on-the-job training. These types of positions include general laborers known as roustabouts and rotary-driller helpers known as roughnecks. They require working in remote locations, living in isolated and challenging conditions, putting in long hours and performing physically challenging tasks.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma preferred but not required
Experience Basic knowledge of oil rig operations and equipment
Key Skills Excellent physical condition, good eye-hand coordination, strong attention to detail, interpersonal skill, basic mechanical skills, heavy equipment operation
Salary $35,780 per year (Median salary for roustabouts)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May, 2014); job postings in December 2012

Step 1: Seek Training in Offshore Oil Rig Operations

Individuals interested in becoming apprentices on offshore oil rigs may first want to seek training programs related to oil rig operations.These programs are intended for potential oil rig workers as well as for others who need a basic understanding of the work involved in offshore oil rig operations. They are offered at only a few universities and community colleges and cover subjects such as offshore exploration, drilling, offshore regulations, maritime and state law, and emergency responses. Other programs cover topics such as safety, rig systems and components, CPR, basic electrical skills and more.

Step 2: Pursue Apprenticeship Programs

A handful of community colleges offer apprenticeship programs for jobs related to offshore oil rig operations. Individuals may pursue boilermaker apprenticeships, programs that teach them the metal fabricating skills needed to build and repair offshore drilling platforms. Apprenticeships in pile driving teach an occupation essential to offshore oil rig construction. These apprenticeship programs take three or four years to complete.

Step 3: Seek Employment On An Offshore Oil Rig

Help wanted ads for offshore oil rigs may be viewed at numerous web sites. If you lack a specific skill such as welding or metal fabricating, starting jobs will be at entry-level. These types of entry-level jobs require physical, mental and manual dexterity, and the ability to work long days. Applicants must pass drug screening and physical assessment tests. Some employers also required that they be able to read, write and speak English to understand verbal and written instructions.

Step 4: Advance Your Career By Becoming Certified For Offshore Oil Rig Work

Another way for individuals to prepare for offshore oil rig jobs is to obtain formal training from a certification program like those accredited by the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC). These certification programs prepare individuals for work as floorhands or roughnecks in the oil or gas industry. Students learn about operational requirements at drilling sites and about safe working practices.

Successful completion of an accredited training program earns the worker a certificate of completion. The Association's UBO Rig Pass program, is being discontinued, but will be replaced by the IADC Introductory/Fundamental UBO WellCAP program in the near future.

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