Earth Drilling Career Information: Becoming an Earth Driller

Research the requirements to become an earth driller. Learn about the job description and read the step-by-step process to start a career in earth drilling.

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Do I Want to Be an Earth Driller?

Earth drillers are extraction workers who use drilling machinery and other heavy equipment to create holes in earth or rock to extract minerals, metals, water, oil or other substances. They may also drill holes to determine geological characteristics of a site or to prepare an area for explosives used in excavation projects. Protective gear must be used when working with drilling and other heavy machinery.

Career Requirements

Individuals interested in becoming earth drillers will generally need a bachelor's degree in geology or earth sciences, relevant work experience, and some states require licensing for certain types of drilling. The following table shows some common requirements to become an earth driller.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required or preferred by employers*
Degree Field Geology, earth sciences*
Licensure and/or Certification Commercial Driver's License*
Experience At least a year of drilling experience*
Key Skills Strong mechanical aptitude, ability to work effectively on teams, excellent written and spoken communication skills, positive attitude, safety conscious, manual dexterity, arm-hand steadiness**
Computer Skills Ability to generate reports*
Technical Skills Operational knowledge of truck-mounted drills and other drilling equipment**
Additional Requirements Pass background checks and drug screening, excellent driving record, ability to work in all types of weather conditions, be in good physical shape*
Salary $43,540 (Median annual salary for earth drillers)

Sources: * job postings from December 2012, **O*Net OnLine, ***Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Obtain An Education

According to December 2012 job postings on, employers preferred or required applicants to have bachelor's degrees in geology, earth sciences or a related major. Aspiring earth drillers may find these programs at many colleges and universities. Some earth science programs offer an emphasis in geology, with courses in mineralogy, sedimentology, stratigraphy, chemistry and geoscience.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Some employers sought driller trainees to supervise on-site drilling operations, maintain a list of on-site equipment and produce daily and weekly reports. These workers would also enforce all safety precautions and practices and remain up-to-date with all drilling system products and services.

Other earth driller jobs sought driller's assistants to help move, set up and operate drilling rigs and related equipment. These workers were also responsible for performing minor maintenance and repairs on equipment. Employers seeking more experienced earth drillers desired workers to develop and lead drilling operations and to oversee project management.

Step 3: Obtain a State License

Earth drillers may need a state or federal license to perform their work. For example, some employers require drillers to have commercial driver's licenses to operate heavy equipment, including driving truck-mounted drills from job sites. Workers who drill water wells may need a state license to perform their work.

Step 4: Pursue Industry Association Membership

Earth drillers interested in advancement and other career opportunities may consider membership in drilling industry trade groups, such as the National Drilling Association (NDA). The NDA promotes the use of professional drilling contractors and gives drillers the opportunity to network with other professionals and search for job opportunities. The association holds conventions and offers safety and training materials to industry professionals to continue their education.

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