How to Become an Apprentice on an Offshore Oil Rig

Mar 05, 2020

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.

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Be an Offshore Oil Rig Apprentice

Offshore oil rig apprentices 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. Working on an offshore oil rig may require working in remote locations, putting in long hours and performing physically challenging tasks.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent preferred but not required
Experience Basic knowledge of oil rig operations and heavy equipment operation
Key Skills Excellent physical condition, good eye-hand coordination, strong attention to detail, basic mechanical knowledge, interpersonal skills
Salary $37,580 per year (2018 median for roustabouts)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2018), job postings in December 2012

Seek Training

Individuals interested in becoming apprentices on offshore oil rigs may first want to find 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.

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 metal fabricating skills needed to build and repair offshore drilling platforms. They may also look into piledriver apprenticeships, programs that cover construction skills needed to provide foundation support to a variety of structures, including offshore oil rigs. These apprenticeship programs take three or four years to complete.

Seek Employment

Help wanted ads for offshore oil rigs may be viewed at numerous websites. If you don't have a specific skill, such as welding or metal fabricating, starting jobs will typically be as entry-level roustabouts. 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 applicants be able to read, write, and speak English to understand verbal and written instructions.

Advance Your Career

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 in the oil or gas industry. The IADC RigPass program teaches new employees about safe working practices in the oil rig industry. For more experienced workers, the IADC WellCAP program provides proper training for well control and drilling practices. Successful completion of an accredited training program earns the worker a certificate of completion.

Remember that offshore oil rig apprentices often start out in entry-level positions unless they first acquire skills through training and apprenticeship programs.

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