Job Description of a Drilling Supervisor

Sep 21, 2019

Drilling supervisors are in charge of the drill operators at a mine, quarry, or extraction site, where they make sure that drilling work is completed properly and on schedule. A drilling supervisor often works alongside of a management team while the planning of a project's operations is being developed.

Essential Information

A drilling supervisor works for companies that are involved in the extraction of oil or precious minerals. The primary responsibility of a drilling supervisor is to oversee the work of drilling operators, as well as work closely with management to develop operational plans. A college degree is not required; however, some employers prefer candidates with an associate's or bachelor's degree in drilling technology, mechanical engineering technology or some other associated area.

Required Education Varies by employer; associate's or bachelor's degree in drilling or related field may be preferred
Other Requirements Certification may be acceptable in place of degree; relevant work experience may be required, along with leadership, problem-solving and communication skills
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 10.4% for all first-line supervisors of construction and extraction workers
Median Salary (2018)* $65,230 for all first-line supervisors of construction and extraction workers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Drilling Supervisor Job Description

Drilling supervisors are generally employed in the mining, quarrying or extraction industries. Unlike a drilling machine operator who, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, is responsible for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of drilling machines, a drilling supervisor oversees the work and ensures that it is completed in a timely manner. In August 2011, job postings on and for drilling supervisor positions stated that duties may include examining drilling sites, working cooperatively with management to develop operational plans and ensuring that drilling operators and other personnel follow safety standards.

Other duties of a drilling supervisor may include traveling to oil or precious mineral sites to coordinate and prioritize activities, submitting ideas to management about how to improve performance and working with engineering staff to help develop well designs. The job duties of a drilling supervisor are rigorous and demanding and it may take years to develop core skills in drilling supervision and operations. As a result, employers search for candidates who have excellent leadership and communication skills as well as an ability to solve problems and think analytically.

It is not uncommon for drilling supervisors to travel extensively or work overseas. For example, many oil-based drilling supervisor positions are based in the Middle East or are located offshore.

Education Requirements for Drilling Supervisors

Education requirements for becoming a drilling supervisor can range from an associate's degree to graduate-level training. Some employers may hire candidates who have no education but possess many years of experience in the field.

Employers with specific education requirements generally hire candidates who hold an associate's or bachelor's degree in several key areas, such as mechanical engineering technology, drilling technology, construction management and civil engineering technology. In lieu of a formal degree, some employers require that prospective drilling supervisors in the oil industry hold International Well Control Forum (IWCF) certification ( The IWCF certification is available for entry-level drillers and supervisors.

Career and Salary Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that first-line supervisors of construction and extraction workers like drilling operators earned a median salary of $65,230 in 2018. The BLS reported that workers in this field could expect better than average job growth from 2018-2028, an increase of 10.4% (

Drilling supervisors often hold an associate's or bachelor's degree in a relevant field, but some employers will hire supervisors with no degree, but who have earned IWCF certification. The job can be demanding, calling for good communication and leadership skills in addition to industry knowledge. Many drilling supervisors are required to travel to different sites, even overseas, to survey the performance of workers or to assist engineers with projects such as the planning of well designs.

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