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Oil Derrickhand Job Description

On an oil rig the derrickhand handles the uppermost section of the drilling string as it is brought from or lowered into the wellbore or drill hole.

This process is referred to as "tripping" and occurs frequently so that bits can be replaced or to retrieve broken equipment from the hole and for other reasons. A derrickhand, who essentially reports up to the driller, may also oversee some of the machinery on the rig.

Derrickhands spend up to 25% of their time on the "monkey board," which is a platform high up in the rig's derrick. So if you're afraid of heights this job isn't for you. Working from the monkey board the derrickhand plays a lead role in stacking the drill pipe as it is tripped out or guiding the pipe as it is reconnected to the pipe string when tripped back into the hole.

Tripping is not something that occurs every minute of every day, so derrickhands have other responsibilities. They may play a key role in operating the mud system, mixing the mud, assisting the driller, doing equipment upkeep, and taking on other jobs as needed.

The job requires people who are agile, strong, possess good coordination skills, are detail oriented, and work well in a team environment. Safety training is a must to ensure against falls and serious accidents.

Derrickhands earn on average $18.00 to $24.00 per hour and make up to $40,000 per year. The next promotion is usually to the driller position.