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Roughnecks and Roustabouts Jobs

The true entry-level jobs on an oil rig are Roughneck or Roustabout. Some consider the terms interchangeable. You might also see the titles of Leasehand or Floorhand used instead of Roughneck and Roustabout.

Although it may sound somewhat derogatory, the roughneck / roustabout jobs are usually termed: unskilled or semiskilled manual laborer. No matter how you look at them, these positions are an important part of any rig's operation. They could be on the worksite as part of the crew or brought in as temps to fill short-term needs. And without a doubt they work long, hard hours day after day, in often difficult conditions. High or very low temperatures. Wind. Rain. Snow.

Common Job Responsibilities

While those managing the operation may not express it often enough, they appreciate that roustabouts and roughnecks take care of a lot of cleaning, maintenance, painting, rust removal, and all kinds of other 'peripheral' tasks. With these things out of the way others on the crew can worry about getting the oil out of the ground efficiently and safely.

Remember, there are usually 3 or 4 crews per oil rig, all working eight or 12 hour shifts. There might be 2 roughnecks or roustabouts assigned to each of the crews. In a given day here's what a roughneck or roustabout might do:

  • assemble and repair oil field machinery and equipment
  • use various types of equipment to dig ditches, post holes, pour concrete for slaps or securing posts, put together derricks
  • oil rig roughnecks photo
  • keep the deck clean and clear of safety hazards
  • moving equipment around the rig
  • scrape rust
  • paint
  • connect sections of pipe for the well
  • rig and sling loads being moved by the rig's crane, and
  • ... other duties as assigned!

You get the picture right? Roughneck jobs and roustabouts are the grunts who do a lot of the dirty work. In some places you might read that roughnecks, specifically, thread drill bits together and connect steel tubing while the roustabouts do all the 'other' work described above. Regardless of what term is used the people in these jobs must be team players who energetic and conscientious.

Roughnecks who desire to move up to genuine crew positions will have ample opportunity. The key is to demonstrate an incredible work ethic, follow instructions, and learn as much as possible about how the rig operates.

Depending on where you're working and the company, you could end up making between $28,000 and $40,000 per year. Some figures we have seen indicate even higher pay. Benefits are usually included as well.