A driller uses various large drills and other heavy machinery to drill into the earth for construction purposes, to tap into water and salt deposits below the earth, to remove mineral samples for testing, or to gain access energy resources like natural gas.
Drillers may operate a variety of drills, such as churn, pneumatic and rotary, to do their job. In some cases, a driller may also have to know how to safely use explosives; for example, if a construction crew is trying to clear out an area of land, a driller may drill a hole in the earth and then fill it with explosives to expedite the process. In the case of natural energy resources, drillers are essential to tapping into natural gas resources which are found below the earth’s surface. Being a driller can often be dangerous, as you have to handle heavy machinery and, in some cases explosives, so getting the proper training and educational requirements is an essential step towards becoming a professional driller.
Educational and Training Requirements
In most cases, drillers receive their training through hands-on, on-the-job experience. However, to succeed in the drilling industry or advance more quickly, it is recommended to have an applicable degree. Possibilities include degrees in construction, construction management engineering or soil sciences. How can one of these degrees help you? There is a lot that a driller needs to know about construction and the earth in order to perform his job safely. It is essential for a driller to understand the characteristics of different materials found in the earth, such as clay, lava and different types of rock, and to know how to work with these materials. Drilling into one type of rock can be very different from drilling into another type of rock, and drillers need to be able to recognize and know how to work with all types of materials.
In addition, drillers are responsible for manning enormous and highly technical drills and ensuring that drills are maintained, functioning, properly placed and stabilized before actual drilling takes place.
The driller is also often responsible for transporting the drill to a construction site, which may be out of the way; many construction drillers must drive trucks or even fly helicopters to transport drills to the appropriate construction site.
These are all things that can be learned on the job, but a degree can help you advance more quickly in your career. Aside from having an in-depth knowledge of the many responsibilities and technicalities involved with drilling, drillers also advised to become properly licensed. To become a licensed driller, you must have worked at a drilling well for at least one year within the past four years and you must complete and pass a special licensing exam.
Salary and Advancement Opportunities
Drilling is increasingly becoming a more competitive industry, especially as the US moves away from energy sources – such as petroleum – which require drilling specialists. Still there are jobs available for those individuals who fulfill the proper training and educational requirements. As the industry becomes more competitive, a specialized degree in a field such as construction or soil sciences will be a much greater advantage in the future than it has been previously. According to Payscale.com, a driller with one to four years of experience earns an average of $15 to $24.26 per hour, compared to an average of $15.53 to $29.12 hourly with 10 to 19 years of experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the mean annual wage of earth drillers, not including oil and gas drillers, to be approximately $41,360.