For those interested in oil and gas careers, the most common entry-level position is as a roustabout. A roustabout performs duties similar to a roughneck, with a roustabout at a slightly lower level. The term "roustabout" is most commonly used for those who work in the circus or oil rigs. The term refers to those performing unskilled labor. Despite the lack of education involved, the career is very stable. Roustabouts often become long-term employees in oil and gas careers, taking on the most dangerous jobs while working out in the field on the offshore oil rigs. Their duties are variable, changing on a daily basis. Their main job is drilling on oil rigs. Those working in oil and gas careers as roustabouts primarily help with cleaning duties. They help install and repair equipment, dig ditches, cut down trees, build derricks, set well equipment, tie down pump units, haul and install pipes, haul gravel, operate tools, and perform yard maintenance and general cleanup duties. They may also work with a variety of equipment, such as tractors, trucks, and trailers.
Being a roustabout in oil and gas careers does not require much education. Roustabouts often have no education beyond a high school diploma. In fact, less than 20% have any sort of college education. Most learn on the job, but some take courses to gain a feel for the petroleum industry. As with many oil and gas careers, roustabouts need to be able to work well with their hands as they will be constantly handling and moving tools and other equipment. They may also assemble pipes and fittings. Roustabouts must be in top physical shape and be able to move quickly as they will be in constant motion, performing actions such as climbing ladders, erecting scaffolding, building and repairing structures, digging holes, and mixing mortar. Being a roustabout in oil and gas careers requires good communication skills, cooperation, and teamwork. Roustabouts will not only be working with their co-workers but living with them in close quarters for long stretches of time. Roustabouts often work 12-hour days for weeks at a time in various parts of the world, so they can expect to spend a lot of time away from their families. Because oil and gas careers are worldwide, roustabouts may be asked to work in countries all over the world. Because temperatures vary by country, they must be able to work outdoors in a variety of conditions. Roustabouts may work in freezing conditions in places such as Siberia or Alaska or in the extremely hot deserts of China or Africa. There are also possible dangers and threats while working on the offshore oil rigs, such as storms and hurricanes.
Oil and gas careers offer high salaries even for entry-level workers. Salaries for roustabouts can range from $30,000 to $45,000 per year, depending on the company and level of experience. This is not bad at all for working six months out of the year and doing work that requires no experience or education. In addition to the attractive pay, oil and gas careers offer many perks as well. Housing, food and laundry services are often paid for. Entertainment may also be provided.
Roustabouts in oil and gas careers must be at least 18 years of age and be able to pass a medical exam. Although no experience is required, some background in the Marines, Armed Forces, or construction jobs is recommended. Once roustabouts are hired, they must complete survival and firefighting courses and training classes, which can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. After about six months of proving themselves capable and ambitious, roustabouts may be promoted to roughnecks.
Last Updated: 05/15/2014
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