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Jobs That Get Oil Out of the Ground

Updated on June 25, 2013

© 2013 by Aurelio Locsin.

Oil becomes the fuel that heats homes and businesses, or powers transportation as diverse as cars, trains and cruise ships. Before it can undergo this transformation it must get out of the ground through the efforts of many types of jobs. Collectively, individuals with this employment are called oil workers, although their specialties define their titles and tasks.


Oil workers need the physical strength to lift heavy equipment and tools, and the stamina to work up to 12 hours a day for 7 or 14 days straight.

  • They must have good eye-hand coordination so they adjust machinery and move them into place, and the excellent depth perception to view movement and placement accurately.
  • Good orientation to detail helps them closely monitor gauges and other meters that detail the functions of machines.
  • Finally, oil workers must work in teams to perform their tasks. So, they must be able to listen closely to instructions, and explain their actions to crew leaders and managers.

Operator Tasks

Derrick operators make sure that oil derricks function efficiently.

  • They inspect derricks for any problems, make any needed repairs to pumps or other equipment, and ensure that drilling fluid flows correctly to prevent burnouts.
  • They maintain equipment, and position and align parts by using harnesses and climbing devices.

Service unit operators operate pumps for circulating water and oil to remove sand, and handle controls for raising derricks and level rigs.

  • They inspect engines and rotary changers, monitor gauges to account for load variations and thread cables to derrick pulleys.
  • They drive the trucks that bring equipment to sites, and remove tubes and rods from holes in the ground.

Drillers maintain the drill rig and train crews for safe operations.

  • They monitor well flow through gauges, control the speed of rotary tables and regulate tool pressure.
  • They start and oversee pump operations, and keep records of how and when the drill is used.

Roustabouts keep equipment clean and remove debris.

  • They move pipes and other equipment to and from trucks, guide cranes that move loads, and use winches and motorized lifts to perform their tasks.
  • They can also disassemble, repair and re-assemble oil field equipment.
  • Other oil specialists include engine operators who handle the engines that provide power and pumpers who operate and maintain the machines that regulate oil flowing out of the well.


Oil workers need to be at least 18 and in good physical shape. No advanced education is needed, although some employers prefer a high-school diploma. Having post-secondary courses in basic mechanics, heavy equipment operations and welding can be helpful. Workers receive training on the job from more experienced professionals or crew chiefs. Experience can provide advancement, such as from roustabout to derrick operator to driller, or from land operations to offshore rigs. Those showing administrative skill can become crew chiefs.


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      There are certainly many of those types of jobs originating at companies headquartered in Houston. Good hub as usual. You could be a career counselor! Up votes and tweeting.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Brett said it best, "another interesting review". We could get you a job as a career counselor AL, you write such comprehensive yet succinct job hubs!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      Another interesting review. This is a job I used to be very interested in joining, but found to be difficult to find a way into. There are so many companies advertising, but want paying for the information ... which isn't always what it is made out to be. However, now I wouldn't want to work that many hours straight and realize there are better approaches to life ...

      Shared, pinned, tweeted, up, useful and interesting.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      Wow, this is a career for the young! It sounds very physically demanding, but I know the potential for decent pay is good. Another interesting article in the series. Voted up!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Interesting and informative read. I didn't know there were so many different types of operators in this field. Voted up.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I found this article interesting. It never occurred to me that there were so many specialties in this field.

    • jaydene profile image

      jaydene 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Yes this is an incredible feat.

      Physical strength and enduring long hours a requirement for sure.