Offshore drilling worker

driller assistant driller derrickman

Career outlook for offshore drilling worker

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would work as part of a team that controls and operates the drills on offshore facilities such as oil or gas rigs or drilling platforms.

Increasingly, your skills will be used in energy transition, renewables and new technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

As a driller, you would supervise the drilling team and control the rate of drilling. It’s a highly skilled and responsible job.

You would:

  • Control operations on the drill floor
  • Oversee assembly of the drilling tools and connect sections of the drill pipe
  • Operate and control the machinery that raises and lowers the drill
  • Keep records of the drilling process
  • Make sure that the whole team follows health and safety rules

As an assistant driller it would be your job to coordinate the activities on the drill floor. For example, you would pass on instructions and information from the driller to the rest of the drilling team.

As a derrickman, you would work 20 to 25 metres above the rig floor on a platform attached to the derrick - the mast that supports the drilling equipment.

You would:

  • Handle and stack sections of the drill pipe
  • Maintain the derrick
  • Operate the lifting and hoisting machinery to position the drill
  • Control and maintain mud pumps
  • Supervise mud pump operators

The driller and assistant driller would supervise your work.

Working conditions


You would typically live and work on a rig or platform for two or three weeks, followed by two or three weeks’ rest period on shore. You would work up to 12 hours a day on a 24-hour shift rota.


You could work on a fixed production platform with up to 100 workers, or on a smaller mobile rig in a team of around 20 people. Facilities can include living accommodation, canteens and recreation areas. There are bans on alcohol and smoking. The job can be physically demanding, working in all types of weather conditions and at heights. You would need to wear protective clothing, including a harness, ear defenders and thermal boiler suit.


You would typically live and work on a rig or platform for two or three weeks, followed by two or three weeks’ rest period on shore.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Working with numbers
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Time management
  • Making decisions
  • Taking responsibility
  • Analysing

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5.

A common route into the industry is through an apprenticeship scheme.

Employers may look for qualifications at SCQF levels 4-6 for entry to an apprenticeship. 

For entry to an apprenticeship you would normally need to sit an aptitude test.


Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by many course and employers)
  • Science subjects (required by many course and employers)
  • English
  • Technologies subjects such as engineering science

You will also need

  • An offshore survival course such as basic offshore safety induction and emergency training certificate (BOSIET)
  • To pass an offshore medical certificate

You would normally get into this job after first working with the drilling crew as a roustabout and roughneck.

You will usually need at least two years’ experience and be aged 18 years old to apply for jobs. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience working with shipbuilding, construction or engineering is helpful.

Once in a job you may be able to gain relevant Scottish Vocational Qualifications such as the Offshore Drilling Operations (SVQ levels 1/2/3) developed with Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation (OPITO) or qualification through the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) would be useful.

A forklift truck licence may also be helpful.