How to Become an

Oil & Gas Derrick Operator

The complete career guide to be an Oil & Gas Derrick Operator: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $50,710
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 13.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Get to Travel
    Career Attribute

Oil and gas derrick operators ensure that oil and gas derricks that are installed on land and at sea are operating safely and effectively. They monitor derrick operation, observe signs of issues or equipment failure, conduct repairs on parts, and replace components when derricks stop working properly.

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What is an Oil & Gas Derrick Operator?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in oil and gas derrick operator roles:

  • Monitor the workings of oil and gas derricks to ensure proper and efficient functionality
  • Conduct routine maintenance on derricks
  • Troubleshoot defective, inefficient, and nonfunctional derricks
  • Replace broken parts and repair failed or nonfunctional components
  • Position and align pumps to achieve maximum productivity

A Day in the Life

Oil and gas derrick operators ensure that oil and gas derricks that are installed on land and at sea are operating safely and effectively. The loud and dangerous setting for oil and gas derrick operators may not be for everyone, but those that can stand the pressures often sign up for contract after contract. A large part of the operator’s responsibility involves the drill and all of its functions. While working a shift, an operator will make sure that the drilling mud is of the right consistency and that every part of the drilling system is working properly.

Experienced oil and gas derrick operators often pull double duty as crew chiefs that direct the other employees in day-to-day operations as they position pipes, keep proper alignment, and have the pumps running at peak capacity. Whether a new employee or seasoned veteran, all members of a drilling team on a derrick are expected to be aware of and understand all aspects of the derrick’s operation to keep safety as a high priority.

Working as a derrick operator will often involve travel to remote locations. In addition to land-based derricks, the drilling systems can also be installed on ocean platforms where employees will stay for an extended period of time before returning to land. Because of the remoteness, many oil and gas derrick operators are forced to deal with extreme temperatures and difficult weather conditions in addition to the normal challenges of the job.

Typical Work Schedule

There really is no typical work schedule for oil and gas derrick operators. Some operators live on offshore oil rigs and may be required to work overtime, any time of the day, any day of the week, and many days in a row without time off. Onshore oil and gas derrick operators are also commonly on-call to handle emergencies.

Typical Employers

The largest number of oil and gas derrick operators are employed by oil companies to perform maintenance on offshore oil rigs. Generally, they’re hired to work for companies in the oil and gas extraction and mining industries.

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How To Become an Oil & Gas Derrick Operator

Almost all training for a new oil or gas derrick operator is conducted on the job, and there are few educational requirements, although some firms do require that their employees have completed some college coursework. Due to the dangerous conditions present while working on a derrick, finding employment is not difficult, and salaries are generally quite high compared to the lack of necessary education. Most training occurs on the job by experienced derrick operators.

Once hired, a prospective derrick operator will be trained in all aspects of the derrick, from initial construction to operation to drill removal. In this sense, operators will get a fully-rounded education and one that will easily translate to other gas or oil drilling projects. Employers will pay close attention to safety concerns, and those that do not uphold safety standards will have a hard time maintaining employment with the company.

For those that do embrace safety first, there are other skills that translate well to an oil or gas drilling community. Because of the seasonal nature of the job and the intense workloads, derrick operators commonly live together and must have the stamina needed to work long shifts with high physical exertion. The benefit for many derrick operators is that they are able to earn a considerable amount of money in a short period of time.

Oil & Gas Derrick Operator Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Oil & Gas Derrick Operator salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Oil & Gas Derrick Operator's can make an average annual salary of $50,710, or $24 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $38,730 or $19 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #381 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Oil & Gas Derrick Operator. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Oil & Gas Derrick Operators

  • 0%   Doctorate
  • 0.4%   Masters
  • 7.4%   Bachelors
  • 5.3%   Associates
  • 23.5%   College
  • 43%   High School
  • 20.4%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Oil & Gas Derrick Operator job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 2,900 jobs for a total of 24,600 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 13.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #125 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Oil & Gas Derrick Operators

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Support activities for mining 17,700 2,400 2%
Oil and gas extraction 3,500 400 0%
Self-employed workers 100 --- ---

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