How to get a Job with an Offshore Drilling Company

August 23, 2012 · 27 comments

The Offshore Oil and Gas Industry is one of the fastest growing job markets in the US.  Even without a college degree, employees can make over$100,000 per year after only a few years of experience on offshore drilling rigs.  Make no mistake though, these employees work hard for their money. 

While the overall US unemployment rate is still greater than 8%, oil drilling companies are struggling to hire, train and retain employees to keep up with the demand of an ever increasing number of drilling rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico.

Competition for quality employees in the offshore drilling industry is fierce and has been reflected in the ever increasing salaries of seasoned and entry level personnel alike.

Entry Level Offshore Drilling Jobs:

Image courtesy of Maersk Drilling.

Entry level positions on offshore drilling rigs typically start at salaries of $40-50K with full benefits (medical, dental, matched 401k, and training reimbursement) with 6 months of vacation per year. The draw-back, of course, is that you spend half the year away from your family and friends working physically demanding 12 hour days in the hot and humid Gulf of Mexico weather. Most work rotations are either 14 days on, 14 days off… or 21 days on, 21 days off.

College degrees or other industrial certifications are typically not required for entry level offshore oil rig positions and most of the larger companies will gladly pay for any training you may need to upgrade your licenses, skills or other qualifications needed to advance your career. The work is not easy, but if you have a good attitude and willingness to learn, your career opportunities in the offshore drilling industry are literally endless.

In the current offshore oil and gas job market it is not uncommon to earn an $80-100K salary after only 5 years experience.  Suprisingly, offshore oil and gas jobs never show up in those silly online articles about “surprising careers that pay over $100,000 per year”.  Oh well, the secret is out now!

Entry level oil rig positions you may consider applying for.

Ordinary Seaman: The ordinary seaman or “seaman” is an entry level position in the “marine department” on offshore drilling rigs and drillships. Like conventional merchant ships, most offshore drilling rigs are still considered “ships” by the United States Coast Guard and as such they are required to have a certain amount of certified and licensed “merchant mariners” on board to maintain all of the life-saving equipment, respond to maritime emergencies and perform the traditional maritime activities such as cleaning and painting. After a certain amount of time, ordinary seaman can upgrade their certificate to an “able bodied seaman” otherwise known as an “AB” where he or she is assigned additional responsibilities (such as supervising the ordinary seamen on deck). After obtaining an “AB” license and holding the AB positions for a few years, ABs can sit for an examination for a merchant marine officer’s license (3rd Mate). Ultimately, the individual can keep upgrading their license to eventually become the vessel’s captain.

Roustabout: Roustabouts are the general laborers on the rig. Their main duties including working with the crane operator to load and unload supplies for the drilling rig from supply boats, general cleaning duties, painting and assisting other departments on the rig as directed. With the right attitude and willingness to learn, roustabouts can quickly advance to higher positions within the drilling department or cross train for a promotion as an entry level electrician or engineer.  Many of them also go on to earn their crane operator’s license and eventually become a deck foreman.

Catering: Most offshore oil companies use independent contract catering companies to fill positions in their catering departments (cooking, housekeeping, laundry services, etc.). While these positions typically pay less and have fewer benefits, if you’re looking for some legitimate experience in the hospitality industry, working on an offshore drilling rig with 150-200 crew members is an excellent place to learn.  Catering jobs are usually much easier to get with a contract company (Art Catering, Delta Catering and Sodexo (formley Univeral Sodexho) and offer good exposure and experience to help you decide if you want to make a career out of working in the offshore oilfield.

Transitioning to Offshore Drilling Job from a Different Industry or the Military:

If you’re transitioning to the offshore oil and gas industry from a previous industry (or military service) and you already have some training in one of the many job categories on an offshore drilling rig, your prospects for employment and higher salaries are even better.

Skilled electricians, mechanics, electronics technicians, and licensed merchant mariners (among other professions) are in serious demand and can expect close to six figures salaries their first year. If you already have a college degree (engineering, business, logistics, math, computers, etc.) your prospects for employment are equally high.

Offshore Drilling Job Resources:

By now you’re probably wondering how to go about getting a job in the offshore oil and gas drilling industry. Don’t get frustrated by the fact that most offshore oil and gas companies don’t list openings for entry level positions on their websites. Getting an interview with a drilling contractor is a combination of luck and perseverance.

Here are some resources and tips to help you land a job with an offshore oil company.

Job Boards:

If you’re looking for job openings in the offshore oil and gas industry, the “career center” on Rigzone.com is by far the most comprehensive listing of available oil and gas jobs. Even if the job you’re seeking isn’t listed, you can still submit your application and resume through the job listing since it will most likley go to the same recruiter that hires entry level positions as well.

Register an Account on Linkedin:

Linkedin is a social networking tool like Facebook that is geared towards career professionals (you can read my full Linkedin review). Incidentally, almost every oil and gas recruiter I’ve met over the last few years has an account with Linkedin which is really handy since you can do a “search” for each prospective drilling company that hires US workers (Seadrill, Transocean, Vantage, Atwood, Ensco, Pride, Maersk, etc.). Include the word “recruiter” in your search and Linkedin will more than likely display the name and contact information of that recruiter which you can then get in contact with (you’re best bet is with Linkedin’s own internal email messaging system).  Once you find out who the recruiters are for the companies you’re interested in you can send them your application, resume and coverletter/CV.

Offshore Drilling Company Career Page Links:

Here is a link to each of the major offshore drilling contractor’s career page (job listing page):

Atwood:

For information about working at Atwood click here.

Diamond:

For offshore drilling job listings with Diamond click here.

Ensco:

To get a job with Ensco click here.

Frontier:

For information about job opportunties with Frontier click here.

Hercules Offshore:

To learn about job openings with Hercules Offshore click here.

Maersk:

For available job listings with Maersk Drilling click here.

Noble:

Noble Drilling job opportunties are listed here.

Ocean Rig:

For offshore oil and gas drilling jobs with Ocean Rig click here.

Pacific Drilling:

For a listing of available offshore jobs with Pacific click here.

Seadrill:

For employment information with Seadrill click here.

Transocean:

To find job openings with Transocean click here.

Vantage:

For more inforamtion on jobs with Vantage Drilling click here.

If you have any additional questions on getting a job on an offshore drilling rig, please ask your questions in the comments section below.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

shinde ajinkya August 24, 2012 at 2:17 am

sir,
I have done diploma in mech engg.and now going to complete diploma in marine engg. I wants to work in offshore industry.i want to know that is there any medical qulification required to join at enrty level position. I am from india. Can i get job in us or gulf of mexico.

Thank you,

Ben August 25, 2012 at 6:46 am

Most oil drilling companies and oil services companies (Halliburton and Schlumberger for example) will require you to take physical exam prior to joining their companies. If you’re speaking about having some sort of medical care training (CPR, EMT, etc.) that probably won’t be necessary. Unless you’re a US citizen or a “resident alien” holding a “green card” it will be very difficult for you to get a job in the US Gulf of Mexico. In some instances, the United States Coast Guard will give “exemption letters” that will allow a foreign citizen to do contract work on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico for a limited amount of time provided they have a valid US Work VISA.

Kris November 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Hello,

I am currently an unlicensed electrician on container vessels. I work on average 6 months a year and make about 100k annually. I am in the process of upgrading to my 3rd assistant unlimited. I was wondering if it would be a good career move to work aboard an oil rig. Will I make more or am I wasting my time and just stay put. I’m not looking for just more money but a better work rotation.

Thanks for your website and time,
Kris

Ben November 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

You will most likely make a lot more as an electrician on an offshore drilling rig! Even better, the rotation is a steady 3 weeks on 3 weeks off with transportation to and from paid for by the company (at least with most companies). I would definately get your resume in with one of the companies mentioned on my website and see what they have to say! They are desperate for electricians, ET’s etc. Especially people with actual shipping experience!

Kris December 10, 2012 at 11:50 am

Thanks Chief…..Will do. Thanks again for you time and website.

RAJIV KUMAR SHARMA December 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm

hi,
currently i m working with a reputed co. as an AB.Its 9 months contract which is very long period.so i m looking for rotation job on ship or oil rigs. I m having complete 9 years experiance

Rodney January 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I am working as a welder making catapillar parts and also welding carbide …. I am interested in working on a rig or wherever but would like to know more about the qualifications and locations as well as benifits … I am currently in Wisconsin but would like to relocate in October of 2013…

Navneet Singh January 12, 2013 at 11:23 pm

sir

Good day & i am AB Seamen. i want ask to you that indian AB can apply for overseas drilling company. i have 1 year exp of drillship in india please help me.
Thank you for that

Emmanuel January 18, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Sir,I have a degree from the Merchant Marine Academy in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Marine Mechanics, with 1 year of offshore experience in Cargo ships as a fourth Engineer. I currently have a license as a third Engineer however I do not have experience as a third Engineer. Also, I have almost completed a physics degree. I am an American citizen but I have obtained my degrees in Greece. However, I have successfully had both my degrees evaluated by a regionally-accredited institution of higher education in the United States. I am fluent in English and Greek. Based on your experience what jobs would I best be suited for given my particular education? Can you help me? Thank you for your time and consideration!
ps. I am willing to work anywhere in the field, onshore, offshore, in the USA or abroad.

Arnold Mudenda January 28, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Sir I am an electrician with six years experience in the trade.I have been looking for a job offshore but to no avail mostly because I am not a citizen of the United States of America or don’t have a work visa since most oilrigs are in America or are owned by America.I have an offshore survival certificate and a valid offshore medical certificate which I acquired in the Republic of South africa.I do not mind working any where in the world.Sir please assist.

sameer s. Kulkarni January 31, 2013 at 8:19 am

Respected Sir, i have done BHM (Hotel mgmt) and am having 4 an half years of work exp. Can i get a job there…

Bill February 1, 2013 at 4:19 am

Hi Ben
I have over 25 years experience in catering, but no offshore experience. I have long been interested in working offshore/remote site’s, and September 2012 after whilst visiting The USA, I was interviewed by ARAMARK’s General Manager and was offered the position of Offshore Chef Manager, working out of Louisiana in The Gulf of Mexico. I underwent a medical as well as orientation and obtained my IADC Rig Pass. I also underwent security and reference screening and was set up with Aramark’s management intranet. Unfortunately, I have recently learnt that because of my British Nationality and the non emergency status of my position, I have been refused a “US Coast Guard Exemption Letter” which excludes me obtaining the necessary B1 Visa allowing me to commence work in US Waters. This however has not dampened either my desire, nor my determination to make an offshore career my goal.
The USA seems out of the question now, and I have sent my resume to numerous companies but without luck so far. Can you please advise me in what direction I should take.
Thanks.

Lyes43 February 6, 2013 at 6:06 am

I have Msc degree and I am looking for paid or unpaid internships or jobs in the oil and gas industry in order to get experience.

godwin martins February 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Hello ben,
I am godwin martins from lagos nigeria. I have a diploma in physics and a profrssional diploma in weding and fabrication. I also did some undamental online petroleum training with petex and I did the 132- hour OSHA safety course online too. Can all this get me a an oil and gas job in the usa. As I have been looking for job but all to no avail!

Angelo Norfleet March 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I’m an able bodied seaman looking to make a change looking for work

moses March 9, 2013 at 4:54 am

i am working from last 15yr in ship line U.S.A as cook /chef. very much interested to work on offshore rig.please help me for job.

Oladimeji March 14, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Mr Ben thank you so much for ths mind blowing infos.pls am a graduate of mining Engineering from Nigeria West Africa but i need an Entry job or intern, short training in floorman able sea, derick man that can place on the demand in this industry, Pls can you be of help?

Hamoud Afis March 20, 2013 at 3:53 am

I am Working Tool Pusher In Sultanate Of Oman in Dalma Energy Co.

and I am looking for job in other company same like tool pusher or ight tool pusher

sats April 3, 2013 at 11:20 am

sir
iam working as Electrical officer on oil tankers since last 4 years. Iam from India and have studied Electronics Engineering.Can I get a job on oil rig as Electrician. Shortly i will have Electrotechnical officers licenc.

vaibhav nikam April 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm

resp. sir,
i m ordinary seaman…with tanker experiance of 24 months….with watchkeeping.
i want job on rig….plz.tell me wat scale i wl gate, on same rank…wat is the promotion criteria on rigs…my basic qualification is 12th science with pcmb …70%….plz.let me know all information..

godwin martins December 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I am a nigerian and a professiona welder trained in manila phillipines on most welding process like GTAW,GMAW,SMAW etc . I am AWS sense certified on level 1and 2. I was wondering if there is anyone on this website who can help m’he with some recruiters emails to appy for oil rig welding jobs. Has i have tried my best applying on most of t’he top oil and gas website and they dont even reply.

Fred January 1, 2014 at 8:45 am

I am fred from Nigeria! Also looking for job in the oil and gas industry as a roustabout. Contact me on- +23408179721500.

joel January 2, 2014 at 11:28 am

Am a final year BSc Nautical science student in Ghana and looking forward for a paid or unpaid internship with an offshore company for experience-sake’
Any tips?

vikas sood January 7, 2014 at 8:05 am

hello sir,
thankyou for all the information u have given
currently i am working as a electrical officer on bulk carriers, sir in my six years of work experience i have worked on three gear and four gearless bulkcarriers, now i m looking for some good offshore opportunity.
as i m an indian please advice me what are my chances, where and how to apply and what should be the starting contract period and salary to be expected.

KUNAL January 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

Hi!
I have @ 21months of seatime, now still on oil tanker till feb end, want to switch to working on oil rigs, what do i need to get started.

KUNAL January 27, 2014 at 11:32 am

Do i need any specific CDC or watchkeeping

Ben February 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Hi Kunal, I think it depends on what specific job you intend to do and what country you live in and what country the vessel you’re planning on working on is registered to.

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