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Qualifications to Become a Rig Worker

by Jeffrey Joyner

The qualifications for an entry-level oil rig worker are not extensive, but employers enforce them strictly. Whether offshore or land-based, oil extraction can be hazardous, and employers want to know that the people they hire have the maturity and stability to do their jobs safely. The standards apply for workers in support positions, such as cooks and janitors, as well as workers who are actively involved in drilling operations.

Education Requirements

No universal standard exists for minimum educational requirements. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, some employers prefer at least a high school education for workers. If applying for a support job that requires special training, such as a nurse or engineer, applicants need the same level of education as they would to work in any other industry in that specific job.

Minimum Age Requirements

Employers will not hire workers under the age of 18; this is not due to employer preference alone. The U.S. Department of Labor prohibits minors from working in any occupation or industry deemed too hazardous for youths. All mining operations, including oil and gas extraction, fall under the category of prohibited occupations.

Physical Health Requirements

Oil rig workers need to be in good physical health. Some jobs, such as roustabout, are physically demanding and require workers to lift, climb and stoop repeatedly, so employers want to make sure that employees can do their jobs without injuring themselves. Furthermore, whether on an offshore or land-based rig, the work site may be remote, without nearby access to hospitals or emergency facilities. Most employers require all workers to pass a physical exam before hiring.

Substance Abuse Screenings

An impaired worker poses a risk to himself, other workers and the rig itself. Most employers have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs. Pre-employment screenings for substance abuse are standard in the industry, and some employers conduct random testing after employment. Consuming alcoholic beverages during working hours is also prohibited, and some employers ban them completely from offshore rigs.

Attitude and Personal Traits

Most employers look for workers who are flexible, ambitious and able to work as part of a team. Many rigs operate around the clock, regardless of the weather, and new workers may need to be willing to accept night shifts. Oil rig workers do not typically follow a five-day workweek, and they must expect occasions when they could go two weeks or longer without a day off. Safety is critical on oil rigs, so workers must be willing to comply will all safety regulations.

About the Author

Jeffrey Joyner has had numerous articles published on the Internet covering a wide range of topics. He studied electrical engineering after a tour of duty in the military, then became a freelance computer programmer for several years before settling on a career as a writer.

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