Skip to the main content
This website uses cookies to give you a better online experience. By using this website or closing this message, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. More information
Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Toll Free 1-877-644-9992

Alert

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted legislation and services. Information on this website may not reflect the current situation in Alberta. Please visit alberta.ca for up-to-date information about these impacts.

Updated

Drilling and Service Rig Personnel

Drilling and service rig personnel work on oil and gas rigs. They perform general labourer duties and operate specialized equipment.

  • Avg. Salary $50,914.00
  • Avg. Wage $26.07
  • Minimum Education At least Grade 10
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 26,500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Derrickhand, Driller, Drill Operator, Floorhand, Leasehand, Motorhand, Roughneck

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Oil and Gas Well Drillers and Well Servicers (8232.1);  Oil and Gas Well Drilling Workers (8412.1);  Oil and Gas Drilling, Servicing and Related Labourers (8615) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related Workers (I132);  Oil and Gas Well Drilling Workers and Services Operators (I142);  Oil and Gas Drilling, Servicing and Related Labourers (I215) 
  • 2011 NOC: Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers (8232);  Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators (8412);  Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers (8615) 
  • 2016 NOC: Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers (8232);  Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators (8412);  Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers (8615) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

63%
63%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Drilling and Service Rig Personnel is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Oil and Gas Well Drillers and Well Servicers
OBJECTIVE

Interest in controlling the operations of drilling and service rig drilling and hoisting machinery

DIRECTIVE

Interest in speaking with members of rig crew to direct them in setting up rigs, drilling and completing and servicing oil and gas exploration and producing wells

methodical

Interest in compiling information to maintain records of drilling and servicing operations

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Oil and Gas Well Drilling Workers
OBJECTIVE

Interest in controlling and maintaining drilling mud systems and pumps during drilling and mixing of mud chemicals and additives; and in operating and maintaining diesel motors, transmissions and other mechanical equipment

METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to record mud flows and volumes and to take samples; and in assisting in setting up, taking down and transporting rigs

directive

Interest in speaking with floor hands and labourers to supervise their activities

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Oil and Gas Drilling, Servicing and Related Labourers
METHODICAL

Interest in comparing information to handle, sort and move drill tools, pipes, cement and other materials, and to clean up rig areas; may drive trucks to transport materials and well service equipment

OBJECTIVE

Interest in operating equipment to manipulate sections of pipes and drill stems at rig floors during drilling and for removal and replacement of strings of pipes, drill stems and bits

innovative

Interest in maintaining drilling equipment on drill floors

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Feb 12, 2021

Drilling rig personnel set up and use drilling rigs to explore viable sites for producing oil and gas. Each rig consists of a derrick, draw-works, and other surface equipment to provide the forces needed for a drill pipe to bore a hole into the earth. After the drilling rig reaches the layer of earth that contains oil or gas, it is removed from the site, and then service rig personnel complete the well construction.

Service rigs maintain, complete, and abandon oil and gas wells. They are fully mobile units, carrying the derrick and rig floor to well sites. Service rig personnel drive rig equipment in convoy with other service rig vehicles from one well location to another.

In Alberta, drilling and service rig personnel may fall into 2 groups:

  • Drilling and Service Rig Labourers
  • Drilling and Service Rig Operators
Drilling and Service Rig Labourers

Drilling and service rig labourers are the most junior members of the crew.

Leasehands work on drilling rigs. They:

  • Do housekeeping activities, such as:
    • Cleaning ice from walkways
    • Cleaning tools and equipment
    • Putting rig tools and equipment away after use
  • Help other crew members do odd jobs
  • Help other crew members fulfil rig manager requests
  • Watch for and remove hazards, such as debris and objects that are in the way of travel
  • Load and unload casing, tubing trucks, or mud trucks after they are trained and certified on load equipment

Floorhands work on drilling rigs and service rigs. There are usually 2 floorhands on a crew of 5. They:

  • Clean and organize tools, tool sheds, and rig equipment work areas
  • Learn to operate power tongs, which connect and disconnect the lower thread ends of tubing or drill pipe (when it is being lowered into and pulled from the cased or open-hole wellbore)
  • Catch samples of circulation returns or drilled cuttings on a drilling rig (to be analyzed by geologists on site)
  • Help run tubing or casing into a well after drilling is completed
  • Clean and maintain equipment as per the rig manager‘s or company’s policies
  • Perform housekeeping tasks, such as:
    • Keeping the service rig work floor or drilling floor clean
    • Painting, organizing, or scrubbing around the rig
  • Help service or drilling crew members as instructed
Drilling and Service Rig Operators

Motorhands work on drilling rigs. They:

  • Regularly maintain drilling rig engines, transmissions, heating systems, diesel electric generators and motors, hydraulic systems, and other mechanical equipment
  • Maintain equipment logs and preventative maintenance records
  • Monitor inventories of fuels, oil filters, lube oils, greases, and other service items
  • Work under the direction of the derrickhand and driller
  • Supervise, train, and work with floorhands and labourers
  • Ensure floorhands and labourers safely and efficiently participate in rig mobilization and de-mobilization (rig-up and tear-out)

Derrickhands work on drilling rigs and service rigs. They:

  • Work under the direction of the driller
  • Assist the driller with crew supervision, ensuring the crew works safely and efficiently
  • Participate in rig mobilization and de-mobilization
  • On drilling rigs, derrickhands:
    • Operate and maintain drilling fluid systems and pumps during drilling
    • Mix fluid chemicals and additives as required by the program
    • Handle sections of drill string assembly from a platform on the rig derrick during tripping operations
    • Monitor and record mud flows, volumes, and fluid properties (mud weight)
  • On service rigs, derrickhands:
    • Work high above the rig floor on a platform called a tubing board
    • Guide lengths of tubing, testing instruments, or special servicing tools such as fishing tools or paraffin scraping devices as they are raised from or lowered into the well
    • Steady items while they are connected or disconnected
    • Inspect the derrick before it is raised or lowered
    • Operate the rod basket, which is used to store sucker rods pulled from the well
    • Pump fluid and maintain the pump and tank on location

Drillers or operators work on drilling rigs and service rigs. They:

  • Operate the draw-works, rotary equipment, and pumps, and supervise the assembly of drill string (on drilling rigs)
  • Operate hoisting equipment control panels (on service rigs)
  • Ensure that safety and support equipment is functioning properly
  • Keep a current record of operations and drilling progress
  • Supervise rig mobilization and de-mobilization
  • Supervise rig crews and the operation of equipment, ensuring they work safely and efficiently
  • Train crew members
  • Introduce procedures to help the crew work more safely and effectively
  • Report directly to drilling and service rig managers
Working Conditions
Updated Feb 12, 2021

Working conditions vary with the tasks performed, rig location, and weather conditions. Rig personnel mostly work outdoors, often year-round in remote locations. They may be exposed to extremes in weather as well as the dirt, dust, noise, and fumes common around a rig.

Work schedules vary with industry demand. Some personnel work 2 weeks followed by a week off. Drilling and service rig crew usually work 12-hour shifts, which include commuting time to and from work. They usually make their own way to their work site, so rig personnel may travel widely throughout the province. If the rig is in a remote location, crews operate out of a camp or stay at a nearby hotel.

The work is physically demanding and may involve lifting items weighing over 25 kilograms. Workplace hazards include working on slippery rig floors, working near or with heavy tools, and moving machinery. Rig personnel must follow standard safety practices. They must take part in safety meetings and emergency procedure drills.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Feb 12, 2021

Drilling and service rig personnel need:

  • Quick thinking
  • Emotional stability
  • Physical strength, stamina, and agility
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Manual dexterity
  • A safety-conscious attitude
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Organizational skills
  • The ability to work as a team and take instruction daily
  • The ability to understand the chain of command on work sites
  • The ability to judge distances and spatial relationships
  • The willingness to remain drug free
  • An interest in working outdoors, away from home, and in remote areas

They should enjoy working with equipment and machinery, compiling information, and keeping records. They should enjoy having clear rules and guidelines for their work.

Individuals who are not at ease at heights should not become derrickhands.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers
NOC code: 8615

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 14 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Dec 26, 2020 and Apr 21, 2021.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Team player
Handle, sort and move drill pipes, tools, cement and other materials
Drive trucks to transport materials and well service equipment
Clean up rig areas
Assist in setting up, taking down and transporting drilling and service rigs and service equipment
Write daily basic progress reports
Manipulate sections of pipes or drill stems at rig floor during drilling and during removal and replacement of pipes, drill stems and drill bits
Assist other workers to maintain drilling equipment on drill floor
Area of Specialization: Forklift
Clean machines and immediate work areas
Educational Requirements
Updated Feb 12, 2021

Drilling and service rig personnel acquire the skills and knowledge they need by learning on the job and taking courses. Often the minimum education required for an entry-level job is grade 10. However, a high school diploma may be an asset for advancement.

Employers require applicants to:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Hold a first aid certificate with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  • Hold an H2S Alive certificate (specialized hydrogen sulfide training for rig crews)

Motorhands, derrickhands, and drillers need to have an unrestricted Class 5 driver’s licence.

Once employed, workers earn additional required certifications through in-house training:

  • Petroleum Safety Training (PST) or equivalent
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG)
  • Fall protection
  • Well control
  • Confined space entry

To access and work in the oil and gas industry, employees must complete the Energy Safety Canada Common Safety Orientation (CSO) course. Some employers may provide this training in-house. Energy Safety Canada also provides training for drilling and service rig crews. It is the industry’s safety association, but other organizations also offer this training.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Feb 12, 2021

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Feb 12, 2021

Drilling and service rig personnel work for contractors who own and operate oil and gas well drilling rigs. These employers contract with oil and gas producers to drill wells.

Some rigs operate year round, but employment in this occupation may be seasonal. Winter is the busiest season for drilling activity. Late fall and early winter are the best times for applicants with no experience to ask about openings.

Drilling and service rig personnel has few requirements for entry and can be a stepping-stone to other employment opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

New employees on a drilling rig start as leasehands or floorhands. With on-the-job training, a positive attitude, and the ability to learn quickly, they can advance to motorhand, derrickhand, and driller positions.

Experienced drilling and service rig personnel may become rig managers or move into management positions in other sections of the oil and gas industry. For example, a conscientious, hard-working person with leadership skills can move from leasehand to rig manager in 8 to 10 years. Some experienced drilling rig personnel may be hired by specialist companies as mud technicians or directional drillers. Others may move into related equipment sales or training, regulatory, or safety positions.

In Alberta, drillers or operators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 8232: Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers. 82% of people employed in this classification work in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction [pdf] industry.

In Alberta, motorhands and derrickhands are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 8412: Oil and gas well drilling workers and services operators. 80% of people employed in this classification work in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction [pdf] industry.

In Alberta, leasehands and floorhands are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 8615: Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers. 80% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)

In Alberta, the 8232: Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.3% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 332 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

In Alberta, the 8412: Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 59 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

In Alberta, the 8615: Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 59 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Frequent recruitment is needed to deal with employment turnover, especially as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years. Experienced employees are in high demand to deal with vacancies.

Wage & Salary
Updated Feb 12, 2021

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) has a recommended wage schedule. However, wages may vary by employers. Some employers also offer bonuses but employment may not be year-round.

The CAODC recommended wages for service rig crews in 2018 were:

  • Floorhands: $25.70 an hour plus daily subsistence
  • Derrickhands: $28.25 an hour pus daily subsistence
  • Operators: $32.00 an hour plus daily subsistence
  • $12.50 an hour for travel time
Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $18.00 $42.00 $31.09 $28.37
Overall $20.17 $56.00 $39.89 $42.00
Top $21.92 $92.86 $55.41 $51.28

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Oil & Gas Extraction
ALL INDUSTRIES
Construction
Manufacturing

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

63%
63%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

32%
32%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

10%
10%

Vacancy Rate

6%
Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $50.51 $31.82 $30.01
Overall $20.95 $55.00 $36.52 $36.00
Top $26.00 $75.96 $43.02 $41.50

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Oil & Gas Extraction
Construction

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

45%
45%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

46%
46%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

11%
11%

Vacancy Rate

2%
Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $34.62 $22.56 $20.00
Overall $17.00 $40.38 $26.07 $25.00
Top $21.00 $47.12 $30.69 $27.74

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Oil & Gas Extraction
ALL INDUSTRIES
Transportation and Warehousing
Construction
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

68%
68%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

35%
35%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

12%
12%

Vacancy Rate

4%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Feb 12, 2021

Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) website: caodc.ca

Energy Safety Canada website: www.energysafetycanada.com

PetroLMI, Careers in Oil and Gas (COG) website: careersinoilandgas.com

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Feb 12, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

Was this page useful?
Top