Exploring this Job

Talking with someone who has worked as a roustabout or in another oil field operations job would be a very helpful and inexpensive way of exploring this field. Visit the Web sites of oil and gas industry professional associations, as well as leading companies, to learn more about the field. 

Those who live near an oil field may be able to arrange a tour by contacting the public relations department of oil companies or drilling contractors. Another option is to drive by oil fields that lie along public roads and public lands and take an unofficial tour by car.

Some summer and other temporary jobs as roustabouts are available, and they provide a good way to find out about this field. Temporary workers can learn firsthand the basics of oil field operations, equipment maintenance, safety, and other aspects of the work. Those individuals who are thinking about this kind of work should also consider entering a two-year training program in petroleum technology to learn about the field.

The Job

Roustabouts perform a wide range of tasks, from picking up trash at well sites to running heavy equipment. Part of their work involves clearing sites that have been selected for drilling and building a solid base for drilling equipment. Roustabouts cut down trees to make way for roads or to reduce fire hazards. They dig trenches for foundations, fill excavated areas, mix up batches of wet concrete, and pour concrete into building forms. Other jobs include loading and unloading pipe and other materials onto or from trucks and boats.

Roustabouts also dig drainage ditches around wells, storage tanks, and other installations. They walk flow lines to locate leaks and clean up spilled oil by bailing it into barrels or other containers. They also paint equipment such as storage tanks and pumping units and clean and repair oil field machinery and equipment.

The tools roustabouts use range from simple hand tools like hammers and shovels to heavy equipment such as backhoes or trackhoes. Roustabouts use heavy wrenches and other hand tools to help break out and replace pipe, valves, and other components for repairs or modifications and truck winches for moving or lifting heavy items. Roustabouts also operate motorized lifts, power tools, and electronic sensors and testers. They may also operate tractors with shredders, forklifts, or ditching machines.