Approximately 58,500 roustabouts are employed in the United States. Most roustabouts are employed by oil companies, working with production crews around existing oil wells or natural gas facilities. Others work for drilling contractors, which are companies that specialize in drilling new wells. Roustabouts usually work under the supervision of a maintenance superintendent and frequently assist skilled workers such as welders, electricians, and mechanics.
Potential roustabouts can contact drilling contractors or oil or natural gas companies directly about possible job openings. For the names and addresses of oil companies, visit the oil and industry Web site Rigzone (https://www.rigzone.com) or search directories such as Oildex's Oil & Gas Industry Directory (https://www.oildex.com/oil-gas-companies). Information may also be available through the local office of state employment services. Graduates of technical training programs may find assistance in locating employment through the placement office at their schools.
Roustabouts are usually hired in the field by the maintenance superintendent or by a local company representative. Many roustabouts learn their skills on the job by working under the supervision of experienced workers. Roustabouts with no previous experience are considered "hands" who learn by helping the lead roustabout and crew. They begin with simple jobs, like unloading trucks, and gradually take on more complicated work. As they progress, they learn about oil and natural gas field operations and equipment, safety practices, and maintenance procedures for the machinery.
A job as a roustabout is usually an entry-level position. To advance, roustabouts will need to prove that they can do the work; advancement to a variety of other jobs comes with experience.
Roustabouts who are part of maintenance and operation crews may advance to such positions as switcher, gauger, pumper, or lease operator. Those with proven leadership abilities may eventually become lead roustabout, chief operators or maintenance superintendents. Roustabouts who are on drilling crews may advance to become roughnecks, floor hands, or rotary helpers, and, later, derrick operators, drillers, and tool pushers, who are in charge of one or more drilling rigs; they also might become engineering technicians. All of these positions represent a special set of responsibilities in a complex operation.
Some companies run their own training programs offering employees the opportunity to take specialized courses in welding, electricity, and other craft areas; roustabouts who participate in such courses may be prepared to advance into such jobs as welders, electricians, pipefitters, and other craftworkers.
Tips for Entry
Read Well Servicing (https://www.aesc.net/well-servicing-magazine.html) to learn more about the field.
Visit https://www.rigzone.com/oil/jobs/search for job listings.
Talk to roustabouts about their careers. Ask them for advice on breaking into the field.