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Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas
SOC Code: 47-5012.00

Set up or operate a variety of drills to remove underground oil and gas, or remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.

Sample of reported job titles: Daylight Driller, Drill Foreman, Drill Operator, Driller, Drilling Rig Operator, Motor Man, Oil Rig Driller, Oil Well Driller, Relief Driller, Tool Pusher


  • Train crews, and introduce procedures to make drill work more safe and effective.
  • Observe pressure gauge and move throttles and levers to control the speed of rotary tables, and to regulate pressure of tools at bottoms of boreholes.
  • Count sections of drill rod to determine depths of boreholes.
  • Push levers and brake pedals to control gasoline, diesel, electric, or steam draw works that lower and raise drill pipes and casings in and out of wells.
  • Connect sections of drill pipe, using hand tools and powered wrenches and tongs.
  • Maintain records of footage drilled, location and nature of strata penetrated, materials and tools used, services rendered, and time required.
  • Maintain and adjust machinery to ensure proper performance.
  • Start and examine operation of slush pumps to ensure circulation and consistency of drilling fluid or mud in well.
  • Locate and recover lost or broken bits, casings, and drill pipes from wells, using special tools.
  • Weigh clay, and mix with water and chemicals to make drilling mud.
  • Direct rig crews in drilling and other activities, such as setting up rigs and completing or servicing wells.
  • Monitor progress of drilling operations, and select and change drill bits according to the nature of strata, using hand tools.
  • Repair or replace defective parts of machinery, such as rotary drill rigs, water trucks, air compressors, and pumps, using hand tools.
  • Clean and oil pulleys, blocks, and cables.
  • Bolt together pump and engine parts, and connect tanks and flow lines.
  • Remove core samples during drilling to determine the nature of the strata being drilled.
  • Cap wells with packers, or turn valves, to regulate outflow of oil from wells.
  • Line drilled holes with pipes, and install all necessary hardware, to prepare new wells.
  • Position and prepare truck-mounted derricks at drilling areas specified on field maps.
  • Plug observation wells, and restore sites.
  • Lower and explode charges in boreholes to start flow of oil from wells.

Technology Skills

  • Analytical or scientific software - Schlumberger Petrel E&P
  • Data base user interface and query software - Drillingsoftware Tubular Database; Pason WellView Field Solution
  • Industrial control software - CAPSHER Technology SureTec; Drillingsoftware DrillPro
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • Air compressors - Portable air compressors
  • Blocks or pulleys - Traveling blocks
  • Blowout preventer controls - Accumulator systems
  • Blowout preventers - Oil well blowout preventers
  • Carbon steel pipe spectacle blind flange - Pipe covering blind flanges
  • Casing head spool - Adapter spools; Drilling spools; Spacer spools
  • Cement pumping units - Cement pumping equipment
  • Choke manifolds
  • Claw hammer - Claw hammers
  • Crown blocks - Oil rig crown blocks
  • Derricks - Truck mounted derricks
  • Detonators - Explosives detonating equipment
  • Diesel engines - Rig diesel engines
  • Downhole fishing poles - Downhole fishing tools
  • Drawworks - Chain driven draw works; Drilling draw works; Gear driven draw works
  • Drill collars - Drilling collars
  • Drill pipe - Oil drilling pipes
  • Drill rig rotary tables - Drilling rig rotary tables
  • Drill swivels - Drilling swivels
  • Drilling casings - Drill casings; Pipe slips
  • Electric rotary converters - Silicon controlled rectifiers SCR
  • Flowmeters - Multiphase flowmeters
  • Gas engines - Gasoline engines
  • Hard hats
  • Hoists - Air hoists
  • Impact wrenches - Power wrenches
  • Industrial drill bits - Well drill bits
  • Makeup tongs - Drill pipe tongs
  • Mud mixers - Drilling mud mixers; Mud mixing equipment
  • Mud pumps - Slush pumps
  • Oilfield cementing tools - Well cementing units
  • Packers or tubing anchors - Well packers
  • Personal computers
  • Pipe handling equipment - Stuck pipe tools
  • Pressure indicators - Pressure recorders
  • Rotary drills - Rotary drilling rigs
  • Safety glasses - Protective safety glasses
  • Safety harnesses or belts - Fall arrest systems; Protective harnesses
  • Safety vests - Reflective vests
  • Specialty wrenches - Hammer wrenches
  • Taglines - Lifting taglines
  • Torque wrenches - Hydraulic torque wrenches
  • Tubing head adapter - Double studded adapters
  • Two way radios - Mobile radios
  • Wellhead production chokes - Drilling chokes
  • Wellhead tees or crosses - Drilling crosses


  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Personnel and Human Resources - Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.


  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Equipment Maintenance - Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
  • Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Repairing - Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
  • Troubleshooting - Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.


  • Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Multilimb Coordination - The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Rate Control - The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Auditory Attention - The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Perceptual Speed - The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Reaction Time - The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.


  • Interest code: REC
    • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
    • Enterprising - Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
    • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Work Context

  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 98% responded “Every day.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 97% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 94% responded “Every day.”
  • Outdoors, Exposed to Weather - 97% responded “Every day.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable - 86% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 86% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 89% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants - 71% responded “Every day.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 75% responded “Very important results.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 69% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results - 71% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 65% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 63% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Consequence of Error - 70% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Very Hot or Cold Temperatures - 72% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment - 66% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 60% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Contact With Others - 66% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Level of Competition - 57% responded “Extremely competitive.”
  • Spend Time Standing - 61% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions - 60% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 43% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Physical Proximity - 80% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Time Pressure - 41% responded “Every day.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 38% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Exposed to Whole Body Vibration - 51% responded “Every day.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 47% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Exposed to High Places - 39% responded “Every day.”
  • Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment - 40% responded “Extremely important.”
  • In an Open Vehicle or Equipment - 37% responded “Every day.”
  • Outdoors, Under Cover - 19% responded “Never.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions - 35% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings - 44% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone - 33% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting - 47% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Specialized Protective or Safety Equipment such as Breathing Apparatus, Safety Harness, Full Protection Suits, or Radiation Protection - 46% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body - 37% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions - 39% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Deal With External Customers - 41% responded “Important.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations - 30% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled - 42% responded “Every day.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People - 29% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Letters and Memos - 45% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
31%Less than high school diploma
29%High school diploma or equivalent
22%Some college, no degree

Work Styles

  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Social Orientation - Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.

Work Values

  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Relationships - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Working Conditions - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $25.95 hourly, $53,980 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 17,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Much faster than average (15% or higher)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 2,600

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