Roustabout Job Overview
The term "roustabout" generally means an unskilled or casual laborer, but it most commonly refers to someone who handles basic physical labor and maintenance tasks on oil rigs and pipelines. Also called roughnecks, roustabouts handle routine tasks, such as sweeping, painting, mopping, and drill repair.
Roustabouts often work closely with oil pumpers and mechanics. They typically work under close supervision and may work long shifts in dangerous conditions. For roustabouts who work on rigs, a typical shift is 12 hours on, 12 hours off for two or three weeks at time. They then usually have two weeks off the rig before the next work cycle. Work-related hazards include extreme weather conditions, ocean storms, explosions, and possible attacks in unstable regions. Related jobs include handyman jobs and maintenance machinist jobs.
Roustabout Job Education Requirements
Most roustabout jobs don't have any educational requirements. Some oil companies prefer applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers also typically prefer applicants with experience in the oil and gas industry. Roustabouts who complete formal training courses tend to earn higher salaries. These training courses are brief, lasting about a month in most cases, and educate students on the operations of an oil rig and safety practices.
Roustabout Job Market
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of roustabouts has declined by 3.2 percent in the last decade. However, baby boomers in the field will retire en masse in coming years, leading to more openings. Similarly, the steadily increasing demand for oil is likely to lead to a rising demand for oil field workers as well.
Roustabout Job Salary Information
For workers with minimal education, roustabout positions pay fairly well. According to the BLS, the median salary for a roustabout in 2014 was $35,780. Roustabouts in the 90th percentile for earnings made an average of $55,920, while those in the 10th percentile made $23,900.