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Rotary Drill Operator

On a daily basis, Oil and Gas Drill Operators train crews, and introduce procedures to make drill work more safe and effective. They 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. One of the main responsibilities as an oil and gas drill operator is to count sections of drill rod to determine depths of boreholes. Some may also 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. In a normal work day, another thing that Oil and Gas Drill Operators do is they connect sections of drill pipe, using hand tools and powered wrenches and tongs. In addition to that, they maintain records of footage drilled.

Job Description

  • Set up and operate a variety of drillsto remove underground oil and gas, or remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.
  • Train crews, and introduce procedures to make drillwork more safe and effective.

Job Growth

Employment of rotary drill operators is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Education and Experience

The typical level of education required for entry into oil and gas occupations is a high school diploma. Some employers prefer to hire graduates of high school vocational programs in which students learn such skills as basic mechanics, welding, and heavy equipment operations. They also prefer someone who is good in critical thinkingand operation monitoring.

There is moderate-term on-the-job training, which lasts from a few months to one year.

You may also be required to know how to use certain industrial control software and data base user interface and query software tools.

Career Progression

Most workers start as helpers to experienced workers and learn skills on the job. As workers gain more experience, they can move up to higher paying jobs that require greater skill. For example, a roustabout may become a rotary helper and advance to derrick operator and then driller. A similar progression is available to service workers as well. Workers who have gained experience as part of a land crew might advance to offshore operations.


Rotary drill operators in Oklahoma earn a median hourly wage of $25.29. The average salary is around $52,610 per year. Wages typically start from $30,270 and go up to $80,290.


Last Modified on Mar 15, 2023
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