What are the Different Roustabout Jobs?

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  • Written By: Sonal Panse
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2020
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The entry-level, unskilled or semi-skilled manual jobs on an oil rig are called roustabout jobs. Roustabouts may also be known as roughnecks, floorhands or leasehands. There may be two or three roustabouts in an oil rig crew and they are expected to do all the grunt work on the oil rig.

There are many different types of entry level roustabout jobs. Roustabout oil jobs may include cleaning decks, scraping away rust and painting the oil rig, or moving around supplies, machinery and equipment from one site to another. A roustabout job may also include digging trenches and cleaning out drains.

Roustabout jobs may involve cleaning and lubricating threads, doing welding work, and assembling or repairing oil rig equipment. Roustabouts may be required to carry out basic maintenance work, and assist with obtaining and testing drilling samples. They may operate air, water and mud pumps.

Other roustabout jobs include attaching and checking water and air hoses, and power supply cables. Roustabouts may mix and pour concrete. They must ensure that there are no safety hazards lying around,and be willing to perform just about any kind of oil rig tasks that are assigned to them.

Roustabout oil rig jobs are physically demanding, sometimes dangerous and the work hours can be long. Roustabouts may have to work seven days a week for up to 10 or 12 hours. They work outdoors mostly and in all kinds of weather.


The work requires strong, energetic people with plenty of stamina and good attitude. It's important to have a positive work ethic, be a quick learner, and be able to take and follow instructions. Experienced roustabouts can, in time, move up the ladder to work in the crew positions on an oil rig.

There are plenty of roustabout job openings. It is not necessary to have a college degree for roustabout jobs, but some oil companies may require a high school diploma. It is a definite plus to have a Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET) certificate or the Helicopter Survival Course (HUET) certificate, and having experience with mechanical and manual work helps.

A medical certificate attesting good physical condition is essential. Given the arduous nature of the work, people with drug or alcohol issues will not be considered. Many companies may carry out routine drug tests to ensure their employees are clean.

Selected roustabouts usually undergo roustabout job training for two or three weeks before they are put to work on an oil rig. Roustabouts may be housed and fed on or near the work site. They receive high salaries and many fringe benefits.


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Discuss this Article

Post 1

I knew what a carnival roustabout was, and all I could think about when reading the article was the Elvis movie of the same name.

I did not know, however, that unskilled jobs on an oil rig are called roustabout jobs, too. I never really thought about it. I think the term has always applied to catch-as-catch-can sorts of jobs that primarily require a strong back and hard work, so that makes sense.

Oil rig workers have a tough life. Most of them are well paid, but I don't know if I would want my loved ones to take those kinds of risks. It's a tough, dangerous job.

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