What Is an Offshore Roustabout?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2019
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An offshore roustabout is a member of the crew on an oil rig or ship used for oil and gas exploration. This is an entry-level position that might act as a bridge to more senior positions on oil and gas crews. Roustabouts typically do not need to meet any special education requirements beyond having a high school diploma, because they receive their training on the job. This work does require a high level of physical fitness and can expose people to extreme weather conditions such as heat, cold, snow and heavy rain.

These oil and gas personnel act as general hands on offshore rigs. The offshore roustabout can clean up oil spills on deck, secure and check connections, assist members of the crew and implement safety procedures. The work also can include securing goods on deck, monitoring activities and facilitating communication between different members of the crew. A new roustabout, known as a greenhand, receives close supervision while developing job skills. More experienced offshore roustabouts can work more independently and might eventually apply for better positions on the crew.


Some safety training and certification is required to work as an offshore roustabout. Greenhands will receive their training on the job and can apply for certification, and experienced roustabouts might need to present evidence of successful completion of training before they can start work. An offshore roustabout who has additional certifications might be more employable on some rigs, because the certifications demonstrate familiarity with the health and safety issues on board.

Oil companies regularly post job listings, including offshore roustabout positions. The listing should provide information about any requirements that applicants need to meet and might discuss compensation and benefits. The ability to travel is generally necessary, because employment opportunities near a person's home might be limited. People who live in regions where offshore drilling occurs in close proximity might not necessarily end up working on those rigs, because they need to follow employment opportunities, wherever they might appear.

Members of oil and gas crews receive varying wages and benefits, depending on the company they work for and where they work. Some crews are very well compensated, including lower-ranking members. The oil company might also provide respite and vacation time for workers who are stationed at offshore locations, and transport to shore is provided to allow people to spend some time off the rig.


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