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Career Profile: Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas

Rig derrick equipment and operate pumps to circulate mud or fluid through drill hole.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 9,000 people employed as derrick operators, oil and gas in the United States. The median annual salary is $47,900. Entry level employees earn approximately $33,860 per year and senior employees earn approximately $69,820 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Inspect derricks, or order their inspection, prior to being raised or lowered.
  • Inspect derricks for flaws, and clean and oil derricks to maintain proper working conditions.
  • Control the viscosity and weight of the drilling fluid.
  • Repair pumps, mud tanks, and related equipment.
  • Set and bolt crown blocks to posts at tops of derricks.
  • Listen to mud pumps and check regularly for vibration and other problems to ensure that rig pumps and drilling mud systems are working properly.
  • Start pumps that circulate mud through drill pipes and boreholes to cool drill bits and flush out drill cuttings.
  • Position and align derrick elements, using harnesses and platform climbing devices.
  • Supervise crew members, and provide assistance in training them.
  • Guide lengths of pipe into and out of elevators.
  • Prepare mud reports, and instruct crews about the handling of any chemical additives.
  • Clamp holding fixtures on ends of hoisting cables.
  • Weigh clay, and mix with water and chemicals to make drilling mud, using portable mixers.
  • String cables through pulleys and blocks.
  • Steady pipes during connection to or disconnection from drill or casing strings.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
9,000
Annual Openings:
1,500
Increase in Openings by 2030:
30%
Annual Salary Range:
$33,860 - $69,820
Education Requirements:
Some high school