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How to Become an Oil and Gas Worker

Workers in oil and gas occupations usually must be at least 18 years old, be in good physical condition, and pass a drug test. A high school diploma is not necessarily required but is preferred by some employers.


The typical level of education required for entry into oil and gas occupations is less than a high school diploma. However, 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.

Important Qualities

Depth perception. The skill required to move large and heavy pieces of equipment or machinery also requires depth perception. The safety of other workers may depend on it as well.

Detail oriented. Oil and gas workers use equipment that must be carefully watched. Engineers need the information collected by monitoring gauges to judge the effectiveness of drilling operations.

Eye-hand coordination. These workers need an ability to move large pieces of machinery or equipment into exact placement.

Interpersonal skills. These workers operate in teams, so listening to and interacting with other team members and to supervisors is important.

Physical strength. Oil and gas workers must have the strength to move heavy equipment, materials, and machinery.


There are few formal education requirements for oil and gas workers. However, they need a lot of job training and experience before they can do most tasks or advance to more skilled positions.

Most workers start as helpers to experienced workers and learn skills on the job. However, formal training is becoming more important as more technologically advanced machinery and methods are increasingly used.


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.  

Because of the extreme environment and critical nature of the work, offshore oil crews generally are more experienced than land crews. For work on an offshore rig, many companies hire only workers who are already experienced in oilfield operations. As a result, workers who have gained experience as part of a land crew might advance to offshore operations. Positions are usually filled on the basis of seniority and ability.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition