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What Oil and Gas Workers Do

Oil and gas workers carry out the plans for drilling that petroleum engineers have designed. Drilling workers operate the equipment that drills the well through the soil and rock formation, and they prepare the well for use. Service workers then finish preparing the well and assemble the equipment that removes the oil or gas from the well.


Oil and gas workers include roustabouts, derrick operators, service unit operators, and rotary drill operators.

Roustabouts typically do the following:

Derrick operators typically do the following:

Service unit operators typically do the following:

Rotary drill operators, also known as drillers, typically do the following:

Rotary drilling crews do most of the work in oil fields. Most workers involved in gas processing are known as operators.

Additional occupations on drilling crews are as follows:

Engine operators are in charge of engines that provide the power for well site operations. They also do general maintenance of the engines and keep the rig equipment lubricated.

Pumpers operate and maintain the equipment that regulates the flow of oil out of the well.

Gas treaters oversee automatic treating units that remove water and other impurities from natural gas.

Gas-pumping-station operators tend compressors that raise the pressure of gas to send it through pipelines.

Gas-compressor operators often assist gas treaters and gas-pumping-station operators.

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