What You Need To Know About Working On An Oil Rig


Do you want to enter a booming field with the potential for rapid career advancement?

Do you like working outdoors and keeping fit while on the job?

Would you be willing to relocate every few weeks or months?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, a career as an oil rig technician could be right for you.

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CADOC) is the voice of the Canadian drilling and service rig industry. Almost all drilling and service rig companies operating in Canada are members of CADOC. The association explains the differences between drilling rigs and service rigs in a handy chart.

Drilling rigs

Drilling rigs explore new areas to tap for oil.

Crews work long hours, usually organized into a two-weeks stretch called a ‘hitch’.

Drilling rigs operate 24/7, so sometimes your hitch will include overnight shifts. It’s a demanding schedule, but after you work your hitch, you will be rewarded with a full seven days of vacation.

The extended time off is great for crew members who would like to travel home regularly to see family and friends. Once the oil well has been proven to produce oil, the drilling crews dismantle their rig and leave to prospect a new well.

Working on drilling rigs means you’ll likely be moving to a different place every few months.

In some cases, employers provide a camp for workers to live in.

Camps range from rustic ‘Texas Camps’ where crew are responsible for their own cooking and cleaning, to full-service lodge-style camps, where crew enjoy in-room wifi, 24-hour gourmet cafeterias, housekeeping services and entertainment options like movie theatres and volleyball courts.

It is worth noting that some camps are ‘dry’, meaning alcohol is not allowed on the premises. Employers and camp operators often discourage the presence of alcohol in the camps, as it can cause social problems and lead to poor work performance.

If your employer does not provide a camp, you will be given a subsistence allowance to cover accommodation that you find on your own. CADOC recommends this allowance to be $140 per day.

Service rigs

Once a well has been proven to produce oil, the drilling crew leave and service rig crew will come in to set up smaller service rigs.

As a service rig crew member, you will work an average of 8-12 hours per day, starting in the early morning and finishing in the afternoon or early evening.

You will likely have some days off each week but not the extended breaks of a drilling rig crew.

Service rigs move location every few days to every few weeks, so you’ll constantly be on the move. Oftentimes, you’ll relocate to a well that is close by, so you won’t need to move accommodations quite as frequently as you move job sites.

Service rig employers generally do not provide accommodations, but they will pay you a subsistence allowance of approximately $50 per day and they will pay you for your travel time. You may also be eligible for work and training bonuses.

Want to learn more about starting a career in oil and gas? Explore TalentEgg’s Petroleum Career Guide here!

About the author

Shannon Mandel is a Marketing and Editorial intern at TalentEgg. A proud graduate of the #CCPR program at Centennial College, Shannon also holds a BA in Geography and a B.Ed from York University. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys feeding her Pinterest addiction and cooking with lots of butter. You can connect with her through Twitter or on LinkedIn.