Roustabout jobs are the entry-level jobs on oil rigs. On most oil rigs, you work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 2 to 3 weeks at a stretch. Working as a roustabout is back-breaking and dirty – you do everything from cleaning and painting the oil rig to mixing the drilling mud and even moving supplies and equipment around the oil rig. On the other hand, practically everyone who matters on board the oil rig starts out as a roustabout, so you have no right to complain.
For English-speaking workers, there are three main places which hire people for roustabout jobs – Canada, US and UK. Alberta in Canada is still short of people, so it is easiest to get hired there. As long as you are tough enough and show the right attitude, many companies will be willing to pay for any courses or certifications which are required.
At the moment, it is also fairly easy to get offshore roustabout jobs in the US, especially in the Gulf Coast region. In some places, it is as simple as showing up at the temp agency. As in Canada, many companies badly need workers and are willing to pay for any training and certifications required. As a rough guide, your employer will send you to get your in offshore medical certificate, offshore survival certificate and helicopter underwater escape training certificate before you even set foot on the oil rig. After that will probably be a 2 or 3 week course induction course on your duties aboard the oil rig.
UK residents have it tougher. Most employers want you to show your BOSIET offshore survival training certificate, offshore medical certificate, and what the Brits call a GreenHand course. All told, taking getting all of these could set you back 3500 pounds, depending on where you take these course, and there is no guarantee of a job. The offshore scene there is surprisingly small – you really need to know the right people. Most of the jobs are off Aberdeen, so if you live elsewhere you really do not have a chance at all. For new hires without connections, the ex-armed forces personnel find it easiest to break in. British servicemen have a kind of skills conversion course which helps them get offshore oil jobs. Frankly, UK residents who want to break into the oil industry are better off looking for jobs in Alberta or the US Gulf Coast states.
When you apply for roustabout jobs, remember to highlight work experience which involves manual work and mechanical work. If you have any survival training or something like the BOSIET or HUET certificates, highlight these as well. Remember that roustabouts do a lot of manual labor, so do NOT brag about your university degree or some other highly technical skill – the employer may reject you for being over-qualified. Some companies now want you to prove that you have completed your high school education. Regardless of who you work for, there will be frequent drug-testing, especially if any accidents happen.