Job description

Roustabouts maintain oil fields by cleaning pipe deck and main deck areas, as well as tools and equipment such as drills and pumps. They also assemble, service and repair equipment and machinery like pipes, boilers and engine parts.

Roustabouts also have the responsibility to tidy and clear loose pipe and debris from the working area, guide cranes, and load, offload and stack supplies using truck winches and motorised lifts.


    • Clean pipe decks and main deck areas
    • Clean tools, equipment and materials like drills and pumps
    • Assemble, service and repair equipment like pipes and boilers
    • Clear loose pipes and debris from the working area
    • Guide cranes to move loads
    • Load, offload and stack supplies using truck winches and motorised lifts
    • Locate any leaks through visual inspections or electronic detectors
    • Provide assistance to roughnecks
    • Dig drainage ditches

Skills and qualities

Physical stamina
Physical strength
Attention to detail

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk


Career progression

With enough skill, knowledge and experience, some roustabouts move on to become crane operators or roughnecks. There is also the opportunity to advance to positions such as derrickman or assistant driller, after some extensive training.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Shift Work

On a rota

Roustabouts work for oil companies in various oil fields and offshore rigs. The role can be physically demanding, as you lift and carry several heavy materials. Roustabouts also deal with heights, and they must work outdoors in a variety of undesirable weather conditions.

The working environment is often messy and dirty, and you may need to wear protective and safety clothing, such as hard hats and protective gloves, throughout the working day.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

High school

On-the-job training

Study time

3 months

There are no formal education requirements in order to become a roustabout, and a high school diploma is usually sufficient. Training is provided on the job and usually involves basic offshore induction and emergency training.

Some oil companies require candidates to have an offshore medical certificate and/or a Transportation Worker Identification Credential from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Previous experience in areas such as shipbuilding, construction or engineering can prove useful.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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