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Occupation: Drilling Rig Specialist

(Roustabout, Roughneck/Floorhand, Derrickhand, Driller, Toolpusher)

Drilling rig specialists work on the drill floor of offshore drilling rigs.  This group of specialists refer to several specific occupation titles, including:  Roustabout, Roughneck/Floorhand, Derrickhand, Driller and Toolpusher.

  • Roustabout is an entry-level position on the drilling floor. Roustabouts are responsible for the rigging and slinging of all loads lifted by the cranes.
  • Roughnecks are responsible for the operation and routine maintenance of all drill string handling and hoisting equipment.
  • Derrickhands are responsible for the operation, monitoring and maintenance of all drilling fluid systems and associated equipment. Derrickhands may also work high up in the drilling tower (called the derrick).
  • Drillers supervise the work on the drill floor and are responsible for the operation of the rig floor equipment, the mud circulating system and blow out prevention/well control equipment.
  • Toolpushers oversee the work of the drilling crew and are responsible for ensuring that all aspects of the drilling operation are being carried out in a safe and efficient manner.

Completion of a two or three-year college program in a technical field is an asset when working as part of the drilling rig crew.  As with all offshore jobs, there are required safety courses that must be completed prior to working in this field.  Workers gain training and qualifications through on-the-job experience. This helps them progress through various levels of the drilling crew.  With experience, workers can move from the entry-level position of Roustabout through the ranks to Floorhand and Derrickhand, into the senior positions of Driller and Toolpusher.

There is currently no post-secondary training program directly related to these occupations in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.   The most directly related training for entry level occupations within the drilling rig crew is the Rig Technician skilled trades apprenticeship program available in several western Canadian Colleges.   Three locations are listed below:

Program: Rig Technician



Three years (apprenticeship with 1500 hours on-the-job training and four weeks classroom training each year)

Entrance Requirements:

  • Individuals must currently be employed as a junior member of a drilling rig crew (Roughneck, Floorhand or Leasehand) or must find an employer willing to hire them as an apprentice.

Program Description:

The Rig Technician program is a skilled trades apprenticeship program designed to certify drilling rig workers.  The program has three levels of credentials. The first year prepares students for the occupation of Assistant Derrickhand (Motorhand). The second year focuses on the occupation of Derrickhand. The third year focuses on the occupation of Driller. Rig Technician apprentices log 1500 hours on-the-job training and complete a 4-week college course for each level of training.


Rig Technician program graduates are eligible to become certificated as a journeyperson rig technician. This certification is available to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador through the Department of Education skilled trades certification process. The Rig Technician trade is also an Interprovincial Red Seal Certification Trade.