Careers > Working on a Drilling Rig

Working on a Drilling Rig

A Vital Part of the Petroleum Industry

The oil and gas industry could not exist without a means of harvesting hydrocarbons from beneath the ground. An oil rig’s skyward derrick has long been the towering symbol of what is a great tradition; one that embodies a maverick spirit of innovation, tenacity, and the resolve to never say die. Black Gold has long been sought after by those willing to endure the risks—many of whom never saw the reward—and the drilling industry has seen an evolution like few others. The pursuit of oil and gas was transformed from a dangerous guessing game into what is now a technologically advanced, multi-billion dollar global enterprise.

A Vital Part of the Petroleum Industry

What Does It Take to Work on a Drilling Rig?

Click here to Take the Rig Life Quiz

What Will I Need to Work on a Drilling Rig?

Before starting a career in the oilfield service industry, a drilling rig employee is required to possess a few key requirements:

  • Legally eligible to work in either Canada, the United States or Australia
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Be physically fit
  • Have the means to support themselves for the first few weeks until they receive their first paycheck (cover costs for hotels, meals, fuel)
  • Possess required work gear or the means to obtain required work gear (see below)
  • If in Canada, possess a valid H2S alive certificate and First Aid certificate (see below)

Required Work Gear

The following is a list of seasonal work gear worn by drilling rig workers. Savanna supplies rig employees with coveralls and a hard hat.


  • CSA approved steel toed boots
  • Summer weight coveralls (fire retardant with reflective safety striping) (in Canada only)
  • Safety glasses (Supplied in Canada only)
  • ANSI approved hard hat (Supplied in Canada only)
  • 1 bag of rubber gloves
  •  Rain jacket
  • Duffle bag
  • Rubber Boots- Steel toed CSA approved
  • Under coverall clothing (cotton blends, no polyester, no hoodies)


  • CSA approved winter steel toed boots
  • Winter weight coveralls (fire retardant with reflective safety striping) (supplied in Canada only)
  • ANSI approved lined hard hat (supplied in Canada only)
  • Rubber gloves with liners
  • Bama socks
  • Rain pants
  • Weather proof top and bottom (fire retardant)
  • Warm under coverall clothing (cotton blends, no polyester, no hoodies)
  • Safety glasses (supplied in Canada only)
  • Duffle bag

Rig Crew and Schedule

Drilling rig crews are generally made up of six (6) people: Rig Manager, Driller, Derrickhand, Motorhand, Floorhand, and Leasehand (Roughneck). Each crew works 12 hours shifts as the rig operates 24 hours per day, and each position is vital to the operation of the rig.

Throughout a regular work day, entry level positions (Floorhand and Leasehand) can expect to perform the following duties:

  • Driving the crew truck
  • Cleaning and maintaining the “lease”(rig location)
  • Cleaning and maintaining the rig floor
  • Keeping the rig stairs free of debris
  • Cleaning and maintaining the rig and its equipment
  • Assisting in moving the rig to and from locations (“rigging up” and “rigging out”)
  • Following all company safety regulations
  • Cleaning the doghouse (rig office) and tool house
  • Taking mud samples
  • Handling drill pipe (Floorhand)
  • Working on the rig floor (Floorhand)
  • Making and breaking joints of pipe using tongs (Floorhand)
  • Assisting other crew members with their tasks

Getting to and from the Rig

To work on a drilling rig, you must be able to get to and from all of your work locations with the exception being fly-in locations.

As drilling often occurs in remote areas, having reliable transportation is considered mandatory for non-camp locations. Drilling rigs commonly operate 24 hours per day, 7 days per week with either three crews working 8 hour shifts or two crews working 12 hour shifts. Most often day crews and night crews will alternate weekly so each crew has a chance to work during both the day and night. Most crews will work 14 days straight with 7 days off in-between. The typical living situation while working falls into two categories: Camp and Non-Camp. When the rig site is near a town, non-camp conditions normally apply, and crews will stay in hotel rooms and receive a per day living allowance for food and accommodation. The living allowance is paid out on your paycheck based upon days worked, therefore you will need to be able to pay for your food and accommodation out of your own pocket. In the instance of remote sites, crews will live in a camp where their food and accommodation is paid for. Once at the camp, the crew travels to and from the rig in the crew truck. Almost all camp work is available in the winter only.


Drilling rig employees are typically paid every two weeks via direct bank deposit. Savanna employees are also eligible for an excellent benefits package including life insurance, AD&D, medical, dental, vision. This is available from day one in Canada and Australia, and after 90 days in the US.


Once you have completed your orientation, you will immediately receive any other necessary training. This involves Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG), along with an in-depth General Safety Orientation. This training is mandatory but is of no cost to the employee. Job-related, hands on training is conducted in the field through Savanna’s Rig Mentoring Program.

* First Aid: While it is not mandatory to have this certification, each service rig crew is required to have two members who are certified in Standard First Aid with CPR level C. Therefore, obtaining a certification beforehand is a great way to improve your chances of being hired.


At Savanna, there is an excellent opportunity for good quality employees to quickly advance to more senior positions as we operate one of the largest drilling rig fleets in Canada. Rig technician is a designated trade, and in order to become a Motorhand, Derrickhand, or Driller, you must be enrolled in the Apprenticeship Program. Savanna’s recruiters can provide you with more information.

Substance Abuse Policy

Savanna Energy Services Corp. requires all of its employees to maintain a work environment free of alcohol and drugs. All potential employees must successfully complete a substance abuse screening and rigorous physical test prior to employment. All Savanna Energy Services Corporation employees are required to follow Savanna’s drug and alcohol policy at all times.

Canadian Operations

Courses You Need to Take


eGSO is a free, short online general safety orientation program for all employees in the petroleum industry. By June 2014, all employees working in the industry will be required to hold an Enform eGSO certification. Click here to register with Enform Connect and take the course.

H2S Alive

Some well locations have sour gas (Hydrogen Sulfide or H2S) present which is extremely dangerous. All employees are required to possess a valid H2S certificate regardless of whether they are working on a sour gas well. This can be obtained by signing up for and completing a one day (8 hour) course.

Courses are available at various locations across the province. For more information, contact Enform at (403) 250-9606 ( or Leduc Safety Service at (780) 955 3300 ( The cost of the course is usually between $130 and $150 plus tax, and the certification is valid for three years.

Canadian Spring Break-Up

Work in the oil and gas services industry is seasonal. Because of the weight of rigs and their equipment, and the remote location of wells, these locations are often only accessible when the ground conditions can tolerate heavy loads. Therefore, wells are typically drilled and serviced in the winter when the ground is frozen solid, or in the summer, when the ground has thawed and dried sufficiently. During the spring and fall, when the ground is in a transitional state, it is too soft to move equipment on and easily damaged. For this reason, provincial governments implement “road bans” prohibiting heavy loads from operating in certain areas. During this time, rig work is slower, and many rigs are shut down and their crews sent home. Be prepared to be off for anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks without pay during this time. However, rigs that are shut down are usually in need of maintenance, and there may be opportunities for employees who would like to help out in this regard. Employees may be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits during seasonal shutdowns.