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Rotary Drill Operator

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Life As a Rotary Drill Operator

Drill Operator Job Description Set up or operate a variety of drills to remove underground oil and gas, or remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.

A Day in the Life of a Drill Operator

  • Maintain and adjust machinery to ensure proper performance.
  • Lower and explode charges in boreholes to start flow of oil from wells.
  • Monitor progress of drilling operations, and select and change drill bits according to the nature of strata, using hand tools.
  • Position and prepare truck-mounted derricks at drilling areas specified on field maps.
  • Bolt together pump and engine parts, and connect tanks and flow lines.
  • Direct rig crews in drilling and other activities, such as setting up rigs and completing or servicing wells.

Drill Operator Skills

Rotary Drill Operators state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Instructing: Teaching others how to do something.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Types of Drill Operator Jobs

  • Driller
  • Back Up Worker
  • Blast Driller
  • Cable Driller
  • Motor Man

Is There Going to be Demand for Rotary Drill Operators?

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 16,700 jobs in the United States for Rotary Drill Operator. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 24.6% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 4,100 new jobs for Rotary Drill Operator by 2026. There will be an estimated 2,600 positions for Drill Operator per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Rotary Drill Operators in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Drill Operator are Wyoming, North Dakota, and Georgia. Watch out if you plan on working in West Virginia, Nebraska, or Indiana. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Drill Operator Make?

The average yearly salary of a Drill Operator ranges between $32,110 and $87,790.

Salary Ranges for Rotary Drill Operators

Rotary Drill Operators who work in Alaska, Indiana, or North Dakota, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Rotary Drill Operators in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $42,450
Alaska $74,290
Arizona $48,650
Arkansas $43,870
California $66,630
Colorado $55,870
Florida $47,130
Georgia $34,310
Illinois $45,100
Indiana $67,000
Kansas $44,920
Louisiana $52,520
Maryland $56,540
Michigan $41,080
New Mexico $44,540
New York $53,120
North Dakota $66,440
Ohio $45,210
Oklahoma $57,620
Pennsylvania $54,040
Texas $56,490
Utah $56,700
Virginia $52,530
West Virginia $55,790
Wyoming $61,510

What Tools do Rotary Drill Operators Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Rotary Drill Operators:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word

How do I Become a Drill Operator?

What education is needed to be a Rotary Drill Operator?

Drill Operator Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Drill Operator Work Experience

Where Rotary Drill Operators Are Employed

Drill Operator Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Drill Operator Industries

Those thinking about becoming a Rotary Drill Operator might also be interested in the following careers:


Image Credit: Tomwsulcer via Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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