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Rotary Drill Operator

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All About Rotary Drill Operators

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.

Drill Operator Responsibilities

  • Clean and oil pulleys, blocks, and cables.
  • 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.
  • Weigh clay, and mix with water and chemicals to make drilling mud.
  • Repair or replace defective parts of machinery, such as rotary drill rigs, water trucks, air compressors, and pumps, using hand tools.
  • Observe pressure gauge and move throttles and levers to control the speed of rotary tables, and to regulate pressure of tools at bottoms of boreholes.

What Skills Do You Need to Work as a Drill Operator?

These are the skills Rotary Drill Operators say are the most useful in their careers:

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 Rotary Drill Operator

  • Drilling Field Operator
  • Well Driller
  • Drilling Supervisor
  • Blast Driller
  • Floor Hand

Job 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.


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.

Drill Operator Salary

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


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

How much do Rotary Drill Operators make 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 & Technology do Rotary Drill Operators Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Rotary Drill Operators may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word

How to Become a Drill Operator

What kind of Rotary Drill Operator requirements are there?


What work experience do I need to become a Drill Operator?


Rotary Drill Operators Sector


The table below shows the approximate number of Rotary Drill Operators employed by various industries.


Similar Careers

Those interested in being a Rotary Drill Operator may also be interested in:


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

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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