Find Schools

Study Area & Zipcode

Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas

Find Schools Near

What You Need to Know About Rotary Drill Operators

Position 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

  • Bolt together pump and engine parts, and connect tanks and flow lines.
  • Repair or replace defective parts of machinery, such as rotary drill rigs, water trucks, air compressors, and pumps, using hand tools.
  • Line drilled holes with pipes, and install all necessary hardware, to prepare new wells.
  • Weigh clay, and mix with water and chemicals to make drilling mud.
  • Lower and explode charges in boreholes to start flow of oil from wells.
  • Cap wells with packers, or turn valves, to regulate outflow of oil from wells.

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

When polled, Rotary Drill Operators say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

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

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

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

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

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 Operators

  • Geotechnical Driller
  • Blast Driller
  • Rig Operator
  • Cable Tool Driller
  • Cable Tool Operator

Job Outlook for Rotary Drill Operators

There were about 16,700 jobs for Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas in 2016 (in the United States).

New jobs are being produced at a rate of 24.2% which is lower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 4,000 new jobs for Rotary Drill Operators 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 Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas are Texas, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.

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.

Salary for Rotary Drill Operators

The salary for Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas ranges between about $32,110 and $87,790 a year. The median salary is $53,800.

Salary Ranges for Rotary Drill Operators

How much do Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas make in each U.S. state?

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary







North Dakota














West Virginia




New York
















New Mexico










Tools & Technologies Used by Rotary Drill Operators

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

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel

Becoming 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 Work

Drill Operator Sectors

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

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

  • Boilermakers


Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

Find Schools Near You

Our free school finder has matched thousands of students with colleges.