Need work? Roustabouts in Demand

Even though employment grew in December 2011 and the jobless rate dropped to a near three-year low of 8.5 percent -- its lowest since February 2009 -- gaining employment is tough in all sectors worldwide, especially for those with no college degree. Yet, drilling contractors are scrambling to fill jobs as Baby Boomers retire.

"The oil field had attitude if things got tough with boomers and the industry started seeing labor shortages, it could go to other areas of the world to pick up roughnecks," Reg MacDonald, CEO and President of Maritime Drilling Schools said, "but it is a world-wide problem. We need more people trained and working in the field or the industry is going to be limited as far as drilling because there's not going to be people to do it."

According to the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada, 100,000 new workers will be needed over the next decade. Trades people will be in high demand over the next 10 years, the release stated, but oil and gas drilling and services field workers are at the top of the list and are needed immediately.

As demand for oil and gas rises, demand for more oil field workers rises too. Hard workers, regardless of background, are needed to fill these positions, especially offshore, but they need proper training. Entrepreneurs have capitalized on this void and have opened roughneck training schools. Instead of four years at a university, short training courses can prepare inexperienced laborers for a good-paying entry level drilling rig job.

One such school is the Maritime Drilling Schools based in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, which provides a 20-day training course. The entry-level training course provides individuals with skills and safety training needed to function safely and efficiently in the field.
Maritime Drilling's 20-day training course breaks down each part of the drilling process and explains what it does and why it is necessary. The school has a drilling rig on site where students get hands-on training in rig operations as well as safety.

As most roughneck jobs today are found on offshore drilling rigs and platforms, training schools also teach offshore skills as well as land. Roughnecks can expect to align, tighten, unscrew and add pipe, along with position casing, tubing and pump rods. Other duties include cleaning, maintaining and repairing drilling equipment.

Maritime Drilling Schools also teaches the following:

  • Rotary Drilling
  • Drilling Contracts
  • Oil and gas reservoirs
  • Moving equipment to the drill site
  • Rigging up
  • Rig components
  • Normal drilling operations
  • Formation evaluation and completing the well
  • Coring operations
  • Reverse circulation
  • Extraction and cleaning of core samples
  • Cataloguing and crating core samples for geologist
  • Working safely around track mounted drilling machines
  • HAZMAT Materials
  • OSHA Regulations
Need work? Roustabouts in Demand

When students complete the 4-week program, they typically have no trouble finding work.

"Right now, as fast as guys are being trained, they are going right to work," MacDonald said. "We have drilling contractors who come to us regularly looking for hands. As an institution, we don't guarantee work to students, but we do assist them."

Recently trained students are finding work as roustabouts all over the globe, but specifically in Alberta, British Columbia, North Dakota (Bakken), Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and offshore worldwide.

Drillers start off as roustabouts until they gain enough hands-on experience to move up to a roughneck or floorhand position, then to driller and rig supervisor. Of course, pay increases as well.

"While it certainly assists an individual to have a solid educational background coming into our program, all drillers start at the bottom. A driller is not going to walk in off the street. Drillers have to build their knowledge and experience and know how things operate and what's going on around the rig."

According to MacDonald, his students start as roustabouts with a salary between $80,000 to $100,000 in Canada, and $75,000 to $95,000 in the US, depending on where and for who they are working. Some even get a living allowance.

The pay is very generous; however the labor is physically demanding, the work schedule is taxing and the work environment is potentially dangerous to those not properly trained.

Although schedules vary from one company to another, as well as one rig to the next, a common shift is 12 hours on and 12 hours off for two or three weeks at a time and then off the rig for two weeks.

Need work? Roustabouts in Demand

This is a tough schedule for individuals with families at home, but it pays well. MacDonald noted that most of his students have been male; however, with the labor shortage, unemployment rate and advancements in drilling rig technology, he is surprised that more women aren't taking his training course.

"It is certainly a male dominated field, but the industry has changed," MacDonald said. "A lot of drilling equipment -- land and offshore -- is changing to auto robotics. We have cyber drillers, pipe racking systems, pipe handling systems and auto roughnecks, which allows opportunities for women to get into industry. Drilling is not as labor intensive as it used to be and women can make good money at it."

The Great Crew Change |


Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.

Max  |  September 18, 2014
Hello guys! I am 51 and close to losing my job. Want to move to Fort Mac and thinking to get into this school. But, what are my chances to get a roustabout job at a rig Fort Mac at my age? Thank you all.
Arbin  |  June 18, 2014
Mujahid I dont think that course alone will ever get you a job on any rig without thorough hands on and classroom training. Most employers look for experience and the closet your going to get to experience is in a course like the one Maritime Drilling Schools provides. The course you are suggesting has been offered for years by Petro Skills and does not give the one on one instructor lead training. Being in front of an instructor with 20-30 years experience teaching you the dos and donts makes a big difference, You can ask questions in person and get the hands on those courses dont have. The courses I seen on learn to drill you can get for free on OSHA websites or youtube. Theres nothing like the live training that will get you closer to that job. The testimonials on Maritime Drilling Schools Limited Website tells the tale.
Mujahid  |  May 07, 2014
All people those cannot travel abroad can take an online, animated, IADC Accredited Well Control training at This training is Smart phone and Tablet accessible and also a lot more cheaper. After successful completion of th​is​ course, you will receive a ​ Well Control certificate from the International Association of Drilling Contractors.
Doug  |  July 12, 2013
Come to Pennsylvania with that training you wont have any problems finding a job, also get a cdl A license you can pick who you want to work for, baker Hughes, superior, shell, seneca, halliburton. Theyre all right here and more, you could even get a job with just your cdl running water or sand.
joe Rodriguez  |  July 09, 2013
Oil or any water well services is where the money is at ....I just started working for a water well device smd its a GREAT experience and the money is good..17.00 an hour ....for south Texas its great....
Lionel  |  June 05, 2013
We dont have this kind of school in France, shame!
Oyekanmi Oluseye  |  June 13, 2012
What a wonderful school with great vision is MDS. I know i will definitely find my way to this school one day and start a fulfilling life out of this drilling career which im so much enthusiastic about. i just hope to sort out the cost of course Roughneck and start to actualize my dream. Regards
Heammawihio  |  May 20, 2012
This school sounds good. Very good. Anybody in the industry help me with a couple of questions? First, my age. 49, healthy and strong. Would my age be a problem as entry level roustabout ? Second. Do most Rig companies allow tobacco smoking? My ancestors honored Tobacco for thousands of years, and I dont give that up for nobody. Finally, *Anybody* with past experience with some sort of Financial Aid, either by the school or otherwise ? ($5k + airfare and food, is something I dont got right now.) Hahóo.
Paul  |  May 08, 2012
The MDS school sounds like an excellent way to get started in a drilling career. Many highly capable candidates, with clean record, credentials, and mechanical experience, simply cannot get past the recruiter screenings for a phone call or interview, (even for Roustabout positions). Hopefully, completing the MDS training school can help applicants get a chance to at least "talk" to oilfield company recruiters. The oilfield has such a shortage of quality workers.....yet, notice how many company ads state, "No Phone Calls accepted for this Position".......Really??? How badly do they need workers, when they refuse to speak to candidates interested in applying to their company?
barry herbert krakue  |  April 19, 2012
i really admire your school but its seems its very difficult for we the Africans especially those from Ghana to pursue it because we dont have any specialty school in Ghana that can assist me to realise my dream and i really feel bad about it. Please if you can give me any advise i ll be much happy.Unemployment rate iis high but i know its through your school that can be used to reduce it from the testimonies people are given.The CEO said Hard workers, regardless of background, are needed to fill these positions, especially offshore, but they need proper training Assist me to realise my dreams cos all my life i want to become a driller. thanks
pabitra kumar jena  |  April 06, 2012
i was working with Nabors drilling science before three years as a roustabout.
rick monette  |  February 07, 2012
i cant tell you how many guys ive been sharing this story with as well as the MDS school/website and the rigzone site for there own evaluation , there are ahell of a lot of good harding people here who would love to be working in oil and gas industry with its easy schedule and great money, we are making the same money here but the conditions are much harder ,longer . dangerous, sacrificing, and with no room for advancement of anykind. so im counting the days till i can get off this rock and onto something bigger and better, its just difficult to walk away from a definate paycheck now in hopes of one down the road, when you have a family at home counting on you to not let them down and when i talk to them about this industry and the mds school i get alittle kick back of uncertainty , you guys know what im talking about ,anyway thanks for the forum to discuss these issues
rick monette  |  February 07, 2012
thank you guys for your replies to my inquiry regarding the oil and gas industry and the roughneck school in canada , as well as the comments from mds as well, my first assumption was that the school was/is a great way to start and i have prviously spoke with REG about his program, and my opinion was that he is an honest straight forward man with much to give regarding this industry im alittle older than most people trying to get into this buisness so ive been had more than once in my life with things that sem to good to be true, so i always do my home work with due dilagence. im currently working in afghanistan in sub zero conditions most mournings right now 7 days a week 13 hours aday with 2 weeks off every 100 days so the rig schedule is a cake walk . but the spring offensive is coming up and things are about to get nasty here with over 185 rockets being fired on my base last year same time and i want to make sure that if i leave sooner than later a and invest the 5000 that i just didnt shoot myself in the foot so to speak . anyway thanks again,
Jessie  |  February 07, 2012
How much does the 4 week training program cost? Is there financial Aid available? And since the school is in Sidney does that mean i have to provide my own means of transportation to the school?
MDS Staff  |  February 06, 2012
Hello Rick, We just want to mention that we are not advertising our school here. The school was approached by Jaime Kammerzell to run an article on the school. Since we are here we can discuss some topics you mentioned. 1.) You can make this money in the field starting out and I am sure some other readers in the field can attest to the numbers. 2.) The cost for 20 days of training which includes hands on and classroom lectures that give you 12 certificates along with accreditation from the International Association of Drilling Contractors is not a lot. Included in the 5000.00 fee is accommodations for 20 days. If you look at the cost of other courses, trades and University which in most cases pay less and cost upwards to 100,000 dollars or more....well $4200.00 doesnt sound that bad. Our students are very successful if you follow our usual process for finding employment. We also have drilling contractors continually looking for our students. If you look at our website in the testimonial section you'll witness what I just mentioned. The industry is busy and will continue as our economy evolves and require more demand for energy. Our program provides an individual with the training and skill to assist them finding employment. Its like this...if you don't have experience you need to have something. The way I see it out there, that if you want it bad enough you will get it!!! If your looking for an opportunity its better to be prepared than not!!!
Mike Corkrum  |  February 06, 2012
Rick just read through all the emails below you and seen a few blogs from previous students...sounds like a winw win to me...I also checked out the MDS sight and read some of the testimonials from drilling contractors and students...all doesnt sound like a catch to me. On the site shows wages expected by the CAODC..checked it out and it all seems to be true...of course you are right to check it out. I am working out of the middle East trucking into Irag...and there is lots of work over here. Hoping to trade occupations and I think this might be a good school to attend...only makes sense have some training is better than none...
mark swift  |  February 06, 2012
It is true that the industry is etting easier in manual handling.I am a driller on a Cyber chair double land based rig in South Australia and we have a women on my crew. She is a leasehand(rousabout) and is an extreamly good worker and learner.She does find it tuff working with the men because unfortuntaly the men have not crasped the fact that women are moving into this industry,so I do believe that before companies employ women they should screen the women to see how flexible they are in an all man enviroment because in all fairness to the guys we havnt worked with women before and very hard to change our approach to the job we do now in the way we communicate with each other around the rigs,and you rig pigs would know what I mean But in saying that as a driller and leader I have constantly had talks with my crew including the leasehand on how things can operate smoother when we are all working together on the floor.Im all for women being part of the drilling industry
rick monette  |  February 04, 2012
the money sounds to good to be true, and we all know about that catch phrase for that situation!! but lets say im wrong?? how does someone verify that these numbers are infact real as well as the demand for help, this one school charges 5000.00 for the 20 day course, thats alot of money for a 20 day course, how much can you real gain from a 20 day course that will actually land you a job?? id love some unbiased commets about this add, other than the school advertizing it?????
Brent Bowsman  |  February 04, 2012
Great!!! this sounds like a great opportunity for me coming out of the military service in Iraq. Use to long hours and always wanting to work the drilling industry. Well i am going to sign up too!!! Punched this school on google and its at the top of its rating...must be an excellent school. Noticed its Government and Industry accredited which is whats important as too many scams out there. Hey may see some of you people in class or on the rig.....
David McGinnis  |  February 03, 2012
Where do I sign up???? Seriously!!!! My contract is expiring soon and I need a career change. This is the opportunity I am looking for. The long, hard hours are no problem as I currently work 13 hours a day in my current position. The climate is no problem either as I can work in any climate. Someone please provide me the information on this so I can get started. Thanks in advance.
Jen Lee Baker  |  February 03, 2012
Wow its good to see women are finally getting a chance in this industry. This school seems to have high ratings on the internet. Good luck everyone with your training and getting employment.
Adaba  |  February 03, 2012
I want to know if there is other oilfield training that is carried out in this school, like solids control, drilling waste management and electrical training. or it is just drillers and roustabout training.
Elmore Moncrieft Jr  |  February 03, 2012
I have completed the course up there, just last September, and Im looking to get on some where...
Barry  |  February 03, 2012
It all sounds very nice but I put my 21 year old son through, Green hand, rigging & lifting, confined space entry, working at height courses, Boiset, North Sea medical at my own expense & every company he applied to say he has to have offshore experience. How is he supposed to get this if no one will give him a start off shore? He even spent almost a year on pipe laying vessels as a rigger and the still they said it didnt count. He is now training to be a domestic plumber. Good luck to him
Gregg Hochderffer  |  February 03, 2012
Outstanding! If I was a young person coming out of high school and wanted to get my life going financially, this would be the best way to do it. Hard work with GREAT pay! Wow.
Bryan Kirk  |  February 03, 2012
I have always been interested in this type of work. I work as a freelance writer and it sure doesnt pay the bills
 |  February 03, 2012
Donald Morgan  |  February 02, 2012
i hear a lot of good things about this school and that some of the students coming out of there know more than some of the drillers in the field...a friend of mine was telling me that drilling contractors send their people friend said some of trinidad drillings top drillers came from that school....nabors need to send some of their people for there for training...i need to work in Canada if they are making that kind of money...they need to increase the pay here in texas...i wonder if this school trains cyber drillers...anyway good to see a school out there who trains people for this occupation...Kudos!
devon thornton  |  February 01, 2012
nice job wonderful people
Shaun  |  February 01, 2012
The drilling industry is booming everywhere and it doesnt look like its going to slow down according to what I have been reading and hearing. When I went to Maritime Drilling Schools it cost me about US $3500.00 and about $600.00 for accommodations which gave us a nice room with lots of living space equiped with all you need from towels, bedding, utencils, big screen TV etc. We received 12 wallet laminated certificates all geared towards the drilling industry. Once I finished the program I had 4 offers from employers within 2 days after I landed in Alberta. The recruiters were pretty impressed with the certs and knowledge I had gained from that school. If you are looking for a job in the drilling industry this is the school to focus on and is recognized everywhere I went and also run into lots of people in the path who also went to that school. I must say this course puts you years ahead of anyone else starting out in this field. With in a year I was on my way drilling and right now a person can start off making over $3000.00 a week in Alberta plus you get a living allowance of $150.00 a day. I lived on my living allowance and saved most of my pays. Hope this helps and be wise on taking this course as it'll be money well spent!!! I think the website is goodluck as I think youll find employers lined up for Maritime Drilling Schools Students!!!!
Alan  |  February 01, 2012
Just to comment that over 50% of Rig time is now spent running Completions especially on offshore deepwater developments. Due to this service specialist make up a large part of the workforce, these guys are specialists in specific parts of running / installing / commissioning new Wells. This side of the industry also requires special individuals who have to work beyond normal rotations (some companies worse than others) & often looks unattractive to new employees.
Kurt, Baker Hughes Field Specialist  |  February 01, 2012
Looking for an "Oilfield job"? RIGZONE Career Center is a great place to start! There you are able to search for jobs by type, location, or keyword and pull up a multitude of opportunities. GOOD LUCK with the Job hunt. I had a job when I found this one!
Atanda  |  February 01, 2012
I really like this add, but its pretty funny that as loud as it is,we dont have such schools here in NIgeria my home country. Lots of engineers here are looking for the opportunity of this sort of training but would have to travel out of Africa to get it. Am a graduate of Electronics n Electrical Engineering and theres hardly any text about oil exploration( drilling,completions and evaluation) I haven"t read but am glad this is available.My question is this,is there anyone close to Nigeria and whether that be yes or not,what will it cost to get this training?
Mike Modica  |  February 01, 2012
Where can I get a hgold of these employers? Thanks. Mike
joyce mushi  |  February 01, 2012
its good work since it increase national income.
Eugene Victoriano  |  February 01, 2012
Would you please send more Information about This training Facility. Where, Price ECT......Do you have extension Training or office in Philippines because I was living there. Thank You.
salvatore giammanco  |  January 31, 2012
I would love to be part of it!
Jaime Kammerzell  |  January 31, 2012
Steve, you can find the information here:
Steven Wright  |  January 31, 2012
Would you please send more Information about This training Facility. Where, Price ECT...... Thank You.
wayne morris  |  January 31, 2012
where are these jobs? I have 10 years as a toolpusher,and 30 years in safety and I can't even get a offer for a roustabout job. Oh,and I don't smoke, drink, or use drugs. So tell me where all these jobs are!
Max Callohan  |  January 31, 2012
Brian you're right about ongoing training even when a student finishes a training program he needs to become rig specific even the experience ones need that kind of training. The thing about training prior it gives an individual the upper hand over someone off the street. The old school way is learn as you go and we see the results of that in the IADC and CAODC accident reports. Most people getting hurt or having serious or fatal injuries are from people going on these rigs with out any training. I think its time to start entering the workforce with proper training meaning industry and safety and learn the rig specific knowledge when you get there. There is too many people diving into these jobs and getting hurt. My opinion is to get trained with as much as you can before you enter this field.
Steve Krase  |  January 31, 2012
"As most roughneck jobs today are found on offshore drilling rigs and platforms,..." Really?
Shaun Arsenault  |  January 31, 2012
I just want to say that my experience with this school was excellent. I did this course in 2005 and went to work immediately afterwards because of the tickets I had from this school. This was the best move for me and my family as it has benefited me in many ways. I worked my way up the ladder on landrigs and now working as Rig Manager for Transocean in the Persian Gulf. Well that being said, I would never have gotten this far if I didn't have the knowledge and expertise given to me by Reggie MacDonald and his brother Colin. Throughout my career I have never run into instructors like those guys and they were the best trainers I ever had and I been to a lot of schools over the past several years. I am ...also saddened to hear about Colin as he was an excellent teacher and very funny at times. People the course they deliver is well worth the investment and if you're serious you can do very well in this field. I know a lot of students who went to this school some stayed with it and some didn't. The ones that did are doing very well but you got to go out to Alberta when you finish the course. If you laze around waiting for the employer to call you well it'll most likely never happen and like Reg said in one of his blogs be physically ready and drug free. Most of the rigs I have worked with over the years are Cyber Rigs and makes drilling a breeze in comparison to the older conventional rigs. We had 4 years of being accident free and a lot of this was due to the advanced equipment and safety programs on the rig. On my rig we have on the job training for employees looking to further their training in this field. When I was in Aberdeen last year I ran into the Zone manager for Rowan & Companies and he was the chairman of IADC and gave us our rig award. He talked very highly of Reggie and said he had worked with him in the earlier years. Anyway people review your options as I don't know anything about this company that Brad guy was talking about but I do know you can't go wrong with taking training at MDS. Keep up the great work Reggie as you're making the industry personnel more knowledgeable and safer for us all!!!! Cheers all
Brian Partridge  |  January 31, 2012
even when one goes this school they are still inexperienced. when they do find a job, they are starting allover again, they have to learn how there driller wants things done. All land rigs are not the same, all offshore rigs are not the same. chances are you will have to go through school again once you are hired on. It all depends on company needs when they are hiring, usually inexperienced hands are the last app to be looked at during a hiring spree. It comes down to right place at the right time.