The typical level of education required for entry into oil and gas occupations is less than a high school diploma. However, some employers prefer to hire graduates of high school vocational programs in which students learn such skills as basic mechanics, welding, and heavy equipment operations.
There are few formal education requirements for oil and gas rotary drill operators. However, they need a lot of job training and experience before they can do most tasks or advance to more skilled positions.
Most workers start as helpers to experienced workers and learn skills on the job. However, formal training is becoming more important as more technologically advanced machinery and methods are increasingly used.
As workers gain more experience, they can move up to higher paying jobs that require greater skill. For example, a roustabout may become a rotary helper and advance to derrick operator and then driller. A similar progression is available to service workers as well.
Because of the extreme environment and critical nature of the work, offshore oil crews generally are more experienced than land crews. For work on an offshore rig, many companies hire only workers who are already experienced in oilfield operations. As a result, workers who have gained experience as part of a land crew might advance to offshore operations. Positions are usually filled on the basis of seniority and ability.