Do you dream of working on an oil rig? Are you in love with the idea of advancing your career in the oil and gas industry?

Working in the oilfields is anything but stagnant! Not only are the jobs exciting but the prospect of building a career and increasing your earning position is virtually irresistible.

If you’re looking to get your foot in the door, you want to start with entry-level positions that do not require any experience or formal education. There are plenty of these available including Roustabouts, Leasehands and Floorhands.

These are just the initial steps when it comes to a career on the oil rigs. The next position you can obtain is that of the Derrickhand.


What Do Derrickhands Do?

A Derrickhand sits on the derrick on a drilling rig and guides the stands of the drill pipe into the fingers at the top of the derrick. They may also monitor levels, add chemicals and take care of shale shakers and mud pumps.

On an oil rig, the derrick is a lifting device, either a crane or framework, situated over an oil well that allows drilling machinery to be raised and lowered.

Derrickhands work with mud engineers to monitor pH and calcium levels as well as the weight and density of the mud. They also add chemicals to the mud or oil and monitor mud levels in the pits to help with well control.

When it comes to shale shakers and mud pumps, Derrickhands also make sure they are running well and fix them as needed.

How to Become a Derrickhand

Although you do not need any qualifications or education (apart from a high school diploma) to become a Derrickhand, you do need physical strength and stamina to do this job. 

You must also be comfortable working at heights over three meters. This job requires that you wear a safety harness and climb, bend, lift and push heavy objects and equipment.

In order to land a job as a Derrickhand, you do need some experience such as being a Leasehand or Floorhand. Alternatively, you can take service rig training courses to become a Derrickhand, although most programs have a Floorhand training prerequisite.

Some companies may also require that you have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License).

How Much Do Derrick Hands Earn?

Because you need prior training or experience to become a Derrickhand, you can expect to earn more than other entry-level positions such as Roustabouts and Floorhands.

According to Glassdoor, Derrickhands in Canada make around $79,000 per year. As reported on, Derrickhands in the United States earn approximately $67,000 per year.

In Canada, the highest paying areas for Derrickhands include Nisku (AB), Kinderseley (SK), Brooks (AB), and Grande Prairie (AB). In the United States, the highest paying cities include Dickinson (ND), Midland (TX), Oklahoma City (OK), and Odessa (TX).

When you work as a Derrickhand, you can expect to receive the following benefits:

  • Health Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Life and Disability Insurance
  • Paid Time Off
  • 401(K)
  • Tuition Reimbursement

The Career Path of a Derrickhand

Job prospects for Derrickhands are looking good, considering that the career is expected to grow by 7% and 2800 jobs across the U.S. by 2028!

And that’s not taking into consideration the current Derrickhands who will either retire or move up to more lucrative careers.

This is the best part about becoming a Derrickhand - there are many advancement opportunities as you gain skills and experience.

Oil rigs have a hierarchy when it comes to entry-level positions. Most workers will start as Leasehands and work their way up to Floorhand. After being a Floorhand, you can move into a Motorhand position.

On a drilling rig, the next position is Derrickhand. 

While the oil and gas industry offers many exciting careers and lateral moves, if you want to step up from Derrickhand, you’ll be looking at becoming a Driller.

Drillers, also known as Rig Operators, have the training and experience necessary to assume responsibility for the crew when it comes to maintenance and safety. Drillers report only to the Rig Manager.

The Rig Manager is the senior-most supervisor of the oil rig and not an easy position to land. This role requires years of experience and dedication - but it is a salaried position with a high earning potential.

Depending on where you want to take your career in the oil and gas industry, becoming a Derrickhand gives you the opportunity to develop valuable skills and gain the experience to advance in your career path!

Ready to Learn More?

If you want to learn more about working on an oil rig, we invite you to stop by our Job Seekers page to get an idea of the careers and positions that are out there waiting for you!

Otherwise, here are current job listings for Derrickhands:

Derrickhand Job Opportunities in the United States

Derrickhand Job Opportunities in Canada