Do the benefits of working on an oil rig outweigh the risks? That depends on the person. Those who enjoy a physically challenging job, travel, adventure, team work and a large paycheck would likely enjoy working on an oil rig.
However, those who do not wish to be away from home for long periods of time, don't want to endure extreme working conditions or live in the middle of the ocean would be miserable.
The benefits of working in the oil industry are appealing. Jobs are plentiful since the demand for energy is increasing. One does not need a degree to begin, and there is plenty of room for advancement. Oil companies prefer to promote from within to save money on training costs. The pay for an entry level worker can be over $1,000 a week, with skilled and professional workers making two or three times as much. Food, board and travel expenses are paid for by the company. Many companies offer excellent benefits, including medical, dental and life insurance, 401(k) programs and profit sharing. Living conditions are reputed to be excellent, even comparing to 4- and 5-star hotels. Opportunities for rest and leisure are provided, and may include satellite TV and phones, updated selections of DVDs, video games, an Internet connection, gyms, saunas and more.
Oil rig employees work long, often 12-hour days but in rotating shifts. For example, in two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off increments or fourteen days on and twenty one days off, meaning employees work only half the year or less. Workers are needed in countries all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Russia, Norway, Venezuela, China and Scotland. Employees eat, sleep and work with a diversity of people.
A variety of skilled laborers are needed, including welders, scaffolders, medics, radio operators, painters, electricians, maintenance supervisors, crane operators, caterers and mechanics. There are even different kinds of rigs to work on, such as semi-submersible, platform, jack up, drill ships, flotels, and floating production and storage units.
Oil companies do their best to insure safety and provide safety boots, glasses, hard hats and coveralls. A medical staff is on board at all times. Bonuses and higher pay may be available for working in the harshest conditions.
Disasters are infrequent on oil rigs, but when they do occur they can be devastating. In the event of a disaster, the Coast Guard will respond but may take time to reach the rig. Survivors must wait in life boats or rafts for rescue. There's no denying the risk of death and serious injury while working on an oil rig. Employees are constantly working around heavy machinery and combustible materials, and gas leaks are common. Conditions can be harsh, ranging from sweltering heat to below freezing. The work is stressful and physically demanding. The sea is unpredictable, and workers may even have to weather hurricanes on the rig. Fatigue can be a problem, and the machinery is complex, it's easy to make a fatal mistake. Workers must be alert and work as a team at all times. Rules are strict; employees must follow orders to ensure safety. The oil rig is isolated, and workers may feel lonely and worry about the emotional stress put on their families. It is an environment not unlike the military.
Working on an oil rig can be an exciting and financially rewarding experience. However, it's a high-risk setting that requires strength and fortitude. If you have some years of experience working on oil refineries, we'd be glad to use your knowledge and educate people about your industry.