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At a Glance

  • Work at oil fields
  • Perform a variety of construction and maintenance tasks
  • Have a medium level of social interaction
  • Work outdoors
  • May travel to remote work sites
  • Train on the job

Career summary

Roustabouts do general maintenance and construction work in oil fields.

#No alternate titles

Roustabouts cut down trees and brush to make clearings at drill sites and to create road and reduce fire hazards.

Roustabouts dig trenches for foundations. They use backhoes for most digging, but may use shovels to dig small holes. They erect forms into these foundations, mix concrete, and pour it into forms.

Roustabouts construct the framework for derricks. Derricks are machines that help workers move heavy equipment. They unload the framework and other materials from boats or trucks by hand or with motorized lifts.

Roustabouts connect piping to create pipelines between holding tanks and loading areas. They walk along pipelines to locate leaks. They clean up spilled oil by bailing it into containers.

Roustabouts help maintain boilers, steam engines, and other equipment. They do basic maintenance such as cleaning and oiling parts. They may repair or replace broken parts. They may take boilers or engines apart to fix them.

Related careers

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to roustabouts.

Common work activities

Roustabouts perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, roustabouts:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Roustabouts frequently:

It is important for roustabouts to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for roustabouts to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Roustabouts need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study to consider


To work as a roustabout, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Roustabout jobs tend to be entry-level jobs that require little or no previous work experience. However, many employers prefer that you have a high school diploma or equivalent.

On-the-job training

Most roustabouts learn their skills informally on the job from an experienced worker. You begin as a helper and clear away brush and clean up. As you gain experience, you learn to build the framework for derricks. Training can last up to one year. The length of time varies by employer.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers usually require roustabouts to have a high school diploma or equivalent. They look for applicants who are physically fit and can pass a physical exam. Some companies give aptitude tests or screen applicants for drug use. Most employers prefer applicants who have previous work experience in construction. Most employers also require applicants to have a driver's license.

Unlike many other industries, the gas and oil extraction industry hires very few people under the age of 25. More than 80 percent of the workers in this field are between the ages of 25 and 54.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Roustabouts, oil and gas (SOC 47-5071)

Pay Period
Washington Wages for this occupation are not available.
United States Hourly $13.03 $15.15 $18.07 $22.69 $28.31
Monthly $2,258 $2,625 $3,132 $3,932 $4,906
Yearly $27,110 $31,500 $37,580 $47,200 $58,880

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The roustabout's skill and level of responsibility also affect wages. In general, roustabouts who belong to a union earn higher wages.

Roustabouts who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Roustabouts, Oil and Gas (SOC 47-5071)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
United States 58,300 14.9% 5.2% 9,100

National employment

Work for roustabouts is limited to the states that have oil. Most jobs are found in Texas, California, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Wyoming, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for roustabouts is expected to grow much faster than average. The demand for gas and oil in the US is expected to remain strong. As the US continues to look for ways to decrease dependence on foreign oil, drilling for shale gas has increased. This has produced many jobs.

There is fairly high turnover for roustabouts. Most job openings will result from the need to replace those who leave the occupation.

Other resources


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Holland occupational clusters