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Career profile Drill Operator

Also known as Daylight Driller, Drill Operator, Driller, Drilling Rig Operator, Motor Man, Oil Rig Driller, Oil Well Driller, Relief Driller, Tool Pusher

Drill Operator

Also known as Daylight Driller, Drill Operator, Driller

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$33,600 - $90,640 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Administration and Management
Core tasks
  • Train crews, and introduce procedures to make drill work more safe and effective.
  • Observe pressure gauge and move throttles and levers to control the speed of rotary tables, and to regulate pressure of tools at bottoms of boreholes.
  • Count sections of drill rod to determine depths of boreholes.
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What does a Drill Operator do?

Drill Operators set up or operate a variety of drills to remove underground oil and gas, or remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.

What kind of tasks does a Drill Operator perform regularly?

Drill Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Train crews, and introduce procedures to make drill work more safe and effective.
  • Observe pressure gauge and move throttles and levers to control the speed of rotary tables, and to regulate pressure of tools at bottoms of boreholes.
  • Count sections of drill rod to determine depths of boreholes.
  • Connect sections of drill pipe, using hand tools and powered wrenches and tongs.
  • Push levers and brake pedals to control gasoline, diesel, electric, or steam draw works that lower and raise drill pipes and casings in and out of wells.
  • Maintain records of footage drilled, location and nature of strata penetrated, materials and tools used, services rendered, and time required.
  • Maintain and adjust machinery to ensure proper performance.
  • Start and examine operation of slush pumps to ensure circulation and consistency of drilling fluid or mud in well.
  • Locate and recover lost or broken bits, casings, and drill pipes from wells, using special tools.
  • Direct rig crews in drilling and other activities, such as setting up rigs and completing or servicing wells.
  • Weigh clay, and mix with water and chemicals to make drilling mud.
  • Monitor progress of drilling operations, and select and change drill bits according to the nature of strata, using hand tools.
  • Repair or replace defective parts of machinery, such as rotary drill rigs, water trucks, air compressors, and pumps, using hand tools.
  • Clean and oil pulleys, blocks, and cables.
  • Bolt together pump and engine parts, and connect tanks and flow lines.
  • Remove core samples during drilling to determine the nature of the strata being drilled.

The above responsibilities are specific to Drill Operators. More generally, Drill Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

What is a Drill Operator salary?

The median salary for a Drill Operator is $53,820, and the average salary is $58,940. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Drill Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Drill Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Drill Operators earn less than $33,600 per year, 25% earn less than $42,790, 75% earn less than $71,780, and 90% earn less than $90,640.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Drill Operators is expected to change by 26.3%, and there should be roughly 2,400 open positions for Drill Operators every year.

Median annual salary
$53,820
Typical salary range
$33,600 - $90,640
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
26.3%

What personality traits are common among Drill Operators?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Drill Operator are usually higher in their Realistic and Enterprising interests.

Drill Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Drill Operators typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Drill Operator tend to value Support, Relationships, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Drill Operators very strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Drill Operators moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Drill Operators moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Drill Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, attention to detail, and leadership.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Drill Operators, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Leadership
Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Drill Operators need?

Working as a Drill Operator usually requires a high school diploma.

Drill Operators need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Drill Operators

  • 17.6% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 47.3% completed high school or secondary school
  • 25.3% completed some college coursework
  • 3.7% earned a Associate's degree
  • 5.7% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.4% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.1% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Drill Operators

Drill Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, mathematics, or administration and management knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Drill Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Personnel and Human Resources
Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.

Important Abilities needed by Drill Operators

Drill Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Drill Operators need abilities such as problem sensitivity, control precision, and near vision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Drill Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
Manual Dexterity
The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.

Critical Skills needed by Drill Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Drill Operators frequently use skills like critical thinking, operations monitoring, and operation and control to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Drill Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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