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Career profile Earth Drill Operator

Also known as Blast Hole Driller, Diamond Driller, Drill Operator, Driller, Hard Rock Drill Operator, Highwall Drill Operator, Rock Drill Operator, Underground Drill Operator, Water Well Driller, Well Driller

Earth Drill Operator

Also known as Blast Hole Driller, Diamond Driller, Drill Operator

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$33,440 - $73,650 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Administration and Management
  • Transportation
Core tasks
  • Monitor drilling operations, by checking gauges and listening to equipment to assess drilling conditions and to determine the need to adjust drilling or alter equipment.
  • Fabricate well casings.
  • Operate controls to stabilize machines and to position and align drills.
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What does an Earth Drill Operator do?

Earth Drill Operators operate a variety of drills such as rotary, churn, and pneumatic to tap subsurface water and salt deposits, to remove core samples during mineral exploration or soil testing, and to facilitate the use of explosives in mining or construction.

In addition, Earth Drill Operators includes horizontal and earth boring machine operators.

What kind of tasks does an Earth Drill Operator perform regularly?

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

  • Operate controls to stabilize machines and to position and align drills.
  • Regulate air pressure, rotary speed, and downward pressure, according to the type of rock or concrete being drilled.
  • Start, stop, and control drilling speed of machines and insertion of casings into holes.
  • Drive or guide truck-mounted equipment into position, level and stabilize rigs, and extend telescoping derricks.
  • Select and attach drill bits and drill rods, adding more rods as hole depths increase, and changing drill bits as needed.
  • Operate machines to flush earth cuttings or to blow dust from holes.
  • Perform routine maintenance and upgrade work on machines and equipment, such as replacing parts, building up drill bits, and lubricating machinery.
  • Verify depths and alignments of boring positions.
  • Document geological formations encountered during work.
  • Select the appropriate drill for the job, using knowledge of rock or soil conditions.
  • Record drilling progress and geological data.
  • Assemble and position machines, augers, casing pipes, and other equipment, using hand and power tools.
  • Drive trucks, tractors, or truck-mounted drills to and from work sites.
  • Retrieve lost equipment from bore holes, using retrieval tools and equipment.

The above responsibilities are specific to Earth Drill Operators. More generally, Earth 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).
Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

What is an Earth Drill Operator salary?

The median salary for an Earth Drill Operator is $48,510, and the average salary is $51,040. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Earth Drill Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Earth Drill Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Earth Drill Operators earn less than $33,440 per year, 25% earn less than $39,690, 75% earn less than $60,190, and 90% earn less than $73,650.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Earth Drill Operators is expected to change by 8.2%, and there should be roughly 3,000 open positions for Earth Drill Operators every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$33,440 - $73,650
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Earth Drill Operators?


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 an Earth Drill Operator are usually higher in their Realistic, Investigative, and Conventional interests.

Earth 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, Earth Drill Operators typically have strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Lastly, Earth Drill Operators typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


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 an Earth Drill Operator tend to value Support, Independence, and Working Conditions.

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

Second, Earth Drill Operators moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Earth 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 Earth Drill Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, attention to detail, and adaptability/flexibility.

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

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.
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

What education and training do Earth Drill Operators need?

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

Earth 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 Earth Drill Operators

  • 17.0% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 49.8% completed high school or secondary school
  • 20.6% completed some college coursework
  • 5.6% earned a Associate's degree
  • 5.9% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Earth Drill Operators

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

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

Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
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.
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

Important Abilities needed by Earth Drill Operators

Earth 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, Earth Drill Operators need abilities such as control precision, arm-hand steadiness, and multilimb coordination in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Earth Drill Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
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.
Multilimb Coordination
The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Reaction Time
The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
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 Earth 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.

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

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.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Equipment Maintenance
Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

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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