What Does A Roustabout Do? A Comprehensive Guide To Duties

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 19 November 2022

Published 14 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Oil and gas industries employ roustabouts who perform various duties on offshore oil and gas rigs. Their primary duties are assisting senior crew members by performing peripheral tasks, maintaining the equipment in oil rigs and ensuring that every drilling operation happens efficiently. If you are interested in working as a roustabout, it is beneficial to know the qualifications and additional requirements for becoming one. In this article, we examine what does a roustabout do and explore the qualifications to become one and how much they make on an average.

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What Does A Roustabout Do?

Understanding the answer to the question, ‘What does a roustabout do?' is essential for deciding whether this role is a good fit for you. The main operations in an oil and gas rig include exploration, drilling, production, work over and transportation of drilling equipment and material. Each of these operations makes use of a complex system of heavy machinery, equipment and tools. A roustabout's job is an entry-level role for professionals in the oil and gas industry. They provide round-the-clock service to perform these tasks and assist the crew members who supervise tasks.

In most cases, the jobs that roustabouts engage in do not require training and there is no limitation to what they may do on a rig. Setting up oil wellheads, maintaining the rig, maintaining pipes, tubes and pieces of equipment, scraping and painting rig equipment, digging trenches and transporting material to and from locations are some of their general duties. Experienced roustabouts also work in roles with more responsibility, like signalling and fire watch, which may require additional training. The primary duties and responsibilities of a roustabout include:


A roustabout spends a significant amount of time in maintaining the rig's appearance and ensuring a safe working environment for the crew. They clean spills and keep walkways clear. They ensure that nothing blocks the exits or any access to fire fighting equipment. They stow all lifting equipment in their designated locations after use. They also dispose of garbage in the right containers, as per established protocols. They periodically clean the rig with water and make sure that residual fluids drain well. Once they complete cleaning, they also dry cleaning equipment before storage.

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Mixing chemicals

Drillers use many chemicals and fluids in the drilling process. Mixing them is another important duty of a roustabout. They contact drilling assistants and understand their requirements for the day. The chemicals they handle could be hazardous and they can mix them only in an area known as the 'sack store'. Roustabouts mix the chemicals using a forklift and pack them in sacks keeping in mind temperature, timing and pressure limits. Companies typically allow only trained roustabouts to do this job. Once they complete the job, they fold the sacks, clean the sack area and return equipment components to their storage locations.

Maintaining tools and equipment

Conducting inspections of the equipment before and after use, checking for damage due to wear and tear and checking for corrosion are part of a roustabout's daily duties. They look for loose bolts, clean and repair wherever they can and report to their supervisors if and when equipment requires replacement. A roustabout also moves supplies and equipment to the work location.

They also take responsibility for cleaning the equipment and placing them back in their original storage units. They also use heavy weightlifting equipment like forklifts and truck winches to transport and stack equipment as per guidelines and protocols. They receive training in assembling, dismantling and repairing equipment like:

  • High-pressure wash down systems

  • Subs

  • Boilers

  • Engines parts

  • Tubulars

  • Slings

  • Lifting caps and gears

  • Pipe elevators

  • Ropes and wires

  • Bore tubes

  • Hooks

  • Rotary slips

  • Collar slips

Keeping fire watch

Fire watch is a very sensitive duty and roustabouts go through rigorous training for it, along with other personnel. They follow very strict protocols in the event of a fire and not only send out alerts but also take action to put out the fire quickly and contain its spread. If they pass the fire watch test, managers assign roustabouts to fire watch.

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Assisting in drilling operations

Drillers supervise the crew that executes the well-drilling process and monitor gas levels and pressure build-up to ensure the operations are safe. Other personnel in a drilling process are roughnecks, floor hands, lead tong operators, motormen, derrickmen and assistant drillers. Roustabouts assist each of these crew members in regular drilling operations.

Working at heights

As a roustabout gains experience, managers are likely to assign more complex or hazardous jobs to them. They may get the opportunity to work in tall rig systems. They check the safety equipment for themselves and other personnel, and follow safety protocols to ensure a safe working environment.

Working the catwalk

A catwalk is a three feet high steel platform lying perpendicular to the rig floor. It is a busy and hazardous place of work. A roustabout follows all procedures and safety protocols when laying tubes or loading material on a catwalk. They maintain communication with employees and do not do anything independently without notifying others. Roustabouts are responsible for stopping a job on the catwalk in case of a disaster and warning others working there.

Signalling and banking the crane

Banksmen are professionals who help in directing a crane from the point where the crane operator attaches or detaches a load. If a crane operator cannot see what they are picking or where they require to detach a load, a roustabout guides them using hand signals and the use of radios. Both the crane operator and the roustabout go through rigorous training and plan in advance to become familiar with hand signals and radio operations. A roustabout who serves as a banksman stays close to the crane, follows the path of the load in minute detail and ensures that the operator acknowledges the signals before attaching or detaching a load, to prevent mishaps.

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What Are The Requirements To Become A Roustabout?

Clearing 10 or 10+2 is the basic educational requirement to become a roustabout. Some companies may specify an Industrial Training Institute (ITI) diploma as a mandatory requirement. Having a passport and a recent medical certificate are prerequisites for this job. There is a growing need for roustabouts, both domestically and internationally. Some companies may prefer candidates with a certification from Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping (STCW) for Seafarers, which trains students in basic safety and security maritime protocols.

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What Are Some Popular Certification Courses For A Roustabout?

Many institutes and oil rig companies offer short-term certification courses for roustabouts and other related jobs. The duration of these courses may be between two days to a month. The courses teach them the basics of drilling and exploration, machine operation, cleaning, paint scraping and repainting, loading and unloading and maintenance of mud pumps, pipes and cranes. If you want to become a roustabout, consider pursuing the following certification courses:

  • Basic STCW safety training

  • Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET)

  • Fire fighting

  • Crane operation

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What Are The Additional Requirements For A Roustabout?

A roustabout's job involves demanding and extensive physical labour. They normally work 12-hour shifts for 14 days, after which they get a 14-day break. An oil rig may have about 200 employees and a roustabout may share living space with three or four others, depending on the size of the rig. If you are interested in working as a roustabout, you may benefit from:

  • Focusing on the quality of work: Working hard, being perfect in what you do, volunteering for work and taking up jobs that others may likely refuse are some ways to gain the respect of crew members and supervisors.

  • Following instructions: Supervisors and other administrative professionals instruct and delegate duties to roustabouts. The ability to work following instructions without questioning or complaining is an asset for a roustabout.

  • Emphasising safety: Working in a rig is dangerous and presents more risks than most jobs. Your ability to be cautious and aware of your surroundings, and stick to safety guidelines and protocols, can protect you and your colleagues from any potential trouble.

  • Working on as many processes as possible: A roustabout assists in most drilling-related operations and processes. When you learn about each process, you are likely to get more opportunities, making you versatile and a sought-after professional.

  • Continuing to learn: Online certification programmes can help you expand your skills. It can help you become a crane operator and improve your earning potential.

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How Much Does A Roustabout Make?

The average base salary of a roustabout is ₹60,071 per month. Companies typically provide boarding and meals. Roustabout salaries are one of the highest for manual labour, because the role requires expertise and experience. Oil and gas companies that hire trained and experienced roustabouts may offer higher salaries and additional benefits. Working in this role in an economically developed country can increase pay significantly.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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