A Guide to Working as Floor Hand

by Usama Chaudry on May 16, 2022

A floor hand, also known as roughneck or roustabout, is a part of an oil rig crew and is required to do whatever is asked for by other members of the crew to keep the rig running. This includes a variety of manual labor tasks like cleaning, disconnecting pipes, collecting samples, and maintaining rig equipment.

What Are the Duties of a Floor Hand?

Floor hand duties consist of a number of preparatory and physical tasks on oil rigs, including:

  1. servicing and cleaning the workover drilling rigs including pressure washing the drill floor
  2. replacing oil and air filters on pumps
  3. moving equipment from one location to the next
  4. tightening, loosening, and monitoring sections of pipe using hydraulic clamps during the oil drilling operation
  5. keeping daily logs of mud weight and viscosity levels for the driller
  6. driving a truck to transport oil drilling and service rig equipment and materials
  7. removing or installing wellhead and associated equipment
  8. reporting safety hazards, accidents, or maintenance issues to the rig operator or supervisor
  9. servicing wells in the oil and gas industry
  10. handling, sorting, and organizing tools, pipes, and other materials
  11. rigging up and rigging down anytime the rig has completed and serviced the well
  12. performing regular maintenance of the pipe and drill stem or drill bit
  13. inspecting and conducting safety checks on a regular basis
  14. repairing machinery
  15. digging ditches
  16. mixing chemicals
  17. connecting and disconnecting drill pipe
  18. removing debris and waste from the work site
  19. following company policies and procedures

What Kind of Skills Do Floor Hands Require?

Floor hands should have the following skillsets to perform their required job in an oil and gas industry:

Mechanical proficiency: As floor hands play with a variety of tools and equipment, they should be able to learn new mechanical techniques, understand technical manuals and be comfortable with various machinery.

Systems Evaluation: Floor hands should be able to identify measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.

Physical strength: Floor hands have to walk and stand for long hours at the work. So, they should be physically fit in order to lift heavy materials and tools up to 150lbs for transportation, climb ladders and crawl and maneuver into tight spaces.

Stamina: Floor hands must possess great stamina to perform highly physical tasks for long periods of time. They must be able to work in extreme atmospheric conditions, like heat, cold, and rain.

Problem Solving: They should be able to identify complex problems and review related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Attention to detail: As floor hands work with complex and dangerous machinery, they should be very attentive to the details and always keep an eye on safety methods.

Teamwork: Floor hands work as part of a crew and must be able to work well with others to accomplish a task. They should be able to take direction, anticipate needs and follow orders closely.

Communication skills: They should have excellent communication skills so that they could convey information to other employees in an effective manner to ensure optimal operation during drilling.

Willingness to learn: Floor hand roles are typically entry-level positions that require a great deal of learning on the job site. You should be open-minded and flexible as conditions can change rapidly.

Floor Hands Salary

Let’s take a look at how much floor hands earn on average.

The average floor hand salary is $54,230 per year in Canada. That works out to be approximately $27.81 per hour.

However:

Most experienced floor hands on a drilling rig can make up to $84,492 per year!

Interesting, right?

Benefits of Working as a Floor Hand

While the work can be demanding, working as a floor hand can provide the following benefits:

  • Development of physical strength by performing highly physical tasks, like lifting and moving heavy machinery.
  • Formation of a unique bond between team members by working as a part of a crew in harsh conditions.
  • Experiencing different environments and cultures by moving to a different state or region of the country.
  • Working outside of a typical office environment or regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours shift.

Steps Required to Become a Floor Hand

Here are the steps required to become a floor hand:

Earn a high school diploma or GED

Most floor hand positions do not require any formal education. However, possessing a high school diploma or GED in courses like mechanics, welding and heavy machinery operation could come across as useful.

Consider acquiring a degree

Some candidates may choose to pursue an associate of applied science in oil and gas production technology or a similar degree from a community college or vocational school for a good career in oil and gas production.

A valid driver’s license

Floor hands must need a valid driver’s license to operate vehicles for the purpose of transportation of equipment and materials to and from the oil rig.

Be certified

Enroll in courses and become a certified floor hand. Not only will obtaining the certifications give you a leg up for job hunting, it will also increase your overall value for other jobs at oil rig as well.

Create a striking resume

Make a resume that lists all your relevant information including education, training, experience, and certifications. Make sure to revise your resume for possible grammatical and spelling errors.

Relocate to a state with oil fields

Working on an oil rig as a floor hand may require you to move to a location with oil rigs, like Alberta or Nova Scotia.

Consider an apprenticeship program

You may consider working as an apprentice to have on-the-job training.

Gain experience

Most floor hands begin working on a land-based rig for several years to gain experience in the field. The more experience you have, the more chances you will have to become a floor hand.

Apply to jobs

Search for available floor hand jobs on industry websites and online job boards. With several years of experience on an onshore rig, you may want to apply to positions on an offshore rig that offer higher salaries and greater responsibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1- How do you become a floor hand?

To become an oilfield floor hand, you need a high school diploma or GED certificate, a valid driver’s license, and a reliable mode of transportation. Post-secondary education is not required, though completing a certificate program in a mechanical field may help you gain experience with industry tools.

2- Is a Floor hand a roughneck?

Yes. A floor hand is also termed a roughneck. The floor hand duties include pipe handling, casing, and drilling equipment on the drill floor as well as carrying out maintenance on the equipment. Additionally, the floor hand participates in the daily cleaning, housekeeping, and maintenance work on the drill floor and in the shale shaker room.

3- How much does a Floor hand make in Alberta?

The average Floor Hand salary is $58,994 a year and $28 an hour in Alberta, Canada. The average salary range for a Floor Hand on a drilling rig is between $43,571 and $71,839.

4- Is being a Floor hand hard?

Without a doubt. Being a floor hand on a drilling rig is pretty hard as it is a physically demanding job, requiring great stamina to be able to withstand the rigors of life on an oil rig.  This can mean working many days in a row without a break in a cold, harsh environment. Moreover, a floor hand job also requires you to have immense physical strength to be able to lift heavy loads.

5- What are the shift timings of a Floor Hand?

Floor hand on a drilling rig generally receives hourly pay and work a great deal of overtime. They commonly work 12-hour shifts while living on the worksite for two or more weeks, then have extended time off. But on occasion, they work extended hours or an entire day on a single project and don’t stop until it’s done.

6- Is Floor Hand a Good Career Path?

Yes. It is a good career path because the job outlook for floor hands is good as they play a vital role in the daily running of the hundreds of oil rigs across the globe. As such, there is always a demand for fresh new floor hands to take on new challenges.

Usama ChaudryUsama Chaudhry is the CEO of Primus Workforce. Usama is a professional engineer and graduated from the University of Alberta. Computations of electrical and thermal characteristics are among his research interests. Usama's hobbies outside of professional work include reading, playing tennis, and trekking.

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