How to Become a Derrickhand in 2022

by Usama Chaudry on July 1, 2022

In Canada, the oil and gas industry is a big part of the economy. There are many jobs in this industry, and one of the most important is that of Derrickhand. If you want to learn how to become a Derrickhand in Canada, there are a few things you need to know. In this blog post, we will discuss what it takes to become a Derrickhand in Canada and give you some tips on how to get started. So if you’re interested in working in the oil and gas industry, keep reading!

What Does a Derrickhand Do?

A Derrickhand is responsible for handling derrick on oil rigs. Derrick is a lifting device that helps in lowering or raising the drilling machinery over an oil well. The person who guides the stands of the drill pipe into the fingers on the derrick is called a derrick hand.

Besides doing derrick tasks, these people also work with mud engineers to maintain the quality of mud required. In this position, you direct the pipe as it is connected to the drill hole by your crew, mix the drilling fluid, or “mud,” and repair and maintain the rig and related machinery, such as the circulation system.

Your duties and responsibilities also include keeping an eye on the mud pump manifolds, helping out in the chemical sack room, and ensuring the proper and secure operation of pumps, mud lines, valves, and gauges. You keep the pit area, mud house, walkways, and other areas of the rig clean, tidy, and clutter-free.

How to Become a Derrickhand?

To become a Derrickhand, you don’t require any advanced qualifications. Most of the firms only require a high school diploma or GED equivalent along with some experience for this post. However, acquiring higher education might help you in securing a better job package. Also, you need to have a good command of advanced English so that you may better understand your job responsibilities and communicate effectively with your co-professionals. Some firms may also ask for a class B CDL license.

Duties and Responsibilities of Derrickhand

Before searching “how to become a Derrickhand”, it’s better to first learn about the duties of a Derrickhand. Being an oil rig derrickman is a tough job that requires strong stamina and a high sense of responsibility. After taking verbal and written instructions from the rig manager, a Derrickhand performs the following duties:

  • Handling the drill pipe for extended periods of time in and out of the racking board
  • Maintenance of mud systems includes mixing mud, checking mud properties, reviewing the chemical composition of the mud, and interpreting daily mud reports.
  • Derrickhand duties and responsibilities also include safe handling of different types of mud additives
  • Servicing of all the mud equipment including shale shaker, distillers, centrifugal pumps, mud pumps, valves, gauges, and desander. Keeping the walkways and pumps cleaned and functioning also comes under his duties
  • Maintenance of rotary equipment by performing the duties such as rig up and rig down drills
  • Safely operating the air hoist
  • Latching and unlatching of elevators
  • Scrubbing and painting of rigs
  • Using different hand tools for equipment maintenance tasks

Educational Requirements for a Derrickhand

Derrick Hands typically doesn’t require a college education. Only 12% of Derrick Hands graduates received a diploma, making the High School Diploma the most frequent degree for this group. The ability to focus on the details and dexterity are all desirable traits for this role.

Earning common professional credentials among Derrick Hands, such as the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), the OSHA Safety Certificate, or the Operator Certification, is a smart idea if you want to thrive in your job as a Derrick Hand.

Average Salary for a Derrickhand in Canada

Derrickhands typically earn more than entry-level workers in oil rigs. An average Derrickhand makes $79,884 a year in Canada. This is an average estimate that may vary from location to location and employer to employer. Some firms in Canada are even paying their Derrickhands as high as $121,017 a year. You can expect such high salaries in the cities like Kindersley (SK), Grand Prairie (AB), Brooks (AB), and Nisku (AB). 

The lowest-paid Derrickhand salary in Canada is about $52,731 per year. Along with salary, you may expect the following benefits while working as a Derrickhand:

  • Life and disability insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Paid time off

Skills Required for Derrickhand

Derrickhand has a major role in a drilling rig second only to the rig manager. For the fair accomplishment of their duties, they must be extra vigilant when handling different tasks. Working on an oil rig demands great stamina, therefore not everyone has the ability to survive there. You need to be competent, industrialist, active, and physically fit to get this job.

To qualify for Derrickhand jobs, you must possess the following skills:

  1. Management Skills
  2. Communication Skills
  3. Systems Analysis
  4. Troubleshooting Skills
  5. Decision Making Skills
  6. Active Learning Skills
  7. Technical Skills

1. Management Skills

To be a successful derrick man, you need proficient management skills. Management tasks include management of personnel resources as well as the drilling crew. Choosing the best people for the job and directing them during the work is also included in his duties. He coordinates the team and manages the smooth operation of drilling machinery. Repairing the systems or machines as per requirement also requires efficient management skills.

2. Communication Skills

Good communication skills are required to convey the information effectively to the crew members. Not only verbal but effective written communication skills are also required to communicate effectively as per demands. Good negotiation also helps in binding the team together and in reconciling differences.

3. Systems Analysis

Determining the metrics or performance indicators of the system and the steps required to enhance or correct performance in light of the system’s objectives.

4. Troubleshooting Skills

Effective problem solving and troubleshooting skills help to identify the causes of operating errors and find their best possible solutions. Identification of complex problems, reviewing all the related situations, and implementation of solutions all require these skills to be strong.

5. Decision Making Skills

Strong decision-making skills are required to make the right judgment regarding the costs and benefits of potential actions. Choosing the most appropriate tools and the persons who will be using those tools require efficient decision-making abilities.

6. Active Learning Skills

Understanding the implications and developing learning for future problem solving and decision-making demands an urge for active learning. Learning helps you in selecting and using the most appropriate methods and instrumentation according to the prevailing situations.

7. Technical Skills

Controlling operations of equipment and repairing the machines in case of any malfunctioning require proficient technical skills. These skills include identification of technical issues in the work processes and knowing the right use of oil rig tools. Routine maintenance of equipment also demands one to have sound technical knowledge.


This wraps up our guide on how to become a Derrickhand. Derrickhands are in high demand and will continue to be through 2022. Derrickhands have a number of important responsibilities, including moving pipes, maintaining equipment, and ensuring the safety of workers. The best way to become a Derrickhand is to have experience working in the oilfield industry.

If you’re looking for a career that’s in high demand with great pay and plenty of opportunity for advancement, becoming a Derrickhand may be the perfect choice for you. With experience in the oilfield industry under your belt, you’ll be primed for success when it comes time to apply for one of these positions. Are you ready to start your journey towards becoming a Derrickhand?

Usama ChaudryUsama has a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering 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.


The Primus Workforce team is proudly built on hands-on industry knowledge and experience.