How to Become a Rig Manager

by Usama Chaudry on July 13, 2022

A rig manager is a professional who oversees the operation of a drilling rig. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the rig is properly maintained and that all safety and environmental regulations are followed.

If you’re interested in a career in the offshore drilling industry, one position you may want to consider is rig manager. As a rig manager, you would be responsible for the overall operations of an offshore drilling rig.

To become a rig manager, you will need to have extensive experience in the oil and gas industry and possess the necessary skills and knowledge to safely manage a drilling operation. Here’s how to become a rig manager.

What Do Rig Managers Do?

Rig managers are responsible for the coordination and management of all activities related to oil and gas drilling operations. This includes overseeing the drilling process, managing the drilling crew, and ensuring that all safety and environmental regulations are followed.

Rig managers must have a thorough understanding of the drilling process, as well as the equipment and personnel involved. They must be able to effectively communicate with all members of the drilling team, in order to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.

The rig manager is ultimately responsible for the success of the drilling operation and must work to ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget, and without any safety incidents.

How To Become a Rig Manager?

There are a few key steps you’ll need to take if you want to become a rig manager. First, you’ll need to gain experience in the oil and gas industry. This can be done by working in various positions related to the industry, such as a rig worker, engineer, or project manager.

Once you have a few years of experience under your belt, you’ll need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a related field. After completing your degree, you’ll be able to apply for management positions at oil and gas companies.

All this might sound overwhelming to you – right?

Don’t worry. Let’s discuss the quick steps regarding how one can become a rig manager:

  1. Earn a high school diploma
  2. Earn petroleum industry-approved training courses
  3. Earn experience
  4. Complete certification in first aid
  5. Complete certification in rig technician
  6. Obtain a valid class 5 driver’s license

1. Earn a High School Diploma

The very first thing that you need to become a rig manager is to fulfill their minimum education requirements which is earning a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Most employers don’t ask for any further qualifications beyond a high school diploma. However, there may be some associated requirements such as:

  • A minimum age requirement of 21 years
  • Two years of experience in the oil rig industry
  • Some training certification that was to be continued during high school

2. Earn Petroleum Industry-Approved Training Courses

After earning a high school diploma, the next thing is to attend some relevant training and get approved certifications. You will find many petroleum industry approved training courses here and there. These courses can trifold your chance of securing a position in the oil and gas industry.

Some of the common training certifications are listed below. Having a few or all the following certifications can help you find better rig manager jobs:

  • CSTS (Construction Safety Training System)
  • TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods)
  • EGSO (electronic General Safety Orientation)
  • Rig technician certification
  • Respirator fit training
  • Valid class 5 driver’s license
  • WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)

3. Earn Experience

Most rig managers gain experience while working in the field, however, prior experience in one post can help you get a better position next time. For instance, a person who has some experience working in a rig is more likely to be deployed as an oil rig manager rather than a freshly graduate inexperienced person.

Therefore, it is always better to gain some experience as internees before applying for management positions.

Doing this will also help you get familiar with the job responsibilities and tasks. Exposure to an oil rig will also clear all your concerns regarding the oil industry.

4. Complete Certification in First Aid

Offshore work is never easy. Working in oil rigs demand high stamina and nerves made of steel. Many times, workers get injured during rig ups and downs and the situation takes the form of a medical emergency. To tackle such situations, an oil rig manager must know about the basic first aid techniques.

Therefore, some employers will ask for a complete certification in first aid before hiring you for the manager post. Though this condition is not necessary, even an ordinary medical certification can improve your chances of securing a bright job.

5. Complete Certification in Rig Technician

Rig management is a highly technical work due to the heavy machinery and complex instruments involved. Dealing with heavy oil rig equipment demands extra vigilance and technical background. Especially the manager must be apt in dealing with all kinds of unforeseen situations.

For this reason, it is recommended to complete a rig technician training program and earn the relevant certification. These are usually one to two years diploma programs that polish your basic technical skills. If you attach this certification while applying for a rig manager job, then you are bound to get an edge over uncertified technicians.

6. Obtain a Valid Class 5 Driver’s License

The oil rig industry involves different tasks. One of those tasks is the transport of fluids from one location to another. Though there are fluid haulers for this purpose who work day and night to haul the fluids in and out of the rig, a manager should know how to drive a typical truck.

This driving ability is important as it saves the manager and crew in a time of need. Even an ordinary class 5 driver’s license is good to go for this job. All you need to do is to get it from a valid licensing agency and attach it with your resume.

Duties and Responsibilities of Rig Manager

The operational responsibilities of a rig manager can vary depending on the specific needs of the employer, but there are some key duties that are common to most rig manager positions.

  • Keeping an eye over all the tasks happening in the rig
  • Providing a daily report of the rig production in the industry
  • To ensure all the rig operations are compliant with the environmental protection and governmental policies
  • Healthy communication and interaction with the workers
  • To provide safety training as well as providing solutions in case of any emergency
  • The rig manager job description also demands you to prepare all the management plans of any project including the budget and other details
  • Ensuring the presence of all the materials required for drilling in the industry
  • Setting an appropriate budget to keep all the costs within a range
  • Keeping check and balance on the working hours, duties, and deadlines of all the workers
  • It’s essential to ensure that all the drilling operations are according to the policies and regulations of a company
  • To ensure the complete maintenance of all the internal procedures in the rig
  • Analyzing the market standards and giving recommendations to workers regarding the procedure manuals for completing the tasks
  • Must keep an eye on the proper working of rig equipment in a controlled and sustainable way
  • Planning and management of the preventive measures by meeting all the first-aid requirements
  • Supervising the progress of drilling operations and working in a protective environment

Educational Requirements For a Rig Manager

A high school diploma is commonly part of most rig manager job descriptions. Besides these, some professional certifications are common among rig managers which include OSHA Safety Certificate, Commercial Driver License (CDL), or Forklift Safety certification. According to the findings:

  • 57% of the rig managers are working with a high school diploma
  • 15% of them have earned a bachelor’s degree
  • 12% of them are having associate degrees
  • 8% are working with diplomas

Average Rig Manager Salary in Canada

People are concerned about the rig manager’s salary before entering into this profession. The average salary of an oil rig manager is $86,519 in Canada. Moreover, it also depends upon the educational level, training, and certifications in the field. Workers with higher educational levels, courses, or certifications are eligible for higher salaries in the field because of their experiences.

Traits & Skills Required for Rig Manager

If you’re thinking of pursuing a career as a rig manager, then it’s important to know what skills and traits are required for the job. Without the necessary qualities, you may not be successful in this field.

So, what are some of the key requirements?

Keep reading to find out!

1. Leadership

The management professions need the leadership qualities in a person because they are essential for guiding the team properly. Motivating the team workers and encouraging them for the project fulfillment requires the leadership skills of the rig managers to help them perform their tasks.

2. Better Communication Skills

Communication is a key to influencing the team members and workers for the practical completion of all the tasks. Moreover, better communication skills are essential for solving the complexities and procedures in the oil and gas industry. Also, a person needs better communication skills for constructive criticism in the field.

3. Seeking Solutions

Problem-solving or finding the solutions to complex situations is essential in drilling occupations. The rig industries include the complex procedures and working of different tools and equipment. So, the rig manager job description demands a person to have better problem-solving skills.

4. Technical Traits

One of the most critical skills needed to work in the oil and gas industry is the technical skills and traits for effectively resolving issues. You should have detailed information about the technical things such as data analysis, designing and planning of projects, and implementing the new processes in this field.


This wraps up our guide on how to become a rig manager. Becoming a rig manager is not an easy task, but with the right experience and drive you can make it happen. Do you have what it takes?

The oilfield services industry is constantly changing, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest news and technology. If you want to be a successful rig manager, then you need to be knowledgeable about drilling operations and able to handle any situation that comes up. It also helps to have some experience in the field. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We think you are!

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.