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Rotary Drill Operator

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What Does it Take to Be a Rotary Drill Operator?

Example of Drill Operator Job Set up or operate a variety of drills to remove underground oil and gas, or remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.

Life As a Drill Operator

  • Bolt together pump and engine parts, and connect tanks and flow lines.
  • Repair or replace defective parts of machinery, such as rotary drill rigs, water trucks, air compressors, and pumps, using hand tools.
  • Weigh clay, and mix with water and chemicals to make drilling mud.
  • Line drilled holes with pipes, and install all necessary hardware, to prepare new wells.
  • Locate and recover lost or broken bits, casings, and drill pipes from wells, using special tools.
  • Remove core samples during drilling to determine the nature of the strata being drilled.

What a Drill Operator Should Know

Below is a list of the skills most Rotary Drill Operators say are important on the job.

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Instructing: Teaching others how to do something.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Types of Drill Operator Jobs

  • Daylight Driller
  • Oil Rig Driller
  • Drilling Field Professional
  • Floor Hand
  • Prospecting Driller

Are There Job Opportunities for Rotary Drill Operators?

In the United States, there were 16,700 jobs for Rotary Drill Operator in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 24.6% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 4,100 new jobs for Rotary Drill Operator by 2026. There will be an estimated 2,600 positions for Drill Operator per year.


The states with the most job growth for Drill Operator are Wyoming, North Dakota, and Georgia. Watch out if you plan on working in West Virginia, Nebraska, or Indiana. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Drill Operator Average Salary

The typical yearly salary for Rotary Drill Operators is somewhere between $32,110 and $87,790.


Rotary Drill Operators who work in Alaska, Indiana, or North Dakota, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Rotary Drill Operators in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $42,450
Alaska $74,290
Arizona $48,650
Arkansas $43,870
California $66,630
Colorado $55,870
Florida $47,130
Georgia $34,310
Illinois $45,100
Indiana $67,000
Kansas $44,920
Louisiana $52,520
Maryland $56,540
Michigan $41,080
New Mexico $44,540
New York $53,120
North Dakota $66,440
Ohio $45,210
Oklahoma $57,620
Pennsylvania $54,040
Texas $56,490
Utah $56,700
Virginia $52,530
West Virginia $55,790
Wyoming $61,510

Tools & Technologies Used by Rotary Drill Operators

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Rotary Drill Operators may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word

How to Become a Drill Operator

What kind of Rotary Drill Operator requirements are there?


How Long Does it Take to Become a Drill Operator?


Where Rotary Drill Operators Work


Rotary Drill Operators work in the following industries:


Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Those thinking about becoming a Rotary Drill Operator might also be interested in the following careers:


Image Credit: Tomwsulcer via Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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