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Rotary Drill Operator

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What is a Rotary Drill Operator?

Occupation Description 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.

Drill Operator Responsibilities

  • Position and prepare truck-mounted derricks at drilling areas specified on field maps.
  • Plug observation wells, and restore sites.
  • Count sections of drill rod to determine depths of boreholes.
  • Clean and oil pulleys, blocks, and cables.
  • Connect sections of drill pipe, using hand tools and powered wrenches and tongs.
  • Start and examine operation of slush pumps to ensure circulation and consistency of drilling fluid or mud in well.

What Every Drill Operator Should Know

These are the skills Rotary Drill Operators say are the most useful in their careers:

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.

  • Drilling Field Professional
  • Drilling Supervisor
  • Floor Hand
  • Drill Operator
  • Rotary Drill Operator

Is There Job Demand for Rotary Drill Operators?

There were about 16,700 jobs for Rotary Drill Operator in 2016 (in the United States). 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.

What is the Average Salary of a Drill Operator

Rotary Drill Operators make between $32,110 and $87,790 a year.


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

How much do Rotary Drill Operators make in each U.S. state?

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?


Who Employs Rotary Drill Operators?


Below are examples of industries where Rotary Drill Operators work:


Similar Careers

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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