How to get a offshore job
- Fly to your job in a helicopter?
- Earn high wages. US entry level roustabout wages start between $1600 up to $2600 per week.
- Most land based jobs don't pay anything near that much just starting out AND. if you are motivated you can move up much faster than with regular jobs.
- Work in an industry most people know very little about?
- Get off the beaten path. One thing you will not have to deal with on a daily basis is traffic. For some of you, this is reason enough to go. You can be at your job in 2 minutes flat.
- If you are now commuting many miles to work every day, think of how much money you can save on fuel alone!
- Enjoy free meals (4 times a day) with snacks in between. Tuesdays and Saturdays are steak day, Friday is seafood. Take all you want just be sure to eat all you take.
- The best rigs have top of the line gym equipment, saunas, hot tubs, pool tables and ping pong tables.
- Internet and phone connections to family and loved ones are readily available on all rigs.
- All of the newer rigs have VCR's, cable and internet in every room. Popcorn and movies start one hour after every 12 hour work shift (called a "tower").
- Imagine for a moment what it would be like if you only had to work six months out of the year. Travel. Start a business on the side. Do nothing. Rig schedules are usually one day off for every day worked. For example, if your schedule is 14/14 that means you get a two week vacation every month. (Yes, if you want to make extra money you can work extra time.)
- Work with a many different types of motivated people in a multitude of different job environments and locations.
- Have the opportunity / training to learn a wide variety of offshore trades and skills (cross train).
- Work with state of the art equipment (most of the time).
Accommodations, like wages, vary from company to company, location to location and rig to rig. One thing which will remain the same is the cost. It will cost you nothing, accommodation and meal wise, to work offshore.Automotive background, no prior offshore experience
Excellent living facilities / meals
On board home gym
HBO, Show time and lots of movies
4 men to a room with TV, VCR and DVD
Keep in mind this good fortune does not happen to everyone. Some new hires end up on a rust bucket six months from the scrap yard. So what? If you get 6 months on a rust bucket you will be considered as having that all important "offshore experience".
Even with this current recession, especially for all who live in Canada and the US, if you are not working in the oilfield - it is not because there are no jobs.
These jobs are not restricted to men only. Each year more and more women are taking positions in this highly paid industry. Here is a recent ABC news video clip about the large number of women who are giving the men a run for their money,
These pages were written to give the green hand a realistic look as how to go about getting an offshore, oilfield, oil rig or maritime job. They come from many years of personal experience, working in both US and international waters.
Beginning as a worm (green hand) and working my way up to rig welder, welding inspector, crane operator, maintenance foreman and ending as a crane superintendent in charge of other crane operators.
At one time I was just as green as you, had NOT A CLUE as to what this was all about but knew it was something I wanted to do. I'm living testimony my recommendations work. The basic requirements are simple but getting the job will require a very determined effort on your part. Having the following will be helpful:
- A positive attitude
- Good work ethics - slackers don't last long
- The ability to get along with others of different cultures while working in isolated and hostile environments
- A good sense of humor is most helpful
- A bit of luck is always welcome
Looking back over the years I see I was very fortunate to have have traveled as much as I did and to work at all the different places I've worked at in such a variety of interesting and rewarding jobs. Most of the time the people I crewed with were easy to get along with. On occasion I had to work with some real jerks as I imagine you will too.
There were many challenges to meet and overcome. New skills to learn, difficult people to deal with, not to mention numerous near tragedies - crane accidents, horrific North sea storms, Gulf of Mexico hurricanes and even a catastrophic rig blowout - a rig hand's worst nightmare.
I was fortunate enough to not only have experienced it but to have lived through it and can pass my experiences on to others who want to give it a try. I've seen and done a lot of things in my time. Yes, it is more exciting than your normal land job, but it is not all fun and games. Sometimes is is downright frightening.
Now, in my golden years of retirement, I use my experience and knowledge of the industry to provide you and others like you with the necessary information to get hired offshore. Here are a few things that made working the oil patch the career of choice for me:
Having a decent job I absolutely LOVED
Earning a nice wage
Being part of something that is important
And Best of All - Working only 6 months out of the year!
There is one thing I can tell you that is 100% true and can be verified by anyone who has ever worked out there. Working offshore is like NOTHING you will experience in any other type of job.
You will either love it or hate it
It will not take you long to find out
Minimum - 18 in the US and Canada.
Maximum - I get this a lot. How old is too old? Some of you are up in your years and are wondering if you might be a bit over the hill. I can share some light on this from my personal experiences.
The last time I went out I was 52. Even though I was the next to oldest guy on my crew, I could still hook it up with the young bucks. It was a land based job but offered the same pay and benefits as offshore. I took it because I wanted to get the feel of the industry one last time before I retired and this was exactly the opportunity I needed:
- Worked 7 and 7 out of Port Fourchon, in South Louisiana
- Classified as a crane operator / mechanic-welder / roustabout supervisor
- Most of the men were between the ages of 25 and 45
- Next came 25 and younger
- Last were the old timers like me, 45 to 63
I got teased a lot about what an old guy I was to still be working and that I needed to be in a home for the aged, etc. On my first yearly evaluation I was told "I was old, slow and tired out easy." How about that for positive input from management? I was doing a great job, but that just goes to show the mentality of those in "management". Some things never change.
I was fortunate to get the job, having had major back and knee surgery from an accident I sustained while working on a jack up rig offshore
Nigeria. As safe as everyone tries to be, offshore is a very dangerous place to work.
If you choose this as your career you will run into some very backward thinking individuals. Hunker down, do your job to the best of your ability and don't let anyone push you around. Work is work. Pull your share of the load and everything else will be OK.
Whether you are too old depends on you. Any offshore entry level job is going to be physically demanding. You will be working a minimum of 12 hours a day, rain or shine for at least 7 days straight. You know your capabilities and limitations better than anyone.
There are times of inactivity, sometimes even days of it. Mostly there is day after grueling day of 12 hour plus shifts, doing hard ass manual labor. Depending on your location and the time of year, it will be:
Not too hot, not too cold with a nice breeze and good cloud cover - perfect conditions
Hotter than hell's kitchen and not a breeze for days
Nonstop rain, freezing temperatures and 50 MPH plus winds
And that's just the weather!
If you think you can do it, give it a try!
Documentation / Schools
If you work anywhere in the US near offshore oil rigs, boats that service the rigs or docks / helipads where people and supplies leave to go offshore you will have to have a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC card) issued by the US government. This is a mandatory credential and you will not be allowed near any of these facilities without one.
Also, consider applying for your US Coast Guard Merchant Mariners Document (MMD) as soon as possible. More and more companies are requiring you to have one of these before they will talk to you about offshore employment. It's best to have one or at least be in the process of getting one.
There are lots of schools that give classes for offshore workers. While completing any of these courses is not a guarantee of employment, it will demonstrate initiative on your part will put you ahead of the thousands of others trying to break into this industry at this time. Also, these schools are in day to day contact with employers. Information on where to go for these documents and shools is found in chapter 13. Here is a brief outline of courses offered to oil riggers:
IADC Rig Pass
Well Head Maintenance / Safety
Crane Safety / Cargo Handling
H2S Orientation / Safety
There are colleges in Louisiana and Mississippi that allow you to pursue your chosen degree while working a 7/7 oilfield schedule.
Catch 22 - And this will be THE KICKER for a lot of you
If you are like the average person working in the typical land locked job you are probably chomping at the bits to get out there. The trouble is, no matter where you apply and how much you plead your case about what a great hand you will make if given the chance, the answer you keep hearing over and over is "Sorry, but since you have no PREVIOUS offshore / maritime experience we will not be able to hire you at this time." How do you plan to overcome this?
What do you do? How do you break in? These were questions I asked myself when I started my offshore career many years ago. Once I found the answers, I kept accurate notes about my experiences. Eventually I put all this together and created "The Complete Offshore Employment Handbook."
How about that? I wrote my very own book. AND what I did even inspired a few others to write books of their own about particular circumstances in their life. If you are interested on how I went from oil rigger to author, read chapter 5.
There are a lot of sites claiming to have the "in" for offshore oil rig jobs. Me? I've been there. During my offshore career I've sailed the oceans of the world (moving rigs) and watched many a sunrise and sunset standing on an offshore platform with nothing visible except sky and water.
In my time I weathered out out least 3 dozen hurricanes. If you want to see mad chaos in action, be offshore when hurricane evacuation starts. Official hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico is from June 1 to November 30. Quite a few months in there, quite a lot of hurricanes and quite a lot of evacuating.
The most I ever evacuated in one year was 3 times. You don't just shut one of these rigs down and go home. Once the alert is given, it takes days to prepare a rig for evacuation. All the pipe has to be pulled out of the hole and racked back, anything lose on deck has to be secured and all engines and power generating equipment has to be shut down.
Having worked as a rig welder for many years, I did quite a bit of "securing the deck". The most common way to do this is welding whatever needs securing to the deck. This involves quite a bit of rod burning. Sometimes others with welding experience pitch in and help. If you are the welder you have to keep your eye on these guys because some will weld it way too much. Whatever gets welded has to eventually be cut loose. Enthusiastic helpers can make a lot of extra and unnecessary work for you if you don't keep your eye on them.
THEN, once the rig is secured, you have to wait on transportation. If you are lucky you will get a chopper. But more than likely you will not be lucky as the rest of the Gulf is doing the same thing, hunkering down and preparing to evacuate. You might get a bird. If not, that 2 hour chopper ride will be a 12-14 hour boat ride in some pretty rough seas.
The fun part is if you evacuate the company will put you up in a a motel or hotel until the all clear is given. You will be paid for this time, usually. There are some companies that will try and cheat you out of your pay, but most will not.
Hurricanes are funny things, you never know what they are going to do until they do it. They will stop and not move for days, make drastic and unexpected turns and even go backwards. During hurricane season one might blow through, the all clear is given, and about the time you get back to normal operations here comes another one.
It's not uncommon to evacuate the rig, go to a shelter till the storm blows over, go back to the rig and then have to turn around and evacuate again. All the while the pay goes one (with most companies). Working offshore is fun and exiting for sure, but is also one of the most dangerous occupations in existence. Keep this in mind if this is your first go.
I hope I have provided insight and answered some questions about what working offshore is all about. It is a job like none other, a much different world than most people are familiar with. The way to go about getting one of these jobs is to contact companies engaged in offshore operations, let them know what your skills and background are and that you are available for work. Complete details are found in chapters 14, 15, 16 and 17.
If you are interested in obtaining your personal copy of "The Complete Offshore Employment Handbook" I've got some great news for you. This one of a kind publication is given as a FREE BONUS when you subscribe to our Direct Access subscription services.
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