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Derrickhands are crew members on offshore oil or gas rigs. They work on a platform attached to the derrick (mast), usually about 20-25 metres above the rig floor. The derrick supports the rig’s drilling assembly. Derrickhands work under the supervision of the driller.

They are also known as Drilling Fluid Operators (DFO).

The Work

You could be:


The figures below are only a guide. Actual salaries may vary, depending on:

The salary for derrickhands is normally in the range of £28,000 to £30,000 per year. (In addition, employers provide accommodation and food, as well as work clothing.) With experience, this can rise up to £45,000 or more.


Workforce Employment Status

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Getting In

The UK oil and gas industry is located mainly off the east coast of Scotland and England. But there are also fields west of Shetland and in the Irish Sea. Employers include operating companies (usually oil companies) that hold exploration and production licences, drilling companies with contracts to do drilling work and a wide range of other major contractors and companies offering specialist technical services. The main recruitment contacts in Scotland are in the Aberdeen area.

What Does it Take?

You need to have:

You need to be able to:


Getting On

More Information

Although some workers spend only a short time on the rigs, many others spend most of their careers – often more than 20 years – offshore.

Most of the major oil and gas reserves in the North Sea have been worked, but new technology is allowing the exploitation of smaller and more marginal fields.

There are also good opportunities for skilled and experienced workers in other parts of the world.


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The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Tel: 01925 515200
Twitter: @cogent_skills

Cogent is the Sector Skills Council for the science industries.

Energy Institute
Tel: 020 7467 7100
Twitter: @EnergyInstitute

Maritime UK
Tel: 0333 050 3663
Twitter: @MaritimeUK

Tel: 01224 787800
Twitter: @OPITOGlobal

OPITO provides services to the oil and gas industry relating to health and safety, education and skills training.

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