Derrickman / Derrickhand

The Derrickman or Derrickhand is the person who sits atop the Derrick on a drilling rig. The primary responsibilities  include assisting with operations to lift and sink casing and drill pipe, as well as drill collars. Their job is to guide the stands of the drill pipe into  the fingers at the top of the Derrick. Other duties might include monitoring pH and calcium levels, viscosity and the mud weight (density), adding chemicals and oil based fluids, and being responsible for the shale shakers and mud pump. Usually based on a drilling rig or platform for two or three weeks at a time, followed by two of three weeks rest period onshore. Work is undertaken on a shift basis day and night, usually  working 12 hours at a time.

About this role

Typical duties

  • Ensures that in the Derrick there are no loose tools or debris lying around and no loose ropes hanging from the board
  • Reports faulty equipment and damage to the Derrick structure
  • Aligns drill pipe and secures its foundation and connection to the other pipes
  • Operates and maintains drilling rig diesel motors, transmissions, pumps and drilling mud systems, and mix mud chemicals, cements and additives
  • Reads gauges to monitor pressure, density, rate and concentration and adjust pumping procedures as required
  • Ensures the smooth running of the mud pumps and all the mud processing equipment, performing routine maintenance on the same
  • Carries out routine mud sampling and simple weight and viscosity checks and adds chemicals as required
  • Maintains all mud pumping and processing areas in a clean and tidy condition
  • Reports any breaches of safety procedures to supervision / management
  • Actively participates in and promotes company health and safety campaigns, policies and procedures, and ensures personal safety and that of colleagues at all times
  • Provides support as part of the drilling emergency response team

In the industry

Works closely with drilling engineering and completions teams, to drill for oil and gas in new or existing fields. Derrickhands can be employed onshore or offshore, and are typically hired by specialist drilling and well services companies that provide contracted services to the operating companies. The typical career development route for a Derrickhand is via an initial position as a Roustabout. Based on experience gained, there are a number of more senior positions including Roughneck, which an individual will progress through until reaching the level of Derrickhand. The timescale for an individual to progress from Roustabout to Derrickhand will vary, and is usually between 5 and 7 years.


  • Office
  • Outdoors
  • Offshore


  • University
  • College
  • Apprenticeships

What do I need?

Key Skills

  • Team working
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Organising
  • IT
  • Numerical
  • Practical
  • Creativity
  • Working to deadlines
  • Flexibility


Entry requirements:

  • Basic offshore induction and emergency training (BOSIET)
  • Offshore Medical Certificate
  • OPITO Minimum Industry Safety Standards (MIST)
  • Minimum work experience in a mining or oil related company for 1-3 years is required.

Employers might also look for:

HNC or equivalent in engineering related subject