If you’ve been thinking about beginning a career offshore, it’s important you know how to get into the industry, and what qualifications and experience you need! As an offshore recruitment agency, we work to fill offshore vacancies with candidates at all levels. This includes helping people at the very beginning of their offshore careers! You may have heard the term ‘roustabout’ mentioned before. But what is a roustabout, and what does it have to do with kickstarting your oil and gas career?
A roustabout is an entry-level oil and gas job that serves as general hands. As a roustabout, you will be responsible for various tasks on a rig: keeping equipment and surfaces clean; painting; basic chemical management; minor repairs and assisting in major repairs; preparing and fitting equipment; loading and unloading; and generally maintaining the rig and assisting other workers. This means you end up with a vast breadth of experience to draw on when moving into more specialised positions. There are generally many roustabout positions based on the North Sea drilling rigs available.
When you first join the crew, you will be a ‘greenhand roustabout.’ A greenhand, or new roustabout, is closely supervised while they learn the ropes. Offshore roustabouts with more experience can operate more independently and often eventually apply for promotions within the offshore industry.
As offshore roustabout jobs are entry-level positions, you don’t need to have worked on a rig before! There are two main ways to become a roustabout; via an apprenticeship, or just applying directly.
If you want to go the apprenticeship route, you should pick one that is relevant to the industry. Consider engineering, mechanics, operations, etc. To land one of these, you need certain qualifications depending on whether it is an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship. For the former, you will probably need three or four Nat 5s (or equivalent), including English and Maths. For the latter, you may need a few more Nat 5s, and possibly more specialised ones. All of this can vary depending on who is providing the apprenticeship and what type it is.
If you would prefer to apply to offshore roustabout vacancies directly, it will help to have some relevant experience, though not necessarily on an offshore rig. Ex-forces personnel or those who have previous experience in the fishing industry will often transition well into these roles. Employers will also favour things like reliability and dedication - ie. long stretches in a job, rather than lots of short stints. Some experience or interest in repairing and maintaining machinery will help, along with evidence of physical fitness. However, there is no one-size-fits-all. Focus on tailoring your CV and experience as best you can!
An offshore recruitment agency such as Global Resources Network can support you in applying for a North Sea offshore roustabout job.
There are a few additional certifications needed to allow you to work on a rig as a roustabout.
The first is a BOSIET Certificate - or, a Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training Certificate. This is a course you undertake ideally before applying for jobs, so you can be ready to go right away. A number of accredited organisations provide this course. As OPITO puts it, the aim of a BOSIET is to “introduce delegates to the specific safety issues and regimes relevant to offshore installations, and to equip them with the basic emergency response knowledge and skills for travelling to and from offshore installations by helicopter”. In other words, ensure you are aware of specific risks and safety issues ahead of doing the job.
Secondly, candidates also require MIST which stands for Minimum Industry Safety Training. This is a training course that outlines the key safety elements required for working within the oil and gas industry. It ensures all existing workforce consistently maintain basic offshore survival and safety skills.
The third is an offshore medical certificate. You must pass this in order to work offshore. This is carried out by physicians who are approved by the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) Health Advisory Committee, and it lasts two years. They evaluate your general health to ensure you are fit to work on a rig away from nearby hospitals and GPs. They also ensure your hearing and vision (including colour vision) are in good working condition.
Roustabouts are a key part of offshore work. They ensure daily tasks are completed, and work on the rig runs smoothly. With all this information, you should be all set to begin your career. The last step is to search for jobs - something with which offshore agency Global Resources Network can certainly help. Be sure to check out our Candidate Hub for offshore roustabout job vacancies, and contact us with any questions you may have. Good luck!