Career Guides
Oil & Gas
Floor Hand

Career Guide: How to become a Floor Hand


Welcome to your comprehensive guide on becoming a Floor Hand, a vital role in the dynamic world of drilling operations. This career guide is designed to equip you with a thorough understanding of what it means to be a Floor Hand, detailing the necessary qualifications, responsibilities, and potential career path. Whether you're just starting out or looking to switch careers, understanding the scope and demands of this position is essential.

In the following sections, we will explore every facet of what being a Floor Hand entails, from the foundational skills you'll need to develop, to the potential income and future job outlook. Our aim is to provide you with insightful, clear, and valuable information that will aid you in assessing this career's suitability for your goals and interests.

If you're interested in the oil and gas industry and enjoy physical, hands-on work, read on to uncover how a career as a Floor Hand could be the perfect fit for you.

What Is a Floor Hand?

A Floor Hand, also commonly known as a "roughneck", plays a crucial role in the operations of oil and gas drilling rigs. This position is generally considered an entry-level job within the oilfield industry, but it demands a high level of physical stamina and a strong commitment to safety protocols. Floor Hands work directly on the rig floor and are a part of the drill crew responsible for a variety of manual labor tasks.

The main duty of a Floor Hand is to assist in the setup, operation, and maintenance of the drilling equipment. This role is integral to the extraction of oil or gas, involving hands-on work that requires precise coordination with other crew members to ensure efficient and safe drilling operations. Despite the physically demanding nature of the job, being a Floor Hand provides vital experience in the oilfield industry and can lead to more advanced careers on oil rigs.

Most notably, Floor Hands are involved from the very beginning of the drilling process, providing the muscle and mechanical skills necessary that keep operations running smoothly. They must also be vigilant about the condition of the drill and surrounding machinery, reporting any faults or abnormalities that might compromise safety or efficiency. This position is not just about physical labor; it also requires sharp attention to detail and a fundamental understanding of mechanical operations.

The role of a Floor Hand is essential for any drilling operation and provides a stepping stone to numerous other career opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

Key Responsibilities of a Floor Hand

The role of a floor hand, often found on oil rigs and drilling sites, is fundamental to the operations involved in oil and gas extraction. Understanding the primary responsibilities of this position can help ascertain whether this career path aligns with one's skills and interests. A floor hand, also known as a roughneck, handles various demanding physical tasks that require precise execution to ensure safety and efficiency on the drill floor.

  • Handling Drilling Equipment: The floor hand is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the drilling equipment. This involves setting up and securing the drill rig at the start of the operation and dismantling it upon completion. Regular maintenance, such as lubricating parts and making minor repairs, is also essential to prevent machine failure.
  • Manipulating Pipe: One of the primary tasks involves managing lengths of pipe or drill stem. This includes the loading and unloading of pipes from trucks, positioning them correctly on the drill floor, and carefully adding or removing segments of the pipe from the drilling assembly.
  • Maintaining Cleanliness: Given the nature of the drilling operation, maintaining a clean and safe work environment is crucial. This involves cleaning up spills, disposing of hazardous materials properly, and ensuring all tools and surfaces are free from debris that could pose a risk.
  • Monitoring Safety: Safety is paramount in such high-risk environments. Floor hands must continuously monitor conditions for safety compliance, report any potential hazards, and participate in safety drills and meetings. They are often trained in emergency response techniques and must wear personal protective equipment at all times.
  • Communication: Effective communication is critical on the field. Floor hands work closely with other members of the drill crew, such as the driller and derrick hand, to ensure operations run smoothly. They must swiftly communicate any issues that can compromise the safety or efficiency of the drilling process.

This overview clearly illustrates that the job of a floor hand, while physically demanding and often conducted in challenging environments, is crucial for the successful extraction of oil and gas. It requires a robust commitment to safety, keen attention to detail, and the ability to perform strenuous tasks efficiently under pressure.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Floor Hand?

Becoming a floor hand can vary in time depending on a few key factors, such as prior experience and the specific requirements of the employer. Typically, entering this profession does not require extensive formal education, which can expedite the process of starting in this field.

Initial Training: Most new floor hands begin their career with short-term on-the-job training. This training usually lasts for several weeks and is designed to introduce the basic duties and safety procedures required on a drilling rig. The duration of training can depend on the company and the complexity of the tasks involved.

Experience: While formal education is not strictly necessary, having a background in mechanical tasks or experience in similar physical jobs can shorten the learning curve significantly. Those with experience in construction, mechanics, or similar fields may find that they can pick up the necessary skills more quickly.

Mentorship and Progression: After the initial training period, floor hands often learn more detailed skills on the job under the supervision of more experienced workers. The time it takes to become fully proficient can vary widely. Some workers might feel comfortable in their roles within a few months, while others might need a year or more to gain the confidence and skills needed to handle all aspects of the job independently.

Certifications: In some cases, additional certifications might be required, which could also add to the time before someone becomes a fully operational floor hand. For example, specific safety certifications that cover first aid or hazardous materials management might be necessary depending on the location and type of drilling operations.

In general, you can expect to spend anywhere from a few weeks to several months in training and on-the-job learning before you can operate as a competent floor hand. This timeframe is relatively short in comparison to many other technical careers which require extensive education and training periods.

What are the Qualifications Required to Become a Floor Hand?

To embark on a career as a floor hand in the oil and gas industry, there are specific qualifications and requirements that must be met. While formal education might not be strictly necessary, possessing certain certifications and undergoing specific training can significantly enhance one’s prospects in this field.

Educational Background

Generally, a high school diploma or GED is the minimum educational requirement for a floor hand. However, some employers may prefer candidates who have completed post-secondary education in a relevant field such as mechanical engineering technology, petroleum engineering, or other related technical disciplines. These courses can provide a foundational understanding of the industry which can be advantageous in practical operations.

Professional Certifications

Acquiring professional certifications can also be crucial for a floor hand. One essential certification is the Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET), which covers offshore survival, fire prevention and fire fighting, first aid, and personal safety and social responsibilities at sea. Similarly, certifications like H2S Alive and First Aid can make candidates more appealing to potential employers.

Physical and Medical Requirements

Given the physically demanding nature of the job, candidates need to meet specific physical and medical standards. This often includes passing a physical fitness test and a drug and alcohol screening. Moreover, a valid driver’s license is typically required due to the remote locations of many drilling sites.


While entry-level positions do not necessarily require prior experience, having some background in manual labor or mechanical trades can be beneficial. Experience in industries such as construction, mining, or maritime can provide a practical skill set that is easily transferable to oil rig operations.

Legal Requirements

Legal eligibility to work in the country where the oil rig operates is crucial. For international positions, this might mean securing the appropriate visas or work permits.

In summary, becoming a floor hand does not have excessively stringent academic requirements, but a combination of basic education, relevant certifications, physical fitness, and sometimes, prior related experience can significantly enhance employment prospects in this challenging field.

What are the Skills and Knowledge Required to Become a Floor Hand?

Becoming a successful floor hand involves a blend of physical capabilities, technical skills, and knowledge of safety protocols. This role is pivotal in the operations of oil rigs and drilling sites. Here are some key skills and knowledge areas vital for anyone aiming to enter this field:

  • Mechanical Skills: Floor hands deal with complex drilling equipment. Understanding how these machines operate helps prevent operational delays and ensures the maintenance of equipment.
  • Physical Strength and Stamina: The job is physically demanding, involving lifting heavy equipment and long hours of manual labor. Being physically fit is crucial for efficiency and safety.
  • Teamwork: A floor hand works closely with other crew members. The ability to collaborate effectively ensures the safety and productivity of the team.
  • Attention to Detail: Precision is key in avoiding accidents and ensuring that tasks are performed according to protocol.
  • Safety Knowledge: An acute understanding of workplace safety practices and emergency response techniques is essential, especially since floor hands operate in potentially hazardous environments.
  • Problem-Solving Abilities: Identifying and resolving issues swiftly helps minimize downtime and can prevent accidents.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication ensures clear instructions and safety alerts are shared among team members promptly and clearly.

In addition to these skills, a floor hand should have a foundational understanding of:

  • Hydraulics and Pneumatics: Knowledge of hydraulic and pneumatic systems is often necessary, given their prevalent use in drilling operations.
  • Basic Computer Literacy: While not always mandatory, being comfortable with basic software can be beneficial for dealing with technologically advanced equipment.
  • Industry Regulations: Staying informed about the latest industry regulations and standards helps ensure compliance and operational integrity.

Combining these skills and knowledge will ensure a floor hand is not only effective in their role but also a valuable asset to their team in maintaining high safety standards and operational success.

How Much Does a Floor Hand Make?

Considering a career as a floor hand often leads to questions about potential earnings. Indeed, compensation is a crucial factor for anyone looking into a new job. In this section, we will explore the salary expectations for a floor hand, including the factors that can influence these earnings.

On average, a floor hand in the oil and gas industry earns a base salary of approximately $37,000 to $47,000 per year in the United States. These figures can significantly fluctuate based on geographical location, the experience level of the floor hand, and the operating company's size and budget. For instance, floor hands working in major oil-producing states such as Texas or North Dakota might earn more than their counterparts in states with smaller oil operations.

Beyond the base salary, many companies offer lucrative overtime opportunities given the often demanding work schedules in this sector. When factoring in overtime, bonuses, and any additional perquisites, total compensation can surge significantly, placing some floor hands in a much higher earning bracket. Additionally, experienced floor hands who advance into supervisory roles can see substantial salary increases, sometimes exceeding $60,000 annually.

It's also important to consider that the compensation package for floor hands might include other benefits such as:

  • Health insurance
  • Retirement plans
  • Life and disability insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Job training and career development programs

These benefits not only enhance the direct earnings from the job but also contribute to overall job satisfaction and security. When evaluating the salary of a floor hand, it's vital to look at the total benefits package alongside the basic salary to get a comprehensive view of the potential earnings.

The highly variable nature of the oil and gas industry, influenced by global oil prices and economic conditions, can also impact salaries. During boom periods, increased demand for skilled labor can lead to surges in earnings, while downturns may result in tighter compensation scales and less overtime work.

In summary, while the base compensation for a floor hand role may appear modest compared to some industries, opportunities for overtime and progression can result in competitive total earnings. Moreover, the additional benefits offered can provide further financial security and incentive.

Career Outlook for Floor Hand

The future job prospects for a Floor Hand are intricately tied to the dynamics of the oil and gas industry, where the majority of these positions are found. With the global push towards renewable energy sources, some may assume a decline in traditional energy sectors. However, the reality of energy consumption patterns and the ongoing necessity for fossil fuels in various industries ensure a level of stability and opportunity for those entering this field.

Job Security and Growth: According to industry reports and employment projections, demand for skilled workers in the oil and gas drilling sectors remains robust, driven by technological advancements and exploration activities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide specific data for Floor Hands but notes that jobs in the oil and gas extraction industry are expected to become more efficient yet may face moderate growth challenges due to fluctuating oil prices and political factors.

  • Technological Advances: The advent of technology such as automation and enhanced drilling techniques means that although fewer Floor Hands may be needed per rig, those who are skilled in the latest technologies may find increased opportunities.
  • Geographic Factors: Regions rich in oil and gas resources, like Texas, North Dakota, and Alberta in Canada, typically offer more opportunities for Floor Hands. The presence of active rigs in these areas is a good indicator of job availability.
  • Contract and Permanent Roles: Many Floor Hands start on temporary contracts which can turn into permanent positions. This is often dependent on economic conditions and the performance of individual workers.

Additionally, the ongoing need for maintenance, decommissioning old sites, and drilling new ones secures a level of demand for Floor Hands. The energy sector is notably susceptible to economic cycles, so potential job seekers should remain informed on industry trends and diversify their skill sets to adapt to shifting demands.

Exploring adjacent career paths is also a viable option. Many Floor Hands move into roles with more responsibility over time, such as Derrickman or even Drill Operator positions, which offer higher pay and better benefits. Continuous professional development and obtaining additional certifications can enhance one’s prospects significantly.

In summary, while the industry may face its set of challenges, skilled Floor Hands who keep abreast with industry trends and technological advances have good prospects for both job security and growth.

Finding Jobs as a Floor Hand

Finding a job as a Floor Hand can be a straightforward process if you know where to look and how to prepare. Here are steps and tips to assist you in landing a position in this dynamic field.

Understand the Industry

To begin with, it’s essential to have a good grasp of the oil and gas industry, which is the primary sector employing Floor Hands. Knowing the industry's operational peaks and troughs can help you time your job application to increase your chances of success.

Where to Look for Job Openings

  • Online Job Portals: Websites like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor regularly list openings for Floor Hands. Set up job alerts to stay informed about new opportunities.
  • Company Websites: Many oil and gas companies post vacancies on their official websites. Identify the major players in the industry and regularly check their careers page.
  • Staffing Agencies: Some companies hire through staffing agencies that specialize in oil and gas recruitment. Registering with these agencies can provide you with insights and access to jobs that might not be advertised publicly.
  • Networking: Industry networking is vital. Attend industry seminars, fairs and meet-ups to connect with professionals and learn about unadvertised vacancies.

Resume and Application Tips

When applying for a Floor Hand position, ensure your resume is up-to-date and tailored to highlight relevant experience and skills. Emphasize any previous work in machinery operation, mechanical skills, and physical labor, as these are highly applicable to the role of a Floor Hand.

A cover letter can also help personalize your application. Be sure to mention any safety certifications or specific training you’ve completed that aligns with the demands of being a Floor Hand.

Prepare for the Interview

Once you land an interview, preparation is key. Familiarize yourself with common industry practices, safety protocols, and the specific operations of the company you’re applying to. Demonstrating your knowledge and readiness to work on a rig can greatly improve your chances of employment.

Additionally, since the job of a Floor Hand is physically demanding, displaying your physical fitness and readiness to work long hours in challenging conditions can be a plus.

Continue Professional Development

While looking for a job, continue to upgrade your skills and knowledge. Attending training courses and acquiring new certifications not only enhances your resume but also keeps you engaged and prepared for future opportunities.


With the right approach and preparations, finding a job as a Floor Hand can open doors to a rewarding career in the oil and gas industry. Keep an eye on market trends, focus on continuous learning, and leverage every opportunity to network with industry professionals.


Embarking on a career as a Floor Hand offers rewarding opportunities and challenges, particularly in the oil and gas industry. The position is essential for the safe and efficient operation of drilling sites and presents a practical entry point into the field. Throughout this guide, we have explored the varied aspects of the role, from the day-to-day responsibilities to the skills required, and the potential career progression.

The path to becoming a Floor Hand, while not requiring extensive formal education, does demand a specific set of skills and certifications. These include physical stamina, attention to safety protocols, and team collaboration. Moreover, with the potential for significant financial rewards and the prospect of career advancement into roles such as Derrickhand or Driller, the position holds substantial appeal for those interested in a dynamic work environment.

The employment outlook for Floor Hands appears stable and may even grow, driven by the continuous need for energy and the potential developments in extraction technologies. Therefore, positioning oneself in this field could be both a strategic and fulfilling career move. For those looking to break into the oil and gas industry, or seeking a hands-on job that offers real impact and growth, becoming a Floor Hand is an excellent starting point.

As emphasized, anyone curious about this role should consider not only the requirements and responsibilities discussed but also the lifestyle and the day-to-day challenges one might face. Civic diligence, continuous learning, and resilience are the key factors that will help you succeed and possibly ascend through the ranks in this demanding yet rewarding field.

In closing, those who choose the path of a Floor Hand have a unique opportunity to contribute significantly to one of the world's most vital industries, experiencing firsthand the complexities and rewards that come with drilling operations. Embarking on this career is more than a job; it's a commitment to powering the world, one drill site at a time.


Here are some frequently asked questions about the career of a Floor Hand to help you better understand this role and its requirements:

What exactly does a Floor Hand do?

A Floor Hand is primarily involved in manual labor on oil rigs or in similar settings. They are responsible for the maintenance, setup, and operation of the drilling equipment.

How can I become a Floor Hand?

Becoming a Floor Hand typically does not require formal education, but having a high school diploma or GED is beneficial. Most companies offer on-the-job training. However, physical strength, manual dexterity, and the ability to follow safety protocols are crucial.

Do I need any certifications to work as a Floor Hand?

While not always required, certifications related to safety and machinery operation can enhance your employability and may lead to higher pay or advancement opportunities.

How safe is the job of a Floor Hand?

The job comes with risks as it involves heavy machinery and challenging work environments. Compliance with safety protocols and regulations is critical to minimize risks. Companies generally invest heavily in safety training and equipment.

What is the average salary for a Floor Hand?

Salaries vary depending on location, company, and level of experience. In the United States, the annual salary typically ranges from $30,000 to $50,000.

What are the career advancement opportunities for a Floor Hand?

With experience and further training, a Floor Hand can progress to supervisory roles such as a Driller or Rig Manager. Additional certifications and education also facilitate career advancement.

Where are Floor Hand jobs mostly available?

Jobs are predominantly available in regions with active oil and gas industries, such as Texas, North Dakota, and offshore locations around the world.

Is there a demand for Floor Hands?

The demand for Floor Hands correlates with the global oil and gas industry's performance. During periods of high energy demand, job opportunities increase accordingly.

If you have other questions about becoming a Floor Hand or the nature of the work, consider reaching out directly to professionals in the field or visiting job fairs to gain more insights.

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