This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in the construction of oil and gas lines, mains, refineries, and storage tanks. The work performed may include new work, reconstruction, rehabilitation, and repairs. Specialty trade contractors are included in this industry if they are engaged in activities primarily related to oil and gas pipeline and related structures construction. All structures (including buildings) that are integral parts of oil and gas networks (e.g., storage tanks, pumping stations, and refineries) are included in this industry.

Illustrative Examples

  • Distribution line, gas and oil, construction
  • Oil refinery construction
  • Gas main construction
  • Petrochemical plant construction
  • Gathering line, gas and oil field, construction
  • Natural gas pipeline construction
  • Pumping station, gas and oil transmission, construction
  • Storage tank, natural gas or oil, tank farm or field, construction
  • Natural gas processing plant construction

Career Snapshot

Oil and Gas Workers basically set up and operate a variety of drills to remove underground oil and gas, or remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.

(Similar work titles include:  Rotary Drill Operator, Daylight Driller, Drill Foreman, Drill Operator, Driller, Drilling Rig Operator, Motor Man, Oil Rig Driller, Oil Well Driller, Relief Driller, Tool Pusher)

Oil and gas workers may find a career in other areas of this construction job sub-sector such as:

Roustabouts, Oil and Gas - Assemble or repair oil field equipment using hand and power tools. Perform other tasks as needed.

(Similar work titles include:  Floor Hand, Galley Hand, Oil Field Roustabout, Production Roustabout, Rig Hand, Roustabout, Roustabout Crew Leader, Roustabout Crew Pusher, Roustabout Hand, Roustabout Pusher)

Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas - Rig derrick equipment and operate pumps to circulate mud through drill hole.

(Similar work titles include:  Derrick Hand, Derrick Man, Derrick Operator, Derrick Worker, Floor Hand)

Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas, and Mining - Operate equipment to increase oil flow from producing wells or to remove stuck pipe, casing, tools, or other obstructions from drilling wells. May also perform similar services in mining exploration operations. Includes fishing-tool technicians.

(Similar work titles include:  Operator, Pulling Unit Operator, Reverse Unit Operator-Fisherman, Rig Operator, Service Operator, Service Rig Operator, Tool Pusher, Well Servicing Rig Operator, Wireline Operator)

Job Details

Generally, a worker in the Oil and Gas sub-sector may do the following:

  • Train crews, and introduce procedures to make drill work safer and more effective
  • Observe pressure gauge and move throttles and levers to control the speed of rotary tables, and to regulate pressure of tools at bottoms of boreholes
  • Count sections of drill rod to determine depths of boreholes
  • Push levers and brake pedals to control gasoline, diesel, electric, or steam draw works that lower and raise drill pipes and casings in and out of wells
  • Connect sections of drill pipe, using hand tools and powered wrenches and tongs
  • Maintain records of footage drilled, location and nature of strata penetrated, materials and tools used, services rendered, and time required
  • Maintain and adjust machinery to ensure proper performance
  • Start and examine operation of slush pumps to ensure circulation and consistency of drilling fluid or mud in well
  • Operate controls that raise derricks or level rigs
  • Prepare reports of services rendered, tools used, or time required, for billing purposes
  • Inspect derricks, or order their inspection, prior to being raised or lowered
  • Inspect derricks for flaws, and clean and oil derricks to maintain proper working conditions
  • Control the viscosity and weight of the drilling fluid

Education and Experience

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to enter the occupation.  Workers in this constructor sub-sector need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

Career Outlook

  • Annual pay: Oil and gas workers typically earn an average salary typically between $36,000 and $43,000
  • Employment growth forecast 2016-2026: this job sub-sector is expected to grow faster than average
  • Entry-level education: Can have less than a high school diploma to enter the field

Career Growth Opportunity

After completing an apprenticeship and becoming licensed at the journey level, workers in the oil and gas construction sub-sector may advance to become a supervisor or project manager.

Professional Associations

  • International Association of Drilling Contractors - IADC is recognized worldwide for their accreditation programs, publications, conferences, and advocacy work. This organization works to gain global recognition for the industry’s vital role in enabling the global economy and its high standards of safety, environmental stewardship and operational efficiency.
  • United Steelworkers - The United Steelworkers is North America’s largest industrial union. They are 1.2 million members and retirees strong in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.  They advocate for ‘better workplaces, better lives for everyone and a better world’.
  • The Associated General Contractors of America - The AGC of America works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry; providing opportunities for firms to learn about ways to become more accomplished; and connecting them with the resources and individuals they need to be successful businesses and corporate citizens.
  • American Pipeline Contractors Association - Serving as a national association of merit shop pipeline and station contractors, APCA was founded in 1971 as a regional alliance to promote the mutual interests and address industry concerns of its members and associates.
  • Independent Petroleum Association of America - IPAA represents the thousands of independent oil and natural gas producers and service companies across the United States.
  • International Petroleum Industry Environmental and Conservation Association – IPIECA is a non-profit association that provides a forum for encouraging continuous improvement in industry performance. IPIECA is the only global association involving both the upstream and downstream oil and gas industry.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. - ABC's mission is the advancement of the merit shop construction philosophy, which encourages open competition and a free enterprise approach that awards contracts based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America - This organization serves its members by providing high-quality educational materials and programs to help them attain the highest level of managerial and technical expertise.
  • Petroleum Equipment and Services Association - PESA is the national trade association for the oilfield services and equipment sector, representing more than 500,000 jobs in the technology-driven energy value chain.
  • American Gas Association - AGA represents companies delivering natural gas safely, reliably, and in an environmentally responsible way to help improve the quality of life for their customers every day.
  • Sisters in the Brotherhood - Sisters in the Brotherhood is a group dedicated to strengthening the UBC by promoting activism and diversity and by increasing the number of women members.
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research - NCCER is a non-profit education foundation.  It was developed with the support of more than 125 construction CEOs and various association and academic leaders who united to revolutionize training for the construction industry. Sharing the common goal of developing a safe and productive workforce, these companies created a standardized training and credentialing program for the industry.


  • Drilling Contractor Magazine - official publication of IADC
  • Americal Oil & Gas Reporter - The American Oil & Gas Reporter is an independent industrial trade publication that also serves as the Official Publication for America's independent oil and gas producers and operators.
  • Constructor - online digital magazine
  • DigDifferent Magazine - online digital magazine, training, subscribe to print magazine, newsletter, current and archive issues (drilling, excavation, trenching...)
  • IPPA Access Magazine - official publication of IPPA, current and archive issues available
  • Oilman Magazine - A source for O&G industry technology updates and shale news. Become a subscriber to view current and archive issues.


Many oil and gas workers can enter this career sub-sector with a high school diploma.  No formal educational credential or work experience is necessarily needed.  One to 12-months on-the-job training is typical.