It takes skill to drill: what makes a great roughneck?

Trinidad Drilling it takes skill to drill

Do you remember your first day on the rigs? All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to make some cash? As most first days go, we’re willing to bet the work wasn’t 100% what you expected. Although many of you continued your careers in the oil patch, we all know someone that decided rigging just wasn’t for them.

This had us thinking… what does it take to make it on the rigs? So, we decided to ask the experts! Common sense, safety-focus and desire to learn were all common answers. Here’s what else you had to say.

We asked:

What skills do you think are most important for a roughneck to have in the field?

You answered:

In my opinion, mental and cognitive abilities are the most important. Roughnecks must be able to handle a highly stressful job that is physically draining. After twelve hour shifts on remote locations, one’s mental capacity will no doubt be tested daily.     – Walter Whitfield, LinkedIn

They must be safety minded, focused, able to take direction, know BOP and emergency procedures and must be hardworking. – Scott Huseby, LinkedIn

They must have a desire to learn. – George Morgan, LinkedIn


The ability to apply knowledge. Most of all, never falling into the trap of knowing too much and becoming complacent.   – Mark H. Olive, LinkedIn

It requires a special breed of person to be a great roughneck. Intelligence, durability, toughness and clarity. The best crews I have seen usually consist of family members on the same crew. They really looked out for each other, but also drove each other to become great at their jobs. – Joseph Taylor, LinkedIn

Stamina and a superior attitude! – Bruce Black, LinkedIn

They must love their job! If you love working on the rigs, the rest of the skills to perform safely and efficiently will be learned. – Matt Steen, LinkedIn

Common sense! – Chris Volk, Brian Cunningham, Ernie Ruiz, Tony Mason, Roel Vela, Scott Brazell, LinkedIn

Roughnecks, most importantly, require a sense of safety and a good work attitude.     – Bobbie Foreman, LinkedIn

Situational awareness. – Matthew B., LinkedIn

A good attitude and willingness to learn. – Kurtis Caouette, LinkedIn

Trinidad Drilling crew

Communication skills; the ability to work in a team environment; leadership and problem solving skills; and the ability to think outside the box!               – Cameron Russell, LinkedIn

Mechanical aptitude. – Donald Miller, LinkedIn

The strength and ability to do repetitive work while paying attention to what’s happening around them. – Jim Finnie, LinkedIn

It takes heart! – Alvaro Navarrtte, LinkedIn

In my opinion, roughnecks are the bravest individuals out there. Not everyone can handle what they do and do it safely… and consistently! – Earl J. LeBlanc, LinkedIn

The ability to think ahead. What’s coming next? Old school – does the spinning chain need a new tail? Stringing up – do you have tar to hold the soft line that’s attached to the drill line by a snake in the sheave? Do you have the right size hammer wrenches to nipple up? Got pipe dope? Got liners and swabs for your mud pumps? Shaker screens and mud scales… where’s the tong jaws that fit that casing? Tied to the tong’s counterweight bucket? Get ‘em down… latch ‘em, pull ‘em, pull ‘em, pull ‘em!                 – Ricky McKinney, LinkedIn

Drilling rig skills are most important. But, an ability to work with different people on a daily basis and get along with people who have a different attitude than you… I would consider that very important! – Kenneth Delcambre, LinkedIn

Most of all, presence of mind and a cool head! – Godwin Godfrey D’Souza, LinkedIn

If you’re new to the industry and curious to know what a day in the life of a rig worker would be like, we’ve got you covered:

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