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How do I get an offshore oil job without any offshore experience?

Question: How do I get an offshore oil job without any offshore experience? No offshore company seems to want to take on anybody without experience but then how am I supposed to gain experience!

There are many ways to get into an offshore oil job. Contacts do matter for an offshore oil rig job. If you can reach out to any or all your friends and relatives to find someone who is currently working or recently worked in the offshore industry will give you your first break into an offshore oil rig job.

I tried, I don’t know anyone in the industry, what can I do now?

Getting offshore drilling job without experience

Getting offshore drilling job without experience – Image Courtesy: Flickr


One approach is to focus on an entry level job which doesn’t require any experience. This can work in some cases. But it can be hard because there are so many people trying to get into this lucrative job.

Here is a clever guerrilla approach:

If you are willing to try a very successful guerrilla approach, here is what you can do. Get the first Bus/Train or Plane to your booming offshore oil town. In US, this would be Houston or Louisiana, in UK it will be Aberdeen. If you are in India, this would be Mumbai or Bombay. Make sure you have some money to survive for a couple of weeks. But remember, the more money you have the less desperate you will be and which is not really good for you.

Now, find a company that offer services to the offshore oil industry. A clever approach is to look at contracting companies who provide different types of services to offshore rigs. For example catering companies provide several services to offshore rigs. These jobs don’t require one to have offshore experience. But these jobs that are at the bottom of the food chain and often will be for a short duration without all the perks associated with an offshore job. But this will help you to put your foot at the door.

Everyone (either onshore or offshore) has to eat, right? If there is a human, anywhere in the world, even if it is in the outer space they need to eat. So if you are looking for an entry-level job at an offshore rig without any offshore experience, this is a very good path which many people have used successfully. The catering company will be your launch pad for your offshore career.

Hey, I want to work in an offshore rig as a Rigger. I have been to Aberdeen to do all of the relevant courses. I have all of the certificates and medicals. So why would I work for a catering company – I think that is degrading.

Yes, that is a legitimate question. So, you are asking why you work for a catering company when you already have technical experience onshore. But remember when you apply for an offshore job the first question your recruiter will be asking is if you have any offshore experience. You can say that you are a fast learner or you can pick up skills quickly, still in their eyes you are a novice as far as offshore experience is concerned.

Once you work for a catering company as a cook or a cook’s assistant or as a galley hand, or even as a dishwasher as soon as you’re able to get into an offshore rig you start accumulating your real experience in the rig. Now you are familiar with what is going on in an offshore oil rig. You are now aware of the day by day operations. You will also know the crew change procedure as well as what to do in an emergency. In addition you will also learn the common terminology as well as will be able speak like and offshore oil rig crew.

Contacts do matter, baby:

Most importantly, once you are in an offshore oil rig you can develop valuable contacts which will be very useful for the next stage of your operation. Sometimes your catering assignments may last only for a couple of weeks. And your next assignment may be in another rig after several weeks. This again is fine because you’d be able to develop new contacts in a new rig. While you are in the rig, always offer to help others. Be a willing helper to anyone who needs assistance. Feel free to share your desire to be part of the technical crew. And also share your onshore technical experience to whomever you are able to speak to.

Will the opportunity open up by itself?

Yes, it is possible. Several times, the rig can be short-staffed due to unplanned departure of existing crew due to emergencies, unplanned vacations and illness or due to millions of other reasons. In these occasions if you are on the rig with the needed onshore experience, the tool pusher may hire you right away. This may be the luckiest situation. But even if you are not available on the rig, still the crew members whom you already developed contacts with, will definitely remember your availability and will reach out to you. And your right attitude to be a friendly helper to anyone who needed help will in turn; will help you a lot in these situations.

If you keep on doing the above approach the right way, I can assure you that in 3 to 6 months’ time you will be able to land in an offshore oil rig job that matches your technical skills.

Wish you the best in your soon to come first offshore assignment.