What Will I Need to Work on a Drilling Rig?

Before starting a career in the oilfield service industry, a drilling rig employee is required to possess a few key requirements:

  • Legally eligible to work in Canada
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Possess a valid driver’s license and reliable vehicle
  • All potential employees must successfully complete a substance abuse screening and rigorous physical test prior to employment.
  • Have the means to support themselves for the first few weeks until they receive their first paycheck (cover costs for hotels, meals, fuel)
  • Possess required work gear or the means to obtain required work gear (see below)
  • Possess mandatory certification including a valid H2S Alive certificate and First Aid certificate (see below)

Required Work Gear

The following is a list of seasonal work gear worn by drilling rig workers. Savanna supplies rig employees with coveralls, hard hat, safety glasses & impact gloves (1 pair).


  • CSA approved steel toed boots
  • Summer weight coveralls (fire retardant with reflective safety striping) (in Canada only)
  • Safety glasses
  • ANSI approved hard hat
  • Impact gloves
  • Rain jacket
  • Duffle bag
  • Rubber Boots- Steel toed CSA approved
  • Under coverall clothing (cotton blends, no polyester, no hoodies)


  • CSA approved winter steel toed boots
  • Winter weight coveralls (fire retardant with reflective safety striping)
  • ANSI approved lined hard hat
  • Impact gloves
  • Bama socks
  • Rain pants
  • Weather proof top and bottom (fire retardant)
  • Warm under coverall clothing (cotton blends, no polyester, no hoodies)
  • Safety glasses
  • Duffle bag

Rig Crew and Schedule

Drilling rig crews are generally made up of six (6) people: Rig Manager, Driller, Derrickhand, Motorhand, Floorhand, and Leasehand. Each crew works 12 hours shifts as the rig operates 24 hours per day, and each position is vital to the operation of the rig.

Throughout a regular work day, entry level positions (Floorhand and Leasehand) can expect to perform the following duties:

  • Cleaning and maintaining the lease (or rig location)
  • Cleaning and maintaining the rig floor
  • Keeping the rig stairs free of debris
  • Cleaning and maintaining the rig and its equipment
  • Assisting in moving the rig to and from locations (“rigging up” and “rigging out”)
  • Following all company safety regulations
  • Cleaning the doghouse (rig office) and tool house
  • Taking mud samples
  • Handling drill pipe (Floorhand)
  • Working on the rig floor (Floorhand)
  • Making and breaking joints of pipe using tongs (Floorhand)
  • Assisting other crew members with their tasks

Work in the oil and gas services industry is seasonal. Because of the weight of rigs and their equipment, and the remote location of wells, these locations are often only accessible when the ground conditions can tolerate heavy loads. Therefore, wells are typically drilled and serviced in the winter when the ground is frozen solid, or in the summer, when the ground has thawed and dried sufficiently. During the spring and fall, when the ground is in a transitional state, it is too soft to move equipment on and easily damaged. For this reason, provincial governments implement “road bans” prohibiting heavy loads from operating in certain areas. During this time, rig work is slower, and many rigs are shut down and their crews sent home. Be prepared to be off for anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks without pay during this time. However, rigs that are shut down are usually in need of maintenance, and there may be opportunities for employees who would like to help in this regard. Employees may be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits during seasonal shutdowns.

Getting to and from the Rig

To work on a drilling rig, you must be able to get to and from all of your work locations.  As drilling often occurs in remote areas, having reliable transportation is considered mandatory for non-camp locations. Drilling rigs commonly operate 24 hours per day, 7 days per week with either three crews working 8 hour shifts or two crews working 12-hour shifts. Most often day crews and night crews will alternate weekly, so each crew has a chance to work during both the day and night. Most crews will work 14 days straight with 7 days off in-between. The typical living situation while working falls into three categories: Non-Camp, Full Camp and Texas Camp.

Non-Camp: When the rig site is near a town, non-camp conditions normally apply. Crews will stay in hotel rooms and receive a per day living allowance for food and accommodation. The living allowance is paid out on your pay cheque based on days worked, therefore you will need to be able to pay for your food and accommodation out of your own pocket.

Full-Camp: When a rig site is in a remote location, crews may stay in a full camp. In a full-camp all food and full accommodation is provided. Once at the camp, the crew travels to and from the rig in the crew truck. Almost all camp work is available in the winter only.

Texas Camp: These camps are typically located nearby the rig location.  Crews are responsible for supplying their own bedding, cooking supplies, groceries and toiletries.  While staying at a texas camp, a daily allowance is provided for food and toiletries.  The living allowance is paid out on your pay cheque based on days worked, therefore you will need to be able to pay for your food and toiletries out of your own pocket.

Pay & Benefits

Savanna employees are paid every two weeks via direct bank deposit.  Savanna’s compensation package includes company group health, dental and disability coverage including paramedical coverage (acupuncturist, chiropractor, massage therapist, naturopath physiotherapist and much more).  Savanna also offers a competitive and rewarding retirement savings plan.

At Savanna, there is an excellent opportunity for quality, hard-working employees to quickly advance their career on a rig.


Once you have completed your orientation, you will immediately receive any other necessary training. This involves Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG), along with an in-depth General Safety Orientation. This training is mandatory and provided by Savanna at no cost to the employee. Job-related, hands on training is conducted in the field through Savanna’s Rig Mentoring Program.

Mandatory Certification

Candidates are required to have the following valid certificates prior to being considered for employment:

H2S Alive

Some well locations have sour gas (Hydrogen Sulfide or H2S) present which is extremely dangerous. All employees are required to possess a valid H2S Alive certificate regardless of whether they are working on a sour gas well. This can be obtained by signing up for and completing a one-day (8 hour) course.

Courses are available at various locations across the province. For more information, contact Energy Safety (formerly Enform) at (780) 955-7770 or visit www.enform.ca or Leduc Safety Service at (780) 955 3300 or visit www.leducsafety.com. The cost of the course is usually between $130 and $150 plus tax, and the certification is valid for three years.

First Aid

While it is not mandatory to have this certification, each service rig crew is required to have two members who are certified in Standard First Aid with CPR level C. Therefore, obtaining a certification beforehand is a great way to improve your chances of being hired.

Savanna’s Commitment

Savanna is committed to providing a safe, productive and respectful work environment.  As such, Savanna has Policies in place to ensure the protection of our employees, contractors, the public and the environment.  All Savanna employees are required to acknowledge and follow the policies at all times.


Savanna Energy Services Corp.
Savanna Group of Companies is a wholly owned subsidiary of Total Energy Services Inc.
Total Energy Services Inc Canada