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What does a Roustabout do?

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom


Roustabouts are entry-level laborers that work in extreme conditions. They are the least-ranked type of worker because they are new to the offshore industry and will gain the experience to hopefully transition to a larger role. They are maintenance workers of the natural gas and oil industry and they are responsible for ensuring that oil wells are running efficiently and constantly.

While roustabouts have many important responsibilities, they have one of the most dangerous and challenging jobs. According to Career Cast, roustabouts were labeled as the worst jobs for several years in a row based on their work environment, physical demands, outlook, income, and stress. Even though roustabouts work very hard, they are typically proud of their work because it is so demanding.

Work Environment

Roustabouts work outside throughout the year in varying and sometimes unsafe work environments. Working by the water comes with dangers that are unparalleled. Roustabouts are expected to work in harsh conditions that vary throughout the year. They work outdoors and on the water making their jobs even more difficult. They have to be able to safely complete their tasks regardless of the weather, contributing to the risky nature of their positions.

Physical Demands

The physical demands of working as a roustabout are extreme because they are required to perform labor and maintenance on oil rigs and pipelines both on and offshore. They have to be able to move and react quickly, fit in small spaces, and carry heavy equipment. As a part of their jobs, they oversee the basic maintenance of equipment, both large and small. They use many tools, including air and electric hoists, oxygen sensors, deck grinders, safety harnesses and a wide range of hand-held tools.They have to be prepared to do a variety of tasks that range in difficulty at the drop of a hat and perform it well.


Overall, the job outlook for an oil or gas roustabout is positive. There are typically opportunities to become a roustabout, especially because there is little prior experience required.


As roustabouts are entry-level workers, their salary reflects their lack of experience. Roustabouts are typically paid $35,000 to $40,000. Since the entry-level positions typically require little if any experience or training, the income of a roustabout is relatively high compared to other jobs with similarly low requirements.


The stress of working as a roustabout can be as extreme as their work environment. They are typically working in harsh outdoor environments offshore or on land. They must be able to manage working all year round, regardless of the weather conditions. This can add to their already stressful jobs.

We are here to help

Working as a roustabout is one of the riskiest jobs in the offshore industry. At VB Attorneys, we have an extensive maritime practice and offshore practice that we have been able to use to fight for our clients. If you have been injured while working as a roustabout, you may deserve compensation. You may have a claim if you were injured because your employer or co-workers were negligent. We respect the hard work that you do and feel that you should be respected by your company. Contact us if you need an experienced offshore attorney.