How to become a Driller's Assistant

Driller's Assistant

Drillers' assistants help move, set up and operate drilling rigs and related equipment to drill holes for such things as oil, natural gas and water, building foundations, minerals exploration and site investigation.

Personal requirements for a Driller's Assistant

  • reliable and adaptable
  • good organisational skills
  • enjoy working as part of a team
  • able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • enjoy practical and manual activities
  • aptitude for mechanics and machinery
  • willing to work in remote areas under difficult conditions.

Education & Training for a Driller's Assistant

You can work as a driller’s assistant without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. You can also become a driller’s assistant through a traineeship. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10.


Additional information

All those who work in the construction industry must undergo safety induction training and be issued with a Construction Induction Card (CIC). To work as a driller’s assistant, you must be at least 18 years of age, undergo a National Police Check and pass a pre-employment medical examination and drug and alcohol clearance. Many worksites will also require you to have a heavy vehicle drivers licence and a Provide First Aid Certificate.

Duties & Tasks of a Driller's Assistant

Drillers’ assistants:

  • Help move drilling rigs and equipment from site to site, set up in the new site and connect power cables or hoses for water and air supply
  • Help obtain high-quality drilling core samples
  • Assist drillers with all drilling processes
  • Mix and test drilling fluids, chemicals and grout
  • Assist with slotting, welding and inserting casing screens
  • Assist with well development and pumping tests
  • Operate equipment such as pumps for air, water and mud
  • Carry out routine maintenance and repairs
  • Clean and maintain equipment, as well as drill and camp sites.

Tasks

  • Directs assembly and disassembly of pipes, casings and drill headings and controls speed and force of drilling..
  • Attaches and detaches lifting equipment to lower or raise sections of drill pipe into or out of bore hole..
  • Working with an experienced driller sets up rig and drilling equipment..
  • Caps well or regulates valves which control outflow of gas or oil..
  • Controls pumps which circulate mud through drilling equipment..
  • Services pumps..
  • Examines cores and cuttings to ascertain nature of strata..

Working conditions for a Driller's Assistant

Drillers and drillers' assistants usually work long hours on roster systems, either outdoors or underground, as members of teams or crews. The work is often manual and physically demanding. Compliance with all safety systems is essential.


Employment Opportunities for a Driller's Assistant

Drillers’ assistants are employed by drilling contractors, mining companies, oil companies, consultants and farmers. They work at construction sites, mines, and oil and gas exploration and production facilities situated offshore and onshore. Demand for drillers’ assistants varies greatly with commodity prices, general economic conditions and government policies in relation to mining, groundwater regulations and infrastructure projects. Crossover from one sector of the drilling industry to another often occurs when a sector is quiet. Many drilling contractors operate in several sectors. Opportunities exist for those with sound practical experience to move into management or supervisory roles.


Specializations

The major sectors in the drilling industry are:

  • Blasthole drilling to place explosives for the removal of rock and ore in quarries and mines, as well as the construction of roadworks, dam sites and other capital works.
  • Mineral exploration and investigation drilling for suspected or known mineral deposits (this is carried out both in Australia and by Australian companies overseas).
  • Oil and gas drilling (this is carried out offshore and onshore by contract companies that are mainly employed by oil companies).
  • Site investigation/geotechnical drilling to determine the characteristics of soil and rock on construction sites.
  • Foundation/construction drilling on construction sites, usually in towns and cities, as a part of the building or construction process.
  • Water well drilling for stock and domestic or commercial bores (this is mainly carried out by private contractors based in rural areas).

Driller

A driller runs a team of drillers' assistants performing the above tasks. Drillers may specialise in diamond core drilling, rotary/percussion drilling, coal seam drilling or water well drilling.

  • Average age
    Average age
    31 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Moderate
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    2% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    71 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,683
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Entry level
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Average unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    93% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    1,700 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 0.0%
    NSW: 10.7%
    NT: 1.2%
    QLD: 27.0%
    SA: 5.8%
    TAS: 1.4%
    VIC: 6.0%
    WA: 47.8%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 1.9%
    20-24: 16.5%
    25-34: 47.6%
    35-44: 22.2%
    45-54: 8.9%
    55-59: 2.2%
    60-64: 0.6%
    65 and Over: 0.2%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 3.1%
    Bachelor degree: 2.3%
    Certificate III/IV: 48.6%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 0%
    Year 10 and below: 16.7%
    Year 11: 8%
    Year 12: 21.2%
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