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What is Life Like on an Offshore Oil Rig?

Career Resources, Oil & Gas
Posted on: 17/11/2017
Offshore Oil Rig in the North Sea

It’s hard to imagine what living and working in the middle of the sea on a windowless rig is like, but for many it’s an attractive prospect. Around 26,000 people are employed to work on UK offshore oil and gas rigs, mostly based off the east coast of England and Scotland. A skills shortage and an ageing workforce mean it’s a good industry to join for school leavers and graduates, but what is life like on a rig? 

Getting There

Before setting off for the rig, offshore survival and emergency training is given, often a three day course, preparing for the dangerous conditions ahead. A 45-60 minute helicopter ride is the only way onto the rig, flying over the open seas. 

Work Patterns

Rigs are operational 24 hours a day, all year round.  The standard working pattern is two weeks on, two weeks off or for some more high-level positions two weeks on, three weeks off. Shifts are usually 12 hours on, 12 hours off. Although you get two weeks off every month, the hours add up – this working pattern means working around 400 hours more than a 9-5 job over the course of a year. 

Living Conditions

Many rigs have around 200 people living and working onboard, and inside look like a cross between a hotel and an office. Cabins are shared, usually 2-4 to a room, with bathrooms shared by cabins. All cooking and cleaning is done for you, with a canteen providing all meals and snacks. Leisure facilities differ, but modern rigs often have games rooms, gyms and cinemas. 

Contacting Home

Before internet, workers could only call home once a week for 6 minutes! These days most rigs have wifi for Skype, social media and emails on tablets and laptops, although mobile phones are often banned and phone signal is rare. 


If you can handle being away from family and friends, have the right attitude and temperament for sharing living quarters and the skills for the job you’ll be well rewarded. Graduate positions often start around £30,000 and the average wage is £65,000 – more than double the national average. 

Are you interested in a career offshore? Send us your CV and we’ll help you find your perfect position. 

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