Derrick operators spend a good deal of their time working high up on the so-called “monkey board” platform of a rig’s derrick. In a process called “tripping,” the derrick operator handles the top portion of the drilling pipe string as it is lowered into, or brought up from, the wellbore. This job reports to the driller, and often is a grooming position for driller jobs. Because tripping is not needed at all times, derrick operators have other duties. These may include mixing the drilling fluids, also known as drilling muds, helping to repair equipment, or assisting the driller directly. Considerable safety training is part of this job.
Derrick operators generally earn in the $35,000 to $45,000 range.