Offshore jobs on oil platforms pay well, often up to two times the salary of an equivalent job in the manufacturing and construction sectors. These high salaries earned by workers without college degrees for doing physical work. An entry level rostabout could take home upwards of $ 45,000 every year for doing 6 to 8 months of work a year. A Geology Major with a specialty in oil exploration could easily take home double or triple that, fresh out of school.
Of course, these salies are fair compensation for the dangers and privations faced by those doing offshore oil rig jobs. After all the hue and cry over the recent Deepwater Horizon accident (with 11 dead), there were only two other major offshore oil rig accidents in the 2000-s – the Mumbai High North in 2005 with 22 dead, and the Usumacinta in 2007, also with 22 dead. These are smaller small numbers, considering that over 400,000 Americans die of tobacco-use every year (according to the American Cancer Society).
But if workers in oil gas jobs offshore are not being paid for facing the danger of fatal accidents, why the sky-high salaries then? It is mainly the combination of two reasons – the large amount of profits being made by oil companies, and the lack of experienced workers willing to stay on. The simple fact is that there is a high rate of attrition along front line workers in the offshore oil drilling industry. Many offshore oil workers can not end the physical hardships they face – the 12-hour shifts of hard physical work in a dangerous environment, the need to do this work non-stop for two to three weeks without a break (there are no weekends on board an oil rig and operations run 24×7), and having to work night-shifts. Although accommodations are provided for free and fairly comfortable, many are also unable to deal with the noise which goes on day and night.
Getting back to the high salaries of drilling jobs, at one point of time, these workers receive additional tax relief, ie under certain circumstances, eg when the oil rig is in international waters, an oil rig worker who does not need to pay any income tax. Not only that, he may also be able to claim relief for his transportation costs, for example driving to and from the heliport for work, as well as driving to and from training. It is even possible to claim for personally-bought work gear like steel toe boots and slicker suits. On top of these, he may also be able to claim relief from state taxes, eg when he is paying taxes for both his state of residence and his state of work. Obviously, it is necessary to consult a proper accountant or tax lawyer for advice.
Of course, jobseekers who have visited Shell's website or BP's website to look for offshore vacancies may be wondering how they can find this kind of work. After all, the only jobs advertised on the websites of these large oil companies are for high level management positions like Regional Account Manager, etc. Unfortunately, the way modern oil drilling works is that the large oil companies outsource the operation of their oil rigs to large oil service contractors like Transocean and Halliburton, and then these intermediate level companies further outsource the real work and hiring of front line workers to much smaller firms. These outsourced workers may or may not be placed under the headcount of the parent contractor, depending on circumstances. For example, they may count these outsourced workers when laying off staff to boost their stock prices, but not when they are expanding their operations.
Given these facts, the best way to conduct an offshore job search is by finding and shooting off job applications to the small oil drilling service companies and recruiters. They will not always have an opening, and rarely have a proper database to track job applications. Once such a company is found, put its details in an Excel spreadsheet and send off the resume. Repeat for each company every three to six months until an offshore job is found. Note that this is also how mass resume submissions services work.