How to Get Entry Into Directional Drilling Profession?

14. October, 2013 Career 2 comments


One of the biggest breakthroughs in how we get the fuel for our vehicles and homes is the science of directional drilling of oil and gas wells. The job of a directional driller is one of the most highly compensated positions in the petroleum exploration industry. Directional drilling has helped discover vast new deposits of oil and natural gas throughout the globe. The technology is for the first time in years reversing the decline in domestic oil production. For this reason, the number of jobs in directional drilling of oil wells is increasing.

Directional drillers earn good money, some of the best in the oilfield, for being in charge of drilling an oil well sideways or horizontally. It can be a demanding high pressure job. To be a directional driller one must be very mechanically inclined, have a good amount oilfield experience, be good at mathematics and be willing to travel and spend much as fifty weeks a year away from home when starting out.


The people who most often become highly paid directional drillers have usually arrived at the position by one of two paths. Some have worked their way up the ladder from roughneck and regular oil rig driller and then applied for the job of directional driller with a service company, such as Sperry Sun, that specializes in that type of work. To be hired they must have years of experience drilling oil wells in different types of rock formations, working on different types of rigs, etc., as well as possess excellent math and problem solving skills.
Others who become directional drillers may have spent several years working in the field of MWD-LWD (Measure and Logging While Drilling), which is the electronic technology used to guide directional drillers as they drill oil and gas wells horizontally through rock stratas. Those working in LWD and MWD may have an engineering degree from a university or technical school degree.

Required Educational Background

There are several ways to enter the vast oil and gas field. If you browse through the profiles of different oil field workers, you’ll observe that some are just high school pass outs while some are masters’ degree holder too. There are just few companies which recruit freshers directly as a directional drilling personnel and maximum of those are PSU’s. Most of the reputed companies hire fresh graduates as a MWD operator and after few years (may be about 4 to 5 years) they are provided DD training and shifted to core directional drilling department as a DD.

If you are fresh Engineering Graduate with Electronics, IT, Computer, Petroleum as major, you can directly enter the MWD department and later get promoted to Directional drilling section.

If you are fresh graduate with Petroleum or Mechanical major, you can enter via drilling and then switching to MWD since all MWD service providers do not recruit mechanical engineers for MWD field operation.

Education background preferred for MWD operator position:
Bachelors in Electronics / Electronics & Communication
Bachelors in Computer / IT
Bachelors in Petroleum

If you want to get a job as a directional driller, make sure you take courses in math and science in high school and college. Trigonometry is an essential part of the job and though many of the calculations used to determine how to build or maintain angle in the well can be done on programmable scientific calculators, understanding the “why” behind the math is essential to the job. In addition, most companies require that directional drillers attend a multi – day class and pass a final exam before being promoted any further than trainee.

Job Environment

Your work will either be on a land rig or on an offshore rig. There is no such thing as a typical “work day” for a directional driller. One of the most critical times on the job is when the directional driller is diverting the well from vertical to horizontal. A bad calculation on error in judgment when deciding when and how to build angle can mean the difference between having to abandon days of work, cement the newly drilled section of the well, etc. During these times both the day and night directional drillers may be up for many hours without sleep. During the training phase of the job a trainee may work part of the night with one driller and part of the day with the other full time D.D. Since well trained “hands” are in high demand, they may go straight from one job to the other, with days in between going home. To say that the job can be stressful is an understatement.


Salaries for directional drillers with several years of experience may be well over $200,000 a year but in return they are required to go to jobs anywhere, at anytime the company orders them to do so.


• CAREER IN DIRECTIONAL DRILLING, Directional Drilling Technology Blog.

• How to Get A Job As A Directional Driller In The Oilfield, eHow Contributor

About author

Mostafa Zayed

Mostafa Zayed recieved B. Sc in Petroleum Engineering from Cairo University and is currently Ambassador of YoungPetro in Egypt. His Professional interests focus on Petroleum Engineering technologies and related disciplines.

View all posts by Mostafa Zayed