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January 31st, 2011

Who Wants to Be a Roustabout?

A new career survey places oil rig jobs, and specifically roustabouts, at the bottom of the pile of most preferred careers. According to careercast.com, roustabouts held the worst jobs of 2010.

For a maritime lawyer, it’s not hard to understand why these jobs are so poorly regarded. For starters, roustabouts work long 12-hour shifts. They’re constantly exposed to the elements, including scorching heat, rough winds and choppy seas. The work is high on stress and low on pay. Work on an oil rig involves working in a high-pressure environment.  These workers spend long months working away from loved ones. Besides, an injured roustabout can quickly find that his chances of continuing in the same job or being promoted to another position on an oil rig decimate after he suffers a serious injury on the rig.

And we haven’t even touched on the real hazards of the occupation yet. Oil rigs are generally considered to be some of the deadliest work places in America. For all the hazards, dangers, and stresses of these jobs, roustabouts are not even the better paid workers in the industry. A typical roustabout’s salary is just a little above $32,000 a year.

The survey was conducted before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in April. It’s fair to assume that these jobs have become even more undesirable since the tragic explosion that killed 11 crew members.

Keeping company with roustabouts on the worst jobs list are lumberjacks, ironworkers, taxi drivers, welders, painters, emergency medical technicians, roofers, construction workers and meter readers. It’s not so surprising to find roofers and construction workers on this list, considering that the construction industry is also one of the deadliest workplaces in the country.

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