A “rigger” is more of a job category than it is a single job title. According to the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement the legal definition of a rigger is “anyone who attaches or detaches lifting equipment to loads or lifting devices” on fixed offshore platforms. Therefore, there are many job titles under the classification of “riggers.” Riggers live on-site on the offshore platforms for weeks at a time, often working hard physical labor in severe weather conditions for more than 50 hours per week. This is followed by extended periods of leave time onshore.
Compensation and Benefits
Although salaries are put in terms of annual compensation, it is important to note that because riggers have extended leave times, the actual number of weeks spent working on the offshore rig is about 26 weeks. So the annual figures quoted are really for six months of actual work. All meals, accommodations, entertainment, medical services, email, Internet access and telephone service as well as transportation to and from the platform, are provided by the employer at no cost to the employee. Some employers offer 401k plans and pay bonuses for safety records as well as offer extra earnings for waiving time off.
A rigging roustabout trainee is an entry-level general laborer who can advance to senior rigging roustabout, then to assistant offshore crane operator, or lead rigger, and then to main offshore crane operator. All are considered riggers. A maintenance roustabout, the lowest level of rigger, makes about $47,000 per year. According to Riggersjobsoffshore.com, a network for finding offshore rigger jobs, a rigging roustabout trainee can expect to make $50,000 per year. After some experience, the salary can go up into the $60,000 per year range.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not separate offshore riggers from other mining jobs. However, it does compare industries. According to the BLS, the 2010 mean annual wage for roustabouts in the overall mining industry was $34,020 with the top 10 percent making $51,090 and the bottom 10 percent making $21,550. Roustabouts in the oil and gas industry had a mean annual wage of $37,160. It is important to keep in mind that this is an average over the entire sector, not just roustabouts on offshore platforms.
Riggers who work in specialized jobs, such as rigger drillers will start out at about $56,000. Scaffold riggers, who assemble and disassemble scaffolding on the rig, earn about $57,000 annually. Rigger welders make about $62,000 per year. Tool pushers, drill leaders and other supervisory rigger positions earn between $75,000 and $100,000 per year.
Work schedules on platforms outside the United States are generally one month on followed by one month off. Entry-level roustabout rigging jobs on platforms in the Middle East start out at $40,000 per year. Supervisory positions have a salary range between $68,000 to $105,000 per year. Traveling costs to return home on your time off is paid by the employer as well as all meals and living expenses.