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Summary of occupation

Drillers supervise the drilling of holes in the earth for oil, water and natural gas, mineral exploration, building foundations and site investigation. They oversee the transport, installation, maintenance and operation of drilling rigs, collect drilling core samples, undertake development and pumping tests and operate pumping equipment, and clean the areas around their wake. Drillers also make decisions about which section of a drilling operation will work at which times, and supervise teams of assistants who help to carry out the tasks undertaken in each section of an operation.

ANZSCO description: Assembles, positions and operates a drilling rig and related equipment to extract ore, liquids or gases from the earth. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names: Drilling Plant Operator
Specialisations: Development Driller, Directional Driller, Exploration Driller, Jumbo Operator, Power Tong Operator, Raise Drill Operator, Rig Manager, Rock Drill Operator, Stope Miner, Tool Pusher
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A driller needs:

  • good health and to be physically fit
  • to be able to work as part of a team
  • the ability to handle machinery
  • no police record and to be willing to undergo a drug and alcohol clearance check
  • to be at least 18 years of age.
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Working conditions

Drillers work on drilling rigs with large mechanical machinery. They work outside or underground in most weather conditions and their work may be hot, noisy or dirty, as well as potentially hazardous. They may work long hours on a roster system, which may include long periods of time away from home.

Drillers may work anywhere around the State, on large-scale construction projects and oil/gas/mining operations.

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Salary details

On average, drillers, miners and shotfirers can expect to earn between $1 599 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the company they work for and their level of experience. As a driller develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.​ 

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Tools and technologies

Drillers need to be familiar with the parts and operation of small portable and large-scale drills, as well as the pipes, cables and coil tubing used in conjunction with these. They may work with mechanical, electric, hydraulic or pneumatic drills.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a driller you usually need to complete a drilling operations or driller traineeship. These traineeships take 12 to 24 months to complete. 

You can also improve your employment prospects if you complete a Certificate II in Drilling Operations, offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.​

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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