- Jessica Alexander
If you’ve been considering an opportunity in the drilling industry, you might be wondering what it takes to be successful and grow a career. Although there are many opportunities for career progression, what traits do you need now to make a solid start and help you achieve those longer-term goals?
We’ve found the most successful drillers in the industry have nine attributes in common, which I’ll cover in this blog post. Many of these can be developed over time—and others you may already possess. You might be more suited for a drilling career than you think!
If you’re serious about launching a career in drilling and want to go deeper than what I can cover here, join me for next week’s webinar, How to Get Started in a Drilling Career. I’ll be joined by Operations Manager Don Bond and Senior Vice President of Drilling Steven Johnson, and we’ll discuss what a typical day is like for the average driller, the skills they need to be successful, and what a career path can look like after you accept your first role. There will also be a Q&A, so be sure to submit your questions so we can answer them in real-time!
Flexibility and adaptability go hand-in hand—you can't really have one without the other. Projects in this industry change, oftentimes with little to no advance notice. Being able to quickly adjust—whether it’s a modification in project scope, new equipment that is required, or switching out personnel on a site—is important.
If you like predictability and structure, this career may be very challenging. On the flip side, if you thrive on change and are able to adapt quickly, you’ll find yourself becoming a valued member of your crew and organization.
Because of the potential hazards and safety issues on a drill site, drillers must communicate clearly and frequently with their crew members, other contractors working on the project, and possibly the client. Your communication also needs to adapt—how you communicate with an experienced driller might vary from how you’d communicate with an employee-in-training.
A successful driller also knows how to communicate effectively with clients when needed. When a change on a project site occurs, you’ll need to be able to discuss how it impacts the project in terms of cost and completion date changes. If a process change is occurring, perhaps with different equipment or personnel, drillers must be able to outline the new process effectively so the team can continue to be productive.
Always want to learn more and figure out new things? That’s actually a really important trait of a successful driller. In this industry, you must be willing to learn from your mistakes and learn from others. Projects don’t always go off without a hitch, and that’s okay. Your ability to turn a challenge into a learning opportunity will keep you growing your skillset.
What do people mean when they say they have a strong work ethic? In the drilling industry, it means a person has drive and determination to hit project goals, even if it means troubleshooting along the way. It also indicates a sense of integrity, and commitment to always doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
Taking shortcuts in drilling procedures can result in safety issues or poor project outcomes later down the line for the client. Drillers who make the cut long-term are those who can come up with smart solutions, work hard to implement them, and are dedicated to making sure everything is done safely and to project specifications.
To be successful in this industry, you must have a passion for what you do. Otherwise, it’s just a job—and a hard one at that.
Is there something that excites you about working in drilling? Maybe it’s the opportunity to work outdoors instead of behind a desk, or perhaps it’s the possibility of working with really cool heavy machinery.
Before you commit to drilling, make sure you have a passion for this industry and the work involved. Otherwise, it’s unlikely to ever become a fulfilling and rewarding career.
Being mechanically inclined doesn’t just mean knowing how to operate machinery (otherwise anyone with a driver’s license would be able to do it). It also doesn’t mean that you have experience doing it—many mechanically inclined people haven’t ever had the opportunity.
The key is having the ability (and desire) to determine how something works. If you were the type of kid who pulled apart the family vacuum cleaner because you wanted to know why and how it suctioned up dirt from the carpet, you likely have a true mechanical inclination. The foundation of this is curiosity, and it’s a key skill for a successful driller.
Safety is critical in this industry. We work in environments that present different physical and mental challenges, and a driller’s ability to adapt to those environments while keeping safety top of mind is crucial. Having a safety mindset is all about protecting yourself and the people around you (i.e., the crew on a project).
What does this look like in action? It’s more than just following rules and regulations—it’s being proactive in identifying hazards and things you can do to make the environment safer for everyone. If you often find yourself cleaning up spills at work that could cause someone to slip, or tidying up trip hazards at home so your roommates or kids don’t faceplant, you’re already displaying this important trait.
The success of drilling projects depends on the crew’s ability to work together effectively. Individuals who can bring people together and help them reach high levels of productivity are critical, and well positioned to be given more responsibility and be promoted into drilling leadership.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea about whether or not you’re wired to enjoy a career in drilling. If you feel like it’s a good fit, the next step is to learn how to become one—which you can do by joining me for next week’s webinar, How to Get Started in a Drilling Career.
Jessica Alexander, SHRM-SCP
DIRECTOR OF TALENT ACQUISITION
Jessica Alexander is the Director of Talent Acquisition for Cascade Environmental. She holds a B.S. in Human Resource Management, B.S. in Business Administration, MBA, and Doctorate of Philosophy (ABD) in Human Resource Management. After completing ten years of military service in the United States Air Force in the Logistics and Transportation Management field, Jessica launched a distinguished career specializing in recruiting and talent development. She is passionate about the development of people and their ability to drive companies forward.