Exploration Drilling operator

How to work in Australian exploration drilling in 2024

If you have a love for hard days, big pay checks and the Australian Outback, you may want to work in exploration drilling. Here is a guide if you are looking to transition or start a career in drilling. If you are new to drilling, watch the video below first.


For further reading, see this page on ADIA :  https://adia.com.au/static/careers/

What are the requirements to work in exploration drilling?


High School Diploma or Equivalent: Most drilling companies require a high school diploma or equivalent as a minimum educational requirement.

There are also VET Training Certificates for drilling. Click the links below to read more about drilling certificates, and where to find a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). 

  • Certificate II In Drilling Operations: RII20920 To become a Driller's Assistant
  • Certificate III In Drilling Operations: RII31820 To become a Driller
  • Certificate IV In Drilling Operations: RII40920 To become a Senior Driller or Supervisor

Code of Practice:




Possession of a clear National Police Clearance (It's advisable to apply for this when beginning your search for FIFO roles due to current processing delays)

  • A valid C-class manual driver's license (an HR license is preferred)
  • Basic Safety Certifications: Certifications such as a General Induction for Construction (White Card) may be required to work on drilling rigs, especially in construction-related drilling operations.
  • Specialized Certifications: Depending on your role on the drilling rig, you may need specialized certifications such as a Well Control Certification (e.g., IWCF or IADC certification) for drilling supervisors or a Confined Space Entry Certification for workers involved in confined space operations.

Additional Short courses can include: 

RIIRIS402E - Carry out the risk management process (G2)

RIIWHS202E - Enter and work in confined spaces

HLTAID011 - Provide first aid

RIIWHS204E - Work safely at heights

Work Experience & Skills

  • A minimum of 4-6 months' experience in a physically demanding role
  • Mechanical Aptitude: A strong mechanical aptitude and the ability to troubleshoot and maintain drilling equipment are valuable skills in this field.
  • Experience: While not always mandatory for entry-level positions, having prior experience in the drilling industry or related fields can enhance your prospects. Experience in construction, mining, or oil and gas operations can be particularly relevant. 
  • Teamwork and Communication Skills: Effective communication and the ability to work as part of a team are essential for safe and efficient rig operations.
  • Physical Fitness: Working on a drilling rig can be physically demanding, requiring manual labor, climbing ladders, and working in various weather conditions. Good physical fitness and stamina are essential.

Many drilling companies offer their own training programs for new recruits. These programs typically cover basic rig operations, safety procedures, equipment usage, and maintenance protocols.

It's important to research the specific requirements of the companies you're interested in working for and to stay up-to-date on industry standards and regulations. Additionally, demonstrating a strong commitment to safety and a willingness to learn and adapt to the demands of the job can make you a more attractive candidate for positions on drilling rigs.

Medical Requirements for drilling

Depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the drilling work, you may need to undergo a medical examination and obtain medical clearance to ensure you are fit to work in physically demanding and potentially hazardous environments. You may also have to passing a drug and alcohol screening test.

Career Progression for exploration drilling in Australia

 The table below shows a typical progression for those working in exploration drilling.

Experience Job Title Certification/Training
0 – 6 months Drillers Offsider 1
6 – 18 months Drillers Offsider 2 Complete Cert II in Drilling
18 – 24 months Trainee Driller Undertake Cert III in Drilling
24 + months Driller Start Cert IV in Drilling
After few years Senior Driller Complete Cert IV in Drilling
After few years Drilling Supervisor

 What does a drilling Offsider do?

Have a look at a day in the life of a drilling offsider, and entry level position in drilling.


What does a Trainee Driller do? 

When an offsider progresses to a trainee driller, they assume more responsibility and learn more about the rig. Watch the below video for more.

Recruitment for exploration drilling jobs

 Using a recruiter is a great way to have someone looking for jobs while you are busy. Here are some recruiters that can help you work in exploration drilling in 2024.







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