Drilling machine operators, also known as drilling operators or drilling contractors, select the drilling method and needed equipment to drill boreholes and/or install well casing, and must be aware of any state and local water well construction codes and permitting requirements. They need to be able to manage equipment and people, and possess good troubleshooting skills. Drilling operators evaluate the drill site for safety hazards, in addition to water production capabilities.
Water well drilling contractors use a variety of methods to locate and extract groundwater supplies, whether for domestic, irrigation, industrial, or environmental use. They must be familiar with a variety of well construction methods including cable tool, rotary, reverse circulation, auger, sonic, and horizontal directional. They set up and run portable drilling rigs and related equipment to bore and service wells.
Advances in equipment and computer technology have increased drilling productivity substantially in the past few years. Advances in directional and horizontal drilling have, and will continue to have, an impact on the drilling industry and the employment opportunities it provides.
Drill crewmembers and operators should have good mechanical aptitude and be able to work confidently with small tools and power tools. Drill operators must like to work outdoors and be able to work year-round in all climate conditions. Educational training is wide-ranging from a high school diploma to a master’s degree; a high school or trade school diploma is usually required for entry-level work on drilling rigs. Good driving skills and a clean driving record are invaluable assets to candidates.
Drilling firm employers can range from small, family-owned companies to large, global, diverse corporations. The workplace can be outdoors, in a shop, and/or an office setting. Earnings depend on geographic location, level and quality of work performed, and years of experience. Fringe benefits can include health and life insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans.