Well Drill Operator

Set up and operate portable drilling rigs to drill wells.
picture of Well Drill Operator

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$27,000 – $62,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Well Drill Operators do?

Sets up and operates portable drilling rig to drill wells: Extends stabilizing jackscrews to support and level drill rig. Moves levers to control power-driven winch that raises and extends telescoping derrick. Bolts trusses to derrick and machine frame. Assembles drilling tools, using handtools or power tools. Moves levers and pedals to raise and lower drill tools and well casing into well bore. Moves levers and pedals and turns handwheels to control action of machine that drills or punches well bore and lowers casing into well. Pours water into well or pumps water or slush into well to cool drill bit and remove drillings. Listens to sounds of drilling machine and feels cable or brake to determine changes in rock formations being penetrated or variations in drilling process. Moves levers to adjust stroke and impact of cable tool drilling machine or changes drill bits of rotary drilling machine according to nature of strata encountered. Replaces drill bit with tool to collect samples of earth or rock being penetrated. Inspects core samples to determine nature of strata encountered or takes samples to laboratory for analysis. Records drilling progress and geological data. Splices worn or broken cable. Fabricates well casings and builds up worn drill bits, using oxyacetylene cutting and welding equipment. Retrieves lost equipment from bore holes, using fishing tools and equipment. May repair drill bits, using forging furnace, hammer, and anvil. May be designated according to type drilling rig operated as Well-Drill Operator, Cable Tool; Well-Drill Operator, Rotary Drill. May operate well-drilling rig to restore irrigation, industrial, and domestic water wells to active production and be designated Well-Reactivator Operator.


Should I be a Well Drill Operator?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Helpful: You always keep an eye out for what other people need.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.

  • Also known as: Auger Operator, Deep Well Contractor, Drill Hand, Electric Drill Operator, Highwall Drill Operator See More

    How to become a Well Drill Operator

    Most Well Drill Operators have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9rdaaa&chl=no+college+%2874%25%29|certificate+%2821%25%29|associate%27s+%284%25%29|||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,74,74
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