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DrillerAlternative titles


This job is sometimes referred to as:

Hydrocarbon Driller
Non-Hydrocarbon Driller

Drillers assemble, position, and operate drilling rigs and related equipment to extract ore, liquids, or gases from the earth.

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733

What are the chances of getting a job?


Chances of getting a job as a driller are good due to high turnover of workers creating regular openings.

Employers struggling to find enough drillers

Employers say they struggle to recruit and retain enough staff. This is because drillers often leave the job after only a short time due to the physical nature of the work or to move overseas where they can earn more.

Demand for drillers expected to keep growing

Demand for drillers is likely to rise further due to an increase in oil and gas exploration in Taranaki, the West Coast of the South Island and Southland. For example, Taranaki has about 3,000 oil and gas industry workers, including drillers, but this number may triple by 2026 if the industry expands as predicted.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates that in March 2012 there were around 900 drillers in New Zealand.

Drillers work for many types of employers

A wide range of businesses employ drillers, including:

  • oil, gas, and geothermal exploration companies
  • firms that specialise in drilling water bores or wells
  • mining and quarrying companies.

Drillers may also be employed by construction firms, or specialist companies carrying out tasks such as earthquake monitoring activities.


  • Beardsley, C, 'Report on the National Survey of the New Zealand Petrochemical Industry', Performance Matters, November 2007.
  • Beardsley, C, and Hopkins, N, 'Report on the National Survey of the New Zealand Drilling Industry', Performance Matters, November 2008.
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Producing the Talent', November 2008, (www.dol.govt.nz).
  • Petroleum Skills Association, 'Drilling', website accessed April 2010, (www.petroskills.co.nz).

Current vacancies

Experienced Concrete Cutters & Drillers Listed: 14 Jan 2015 Auckland
2 Roles - Directional Driller & Locator/ Operator Listed: 14 Jan 2015 Waikato
CONCRETE CUTTER AND DRILLER Listed: 12 Jan 2015 Auckland
Directional Drilling/Driller Listed: 21 Jan 2015 Canterbury
Experienced Concrete Cutter & Driller Listed: 15 Jan 2015 Wellington

Other vacancy websites

Progression and specialisations

Drillers may progress to work as supervisors or managers. Some may establish their own drilling businesses.

Drillers may specialise in the following areas:

Hydrocarbon Driller
Hydrcarbon drillers drill for oil or gas both on and offshore.
Non-Hydrocarbon Driller
Non-hydrocarbon drillers drill holes in the ground for reasons other than discovering oil and gas. They might drill into the ground to locate water for a well, or into large rocks so explosives can be used to break them up, or at a construction site to help prepare foundations.

How many people are doing this job?

Year 2012
Year 2011
Year 2010
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.

A driller standing on a platform on a drilling machine in front of the bore sitting in a tub of water

Drillers need to be familiar with a range of equipment to ensure safety and efficiency

Updated 21 Aug 2014