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Land drilling operative

Drilling engineer, land driller

A land drilling operative is responsible for investigating land before drilling into it, to install structures such as tunnels or wells for gas or oil. As a land drilling operative, you’ll work closely with surveyors, geologists and geoscientists, and monitor the drilling progress, overseeing safety management and ensuring the surrounding environment is protected.

Average salary*




How to become a land drilling operative

There are several routes to becoming a land drilling operative. A common way into this role is through an apprenticeship, or you could apply to an employer directly, for on-the-job training. 

You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions. 

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site. 

College/training provider

You could complete a Level 2 Diploma in Land Drilling Operations (Construction) with a specialist training provider, to become a land drilling operative. 

You’ll need 2-3 GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent.


An apprenticeship with a specialist drilling company is a good way into the industry.

You could complete a land drilling apprenticeship to become a land drilling operative. 

You’ll need 2 GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.


If you have some basic experience, you could apply directly to a specialist drilling company to gain on-site experience as a land drilling operative. You might start out as an assistant to a more experienced land drilling operative and progress as your abilities improve.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a land drilling operative. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a land drilling operative include: 

  • Strong communication skills
  • Good numeracy and IT abilities
  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Team working skills
  • Ability to work under pressure.

What does a land drilling operative do?

As a land drilling operative, you will be responsible for investigating the ground on a variety of different construction sites before drilling holes into it to create gas wells or tunnels.

The role of a land drilling operative involves the following duties: 

  • Surveying sites and analysing data
  • Drawing up drilling programmes
  • Monitoring health and safety
  • Planning ways to reduce environmental impact
  • Grouting and anchoring
  • Sampling mineral deposits, soil or groundwater
  • Installing underground tunnels or wells
  • Being involved in landfill and geothermal projects.

What’s it like to be a land drilling operative?

Lee Allardyce

How much could you earn as a land drilling operative?

The expected salary for a land drilling operative varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained land drilling operatives can earn £17,000 - £25,000
  • Trained land drilling operatives with some experience can earn £25,000 - £35,000
  • Senior land drilling operatives can earn in excess of £35,000*
  • Self-employed land drilling operatives set their own pay rates.

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest land drilling operative vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

As a land drilling operative, you could complete further studies to become a land surveyor, or transfer your skills to a role such as tunnelling operative or geo-technical engineer.

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

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  • Current role Contracts manager During a construction project, the contracts manager overseas the contracts proc...
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  • Current role Self employed contractor As a contractor or subcontractor, you'll be working directly with your clients t...
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  • Current role Setting out engineer Be the main technical advisor on site, overseeing quality control & offering gui...
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