Earth Driller  What They Do

Just the Facts


Operates a variety of drills such as rotary, churn, and pneumatic to tap sub-surface water and salt deposits, to remove core samples during mineral exploration or soil testing, and to facilitate the use of explosives in mining or construction. May use explosives.

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Construction pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Regulates air pressure, rotary speed, and downward pressure, according to the type of rock or concrete being drilled.
  • Verifies depths and alignments of boring positions.
  • Monitors drilling operations, checking gauges and listening to equipment to assess drilling conditions and to determine the need to adjust drilling or alter equipment.
  • Starts, stops, and controls drilling speed of machines and insertion of casings into holes.
  • Selects the appropriate drill for the job, using knowledge of rock or soil conditions.
  • Operates controls to stabilize machines and to position and align drills.
  • Selects and attaches drill bits and drill rods, adding more rods as hole depths increase, and changing drill bits as needed.
  • Drills or bores holes in rock for blasting, grouting, anchoring, or building foundations.
  • Operates machines to flush earth cuttings or to blow dust from holes.
  • Drives or guides truck-mounted equipment into position, levels and stabilizes rigs, and extends telescoping derricks.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Whole body vibrations, such as when operating a jackhammer
  • Work at heights above 8 feet more than once a month on structures such as ladders, poles, scaffolding, and catwalks

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overnight travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Auger Operator -- Operates simple power auger drill rigs, or more complex core boring drill rigs, both of which are mounted on heavy mobile equipment such as trucks and trailers, to penetrate, break up, and then transport the drilled material to the earth's surface.
  • Boring Machine Operator -- Sets up and operates boring machines to bore, drill, tap, spot face, groove, mill, or ream metal workpieces according to specifications, tooling instructions, and standard charts, applying knowledge of boring procedures and machining methods.
  • Core Drill Operator -- Sets up and operates drilling equipment to obtain solid core samples of strata for analyzing geological characteristics of ground, nature of ore, or strength of foundation material.
  • Directional Driller -- Assembles, positions and operates a drilling rig and related equipment to extract ore, liquids or gases from the earth.
  • Tunneling Machine Operator -- Sets up and operates boring machine to drill horizontal holes through earth banks for installation of pipelines under highways, railroads, canals, and other obstructions.
  • Water Well Driller -- Operates a variety of mobile water well drilling rigs and equipment to drill and monitor residential, commercial and industrial water wells.
  • Diamond Driller --
  • Explosive Bore Hole Driller --
  • Post Hole Digging Machine Operator --