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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. Includes horizontal and earth boring machine operators.

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster Power, Structural and Technical Systems pathway.


A person in this career:

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

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 bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • 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

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • 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
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overnight travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Blast Hole Driller --
  • Diamond Driller --
  • Drill Operator --
  • Driller --
  • Hard Rock Drill Operator --
  • Highwall Drill Operator --
  • Rock Drill Operator --
  • Underground Drill Operator --
  • Water Well Driller -- Operates a variety of mobile water well drilling rigs and equipment to drill and monitor residential, commercial and industrial water wells.
  • Well Driller --