Millions of undergraduates are eyeing a job with a good salary in the oil and gas industry as a promising land to start their career.
But whether these jobs will stay in demand after a few decades is what many still wonder about. Let’s learn more about its advantages and disadvantages to make an informed choice.
Is Oilfield Services and Gas Distribution A Good Career Path?
The oil and gas industry offers diverse job positions and skill sets with good salaries. It strongly relies on teamwork and does not even require a college degree for some entry-level positions. However, some jobs are dangerous, not environmentally friendly, and feel unfulfilling for some ambitious individuals. So, you can weigh up these pros and cons to make the best choice.
Diverse Skill Sets
The oil and gas industry provides thousands of job opportunities, from hands-on jobs like welding to office positions in project management.
Such impressive diversity allows you to pick up valuable and transferable skills along the way; for instance, project management skills in the oil and gas sector are in equally high demand across other industries like finance, healthcare, or higher education.
Diverse Job Positions
The oil and gas sector is adapting to ongoing changes in the energy industry while shifting towards renewable, cleaner energy sources. This adaptation opens up even more career prospects as a result. Many job positions are also embracing new technology like automation and robotics, offering even more opportunities for tech-savvy graduates.
Do you have a strong passion for traveling? Then, a career in the oil and gas industry might be a perfect fit.
Field roles, like petroleum geologists or drilling engineers, often require travel. Onshore drilling locations can be found anywhere from the Middle East and Africa to Texas, and offshore rigs like the Gulf of Mexico are usually in the heart of open waters.
Oil and gas jobs are known for their competitive salaries. As of April 25, 2023, the median annual salary in the industry is $106,790, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Considering that many employees do not even have to work year-round, the earnings are twice as impressive.
No Requirement for College Degrees
One of the sector’s strongest competitive edges is the lack of strict requirements for college degrees, as its entry-level positions demand only a high school diploma. That’s why the jobs are accessible to a much wider range of job seekers.
Every team member relies on each other to communicate possible risks and comply with safety procedures.
Such strong teamwork helps reduce injuries and accidents while also guaranteeing smooth, efficient operations within budget. After each successful project, you and your teammates will find yourselves getting closer to that long-awaited promotion.
Petroleum products (e.g., crude oil) are not environmentally friendly; people often associate them with climate change and high carbon dioxide emissions. With these significant drawbacks, the oil and gas industry becomes much less appealing, especially if environmental impacts have always been your top concern.
Jobs in the oil and gas sector have been ranked among the top ten riskiest occupations. Common accidents involve contact with dangerous objects/equipment and transportation incidents, leading to explosion- or fire-related damage, falls, chemical burns, and even death.
Changing your work location constantly is very tiring. Worse, if you work overseas, visa or immigration documents are required.
Nevertheless, depending on your preferences, the need for frequent travel can be viewed as both an advantage and a drawback. While some find it inconvenient, others fully embrace the travel demands of their job positions.
Lack of Stability
Despite the good pay and generous job prospects, this industry does not offer long-term stability.
Some job positions are undemanding and only require high-school degrees. But that means job-hopping is necessary for more ambitious people to seize the best promotion opportunities, which leads to a strong sense of constant uncertainty and rootlessness.
Factors to Consider If You Choose This Career Path
When considering a career path in the oil and gas industry, there are several crucial factors to keep in mind:
The industry has had a less-than-stellar reputation for workplace safety, which understandably discourages many graduates and beginners.
But hundreds of gas companies have recently tried their best to promote safety measures. As a result, over the past decade, safety incidents in the sector have declined by 41%. Since 2017, only 1.7 out of every 100 oil and gas workers have experienced on-the-job injuries, according to Coga.
High earnings are among the most appealing aspects of the industry. The $106,790 median annual wage mentioned above is notably higher than the national average yearly salary of $61,900 (As of April 25, 2023, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Still, do not forget that these numbers can vary considerably, meaning some job positions might pay as high as $200,000 or as low as $30,000. Do your research carefully.
Like salaries, working conditions differ dramatically across sites and job positions.
For instance, engineers in the field may visit job sites occasionally, but more than 80% of their time is spent in offices with regular schedules. On the other hand, those on the field often have much more demanding roles, working long days and probably spending weeks at remote oil well locations.
Although countries are trying to rely less on oil and gas, the demand for these energy sources is unlikely to decrease in the near future. In fact, studies from API even suggest a huge leap to 1.9 million jobs by 2035 – great news for those considering a solid career in the field.
Some Popular Oil and Gas Jobs to Consider
Mud loggers monitor drilling activities and record critical data about the well status during extraction. The role is mostly site-based and involves long shifts (some workdays even last twelve hours) with flexible work schedules. For instance, some might work on a two-week on-site and two-week off-site rotation, while others have four-week stints.
Earnings for mud lodgers can be promising, especially if you have lots of experience.
Salary: $43,784 per year (September 25, 2023)
Mining engineers supervise the mine development and participate in every phase of the mining projects (though their main focus is the site’s early evaluation). The job usually involves long-hour travel, quite suitable for people passionate about exploring new locations worldwide.
Although certain research positions in the field require doctorates related to geology, most entry-level roles only ask for a degree in mining engineering.
Salary: $84,658 per year (September 25, 2023)
Do you have no scientific or engineering background?
Then, working as a marketing coordinator might be your best fit. This job mostly oversees marketing and supply operations, collaborates closely with client services, and ensures smooth supply chains. Their typical working hours are from 9 to 5.
Salary: $57,216 per year (April 26, 2023)
An energy engineer designs renewable energy technologies to provide innovative and efficient energy solutions. They also inspect sites and conduct energy surveys, with working conditions ranging from on-site to office and labs.
So, how can you be qualified for the job? A background in science or engineering is a must. While not compulsory in the past, specialized qualifications related to sustainable energy and climate science have become increasingly more important for this occupation in recent years.
Salary: $78,760 per year (September 25, 2023)
Petroleum engineers are involved in all the stages of oil and gas field operations, from assessment to development and production. Therefore, various job positions are available, such as reservoir engineers (for risk assessment) and drilling engineers (for supervising drilling costs and operations). Work hours are typically from 9 to 5.
Salary: $102,392 per year (September 25, 2023)
As a geologist, you will evaluate geographical risks associated with engineering processes.
Unlike some other roles requiring extended shifts (e.g., 7 days at a time), this position usually follows a much more typical work schedule. Salaries vary depending on experience and skill.
Salary: $51,499 per year (September 25, 2023)
Confident in your analytical skills? Then this job is for you, as it mostly requires you to create business plans for development projects and work closely with multiple teams to prepare marketing agendas.
Commercial analysts usually follow a 9-to-5 work schedule and do not have to work extended shifts (as seen in offshore positions). Like with other roles in the industry, the salary hinges on your years of experience.
Salary: $72,438 per year (September 28, 2023)
A truck driver transports various materials, such as fuel, equipment, and supplies, from one location to another. This job doesn’t require a lot of prior experience but will keep you on the road for extremely long hours, so be prepared.
Salary: $49,920 per year (September 6, 2023)
Companies hire roustabouts to handle on-site tasks like repairing and cleaning drilling equipment, managing oil spills, and maintaining/inspecting pipes. Though physically demanding, this position barely needs any related degree or qualification, which is a significant advantage.
Salary: $45,750 per year (April 25, 2023)
Deckhand jobs, also known as floorhand jobs, work under direct instructions from on-site supervisors. They are responsible for on-site tasks (mostly hands-on), including cleaning, painting, and repairing equipment.
Salary: $34,960 per year (September 6, 2023)
After some training, companies assign welders to weld pipes and metal materials to speed up the project operations and ensure the infrastructure remains sturdy.
Job seekers definitely need a welder license or certification to apply for the position. Fortunately, previous experience in the oil/gas sector is usually not required.
Salary: $47,540 per year (September 6, 2023)
What Do You Need to Start A Career In The Oil and Gas Industry?
To get into the oil field, you should first address your interests and skills to determine the most suitable position for you, then complete the required engineering or science degrees for that job, if any.
Seek a good internship opportunity to hone your skills before sending your CV to companies you are interested in. We suggest starting with an entry-level position to build your professional network and experience before going higher.
Aside from the vital skills for the oil and gas industry, do not forget to enhance your technical, analytical, organizational, and communication skills, which help you advance further in your career.
Our guide has introduced practical tips on how to get into the oil industry and suggested some of the common jobs for you to consider. This industry has a fair share of pros and cons, so weigh them carefully to settle on the best career choice.