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Thread: Getting an Oilfield Job

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    Oct 2017

    Getting an Oilfield Job

    This was originally posted on the Bad Ass Work Gear blog, but I thought this excerpt might help anyone currently looking for an oilfield job

    If you’re wondering how to get a job in the oilfield, this is your ultimate guide. After many years in the industry, we’ll provide all the tips and tricks to getting your start in the oil and gas industry and on your way to earning good money.

    Getting started in the oilfield is tough. Jobs in the oil and gas industry are highly sought after because it can pay so well, and you don’t necessarily need to go to school for years to make a decent living.

    Personally, I know guys with a 6th grade education making $300k a year. Let’s be honest… This is rare, but it certainly happens. Realistically, if you’re a hard worker and have a good head on your shoulders, you can make a really good living, sometimes working only half the year.

    The Oilfield – It’s Not all Sunshine and Rainbows

    Oilfield workers are a tough breed. Some may be a little bit rough around the edges. Some may have little formal education. Some may have advanced degrees. Some do very hard physical labor. Some have it easier. It really depends on what role you play and what profession you are in. The oil and gas industry in enormous, and you wouldn’t believe the number of jobs available in this industry.

    But… It’s a hard life. You’ll typically either work on a rotation schedule or a 24/7 on call schedule.

    With a rotation schedule, you’ll typically work 7 days on / 7 days off, 14 days on / 7 days off, or 28 days on / 28 days off. This type of schedule is nice because you know when you’ll be working and when you’ll be off, plus you have a lot of off time. The downside is you have very little power to change your working days and you miss many birthdays, holidays, and other special events.

    With a 24/7 schedule you are basically on call ALL the time. If a job comes up, you got to go.

    The Oilfield is Like Riding a Bull

    When considering a job in the oilfield, always remember that it is a cyclical industry.

    You’ll be making more money than you ever imagined when the oil price is high. You’ll be holding on for dear life, when oil prices are low.

    Having lived through the 80’s, 90’s, and the latest downturn in 2015 – 2017, I can tell you that I’ve seen many people laid off, having their salaries cut, and some that have lost everything. When times are bad, they are really bad.

    Oil Prices

    But, when times are good, the potential to make money is enormous! In good times, you’ll be rewarded financially and jobs will be plenty. Just make sure to save because you never know when the next downturn is going to arrive.

    What Type of Oilfield Job is right for me?

    The oil and gas industry is very diverse, but this article is geared toward field positions. In the field, there are three types of companies:

    Operators – Operators are the companies that own the well. They make the decisions on the drilling contractor that will drill the well and the service providers that will help drill, complete, and maintain the well. The most common field position is the production hand. These are the guys that maintain production for the operator.

    Drilling Contractors – Sub-contracted by the operator, drilling contractors are the company that is contracted to drill the well. Working for the drilling contractor means you are contracted by the operator to drill a well which they will later produce. In this case, you will be employed by the driller to drill a well They utilize a drilling rig to drill the well and can help the well completions team run their downhole equipment as well. There are many positions available on drilling rigs. If you’re just starting out you’ll probably start at the bottom as either a roustabout or roughneck.

    Service Companies – Service companies provide many different services to both the operator and drilling contractor during drilling, completions, and ongoing operations. You could work in the field, in the shop, or in the manufacturing plant for the service company.


    Where do you want to work. Many oilfield jobs are not going to be close to home. If fact, you may work in a far-away location whether that be in the continental US, offshore, or over seas.

    The map below shows the world’s hot spots for oil and gas.

    World Oil


    Gulf of Mexico
    West Africa
    North Sea

    On-Shore US

    Bakken – Montana / North Dakota / Canada
    Marcellus – Ohio / Pennsylvania
    Barnett – Texas, Bend Arch – Forth Worth
    Haynesville – Arkansas, North Louisiana, and East Texas
    Utica – Pennsylvania
    Permian – West Texas
    EagleFord – South Texas

    OnShore Outside US / Overseas

    Papua New Guinea
    Saudi Arabia

    What Qualifications are needed to work in the oilfield?:

    You must be 18 years of age and have proof of ID or a work Visa.
    Field work is often physically intense. You will need to be in good physical shape, and often you will even be required to take a physical fitness test before you are hired. You must be able to lift 50 lbs. You must be able to go up and down stairs.
    You must be able to work long hours. A lot of oilfield jobs will require you to work extended hours, perhaps 12-14 hours per day. I’ve actually worked 34 in my longest stretch. Depending on your job role, you may have to work until the job is complete. Other jobs work 12 hour shifts and you swap out with the night or day crew. In some instances, the operator will only allow a maximum of 12 hours shifts.

    What are the best places to look for oilfield jobs?

    Let’s be honest, most people blindly submit resumes until they can’t think straight anymore. Then… Crickets.

    Submitting resumes is actually the hardest way to find a job. Here are some tips to get past the gatekeepers and get noticed.

    When starting out, most people do a Google search or find job listings for the large oil and gas companies. If you do not have connections or experience, it would be easier to get your first job with a smaller company and work your way up as you gain some experience in the industry.
    Your Network

    The oil and gas industry is a very tight knit community, and by far, the easiest way to find a job is getting a recommendation from someone you know who already works at one of these companies.

    If you don’t know anyone, this makes it hard to get in. But for the guys that have been in the industry for a long time, this is their biggest asset. It’s not uncommon for an experienced hand to jump to their competitor to get more pay because one of their buddies made the jump and entice them over.

    Ask family, friends, and friends of friends if they know anyone in the oilfield. If so, ask them if they know anyone hiring. A recommendation goes a long way, and even if it is just a foot in the door, this is 1000X better than submitting resumes.

    Social Media

    If you have zero people in your network, social media is your next step. Start getting involved in conversations in social media groups.

    LinkedIn – See if you know anyone working at your target company
    Facebook – Join oilfield groups and get involved in the conversation

    Do not be creepy. Don’t be the guy that posts, “get me a job” to people you don’t know.

    Rigzone – The premier oil and gas job search website.
    Indeed – Aggregates jobs from all available sources. Basically a one stop shop for job search.
    Craigslist – Still a great place to find entry-level oil and gas jobs
    LinkedIn – LinkedIn’s job search list its own jobs as well as aggregates from other job listing sites. The best thing about LinkedIn is you can also see who you know at each company.
    Oilandgasjobsearch.com – A niche oil and gas job search site

    Employment Agencies

    Employment agencies are a good place to start if you have little experience and are trying to get into the field.

    They can look for openings and start putting you in contract positions to build your experience. These will be mostly hard manual labor jobs, but sometimes you have to start somewhere.

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