7 Oil Field Jobs Companies Are Desperate To Fill

oil field jobs: derrick hand, roustabout

It would have seemed the stuff of science fiction if it hadn't appeared on newspapers across the world: According to new forecasts, the United States may soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the planet's largest oil producing country. Developments in technology and high oil prices have created stunning oil booms across the U.S., transforming sleepy towns into energy powerhouses, and making the longtime dream of American energy independence a possibility again.

There's just one problem: More oil requires more oil workers.

By 2020, one industry report claims that the oil industry will have created an additional 1.3 million positions. "Even if we are [energy independent], we can't hire enough people to keep it running," says Brian Aylor, who works in the oil fields in Midland, Texas, where the current oil boom plunged unemployment to 3.3 percent in September. "There's demand for everything."

Companies in boomtowns like Midland, Texas, pay workers handsomely; kids fresh out of high school can earn $80,000 a year if they're willing to get their hands dirty. And while oilfield experience is preferred (companies are desperately looking for experienced hands), anywhere with oil-soaked shale beneath the feet is probably hungry for workers with any kind of technical background, whether they're military veterans or car mechanics.

More: Oil Workers Win Big As U.S. Wages Climb

AOL Jobs spoke with a half dozen West Texas staffing firms and a number of industry people to find out the most in-demand jobs -- and what it takes to land one. Job seekers pondering a new career in the gas and oil sector can check out the list of positions below, and see if they have the skills and temperament to join America's 21st century energy revolution.

1. Truck Driver

Why It's In Demand: "Because everyone needs trucks, from moving rigs and equipment, to hauling oil and water away, and 'frack' sand," says Ryan Lellis, an oil field geologist in the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. "Right now, every company is hurting for that."

What It Pays: An oil industry trucker can make up to $2,500 a week, according to Lonnie Ortiz, who owns L J Trucking, based in Odessa, Texas, although Payscale.com places the average at $45,000 a year.

Why It's A Tough Gig: "Someone with short patience won't make it as a truck driver," Ortiz says. "Someone with a short fuse won't make it as a truck driver." Truckers have to be "go-getters who can figure out problems, self-starters, leaders," he explains, since if they break down, assistance might not come for a while.

Qualifications: "You're a mechanic. You're a tire man. You're a load supervisor," says Ortiz. "You turn out to be lots of things as a truck driver. You're a skilled motorist. You're an electrician. Anything that a job title can be -- you're it."



2. Derrick Hand

Why It's In Demand: Not only are rigs springing up almost everyday, but a lot of current derrick hands are older, and getting ready to retire. "They call it the Great Crew Shift," says Tim Cook, the recruiting manager for Houston-based Pathfinder Staffing.

What It Pays: $69,000 a year, according to Indeed.com.

Why It's A Tough Gig: The derrick hand's job is to monitor the drilling fluid, maintain the pumps, guide the drill pipe, unjam jams, and any and all kinds of lifting, pulling, pushing and climbing in-between. "You're the 'anything that is extremely dangerous' person," says Benham.

Qualifications: Applicants should have some experience with rig work, have no fear of heights, and be able to pass a drug test.


3. Floorhand/Leasehand/Roustabout

Why It's In Demand: The more wells you have running, the more crewmen you need. The name changes depending on the company, but these lower-level hands have to do it all. Brian Aylor, a lease operator, says he calls in the roustabout crew when he can't fix something on the well himself.

What It Pays: $54,000 (according to the Drilling Oil and Natural Gas Wells Salary Survey).

Why It's A Tough Gig: The roustabout does a lot of the essential things on the rig sites that require less technical know-how. "It's going to be manual labor. It's going to be hard work," says Aylor. "Running a shovel, swinging a hammer ... building on locations, maintenance on equipment out in the fields."

"You've got to be a hands-on type of person, and not be afraid to get dirty, and not be afraid to lift heavy things and be around dangerous machinery," says Benham.

Qualifications: A roughneck needs a high school diploma or equivalent, and to be able to lift 150 pounds with the aid of another person, and stand for 12 hours wearing steel-toed boots.

More: 10 Industries Set To Boom



4. MWD Field Engineer

Why It's In Demand: A measuring-while-drilling field engineer is responsible for just that: Taking readings in the field during the drilling process -- to evaluate the drill site, and make sure that the drilling is done properly and efficiently. One job posting describes work hours as "unlimited and irregular."

What It Pays: Between $63,000 and $80,000 according to listings on Glassdoor.com.

Why It's A Tough Gig: The engineers measure "all the fun little numbers you think would matter while you're drilling a hole" says Benham, a specialist at temporary staffing firm in Midland. Those numbers are needed during the entire drilling process, so MWD field engineers can expect some serious demands on their time.

Qualifications: An undergraduate degree in engineering or science, or technical experience.

More: Trace Adkins Talks About His Old 'Day Job' As A Roughneck



5. Geologist

Why It's In Demand: "Most oil drilling is founded on geology, it's the first step," says Ryan Lellis, who's been an oil field geologist in Midland, Texas, for 2½ years. "The rocks have to be there and someone has to recognize that the rocks are there."

What It Pays: Geologists are well compensated for their key role; after 10 to 14 years experience they take home an average salary of $153,000, according to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. $99,000 and up (according to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists).

Why It's A Tough Gig: Geologists need to be extremely diligent, since their findings determine where an oil field company will then spend millions to drill a well. But for Lellis, that's also why the job is so satisfying -- presenting his findings to the managers and owners of his company, "and for them to spend money -- a lot of money" based on his conclusions.

Qualifications: Bachelor of Science degree, although a master's will give you a boost.



6. Welder

Why It's In Demand: "What I'm seeing is actually a tremendous growth in the [welding] industry," MSU-Billings College of Technology welding instructor Bob Blackwell told KTVQ in January. And folks are noting the trend all over the country, with oil companies, desperate for welders to repair and maintain rigs, using higher salaries to poach welders from other industries.

What It Pays: $18 and $28 an hour, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. But WDAY-TV has reported salaries as high as $12- to $14,000 a month in boom areas.

Why It's A Tough Gig: Like most rig jobs, you need to be able to handle some physical strain: heavy-lifting, hoisting, crawling, crouching, and heights.

Qualifications: High school degree or equivalent, welding training.



7. Accountant

Why It's In Demand: Not all oil and gas jobs involve digging really big holes. Those holes mean lots of paperwork, and the industry is hungry for office support staff to bean-count it all into place, according to Lesley Donnell, a branch manager at the Midland/Odessa office of Robert Half International.

"Accountants in general," she says, "specifically we have a high demand for tax accountants here right now."

What It Pays: $68,000 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Why It's A Tough Gig: Numbers, numbers, numbers.

Qualifications: Bachelor's degree in accounting, finance or business.

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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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cameron_mitchell22

My name is Cameron Mitchell. I currently hold a B.A.in Computer Information System, T.W.I.C, and Merchant Marine Credentials. I have a heavy IT background, but have transferrable skills into this industry. Unable to gain the attention of employers, because I have no prior Oil Ridge Experience. I'm no stranger to hard work and would like to gain experience in this field. Anyone know a company willing to take a chance on an experienced, seasoned, and ready to work employee. 817-849-4240 or cameron_mitchell@live.com

April 14 2014 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Snider

My name is Joe snider I am 41 yrs old I have about a10 yrs experience working for light plant generator service company's I'm currently working for an oilfield Rental serv co. Outta donie tx called vaquero light plant oilfield Rental serv. and the oil and gas business has about played out round here so I am looking to go to work for an lightplant generator serv. co around west Texas

April 13 2014 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Guadalupe

I AM A PAINTER / SANDBLASTER I HAVE WORKED ON PIPELINE ,RISERS AND FACILITIES I AM LOOKING FOR A POSITION AND I AM HAVING A HARD TIME GETTING THROUGH, IS THERE ANY NICE PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT CAN POINT ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION ? I HAVE ALSO OWNED A SMALL CORP. IN THE MARINE INDUSTRIES , I HAVE A CREW READY IF NEEDED FOR OILFIELD COATINGS/ SANDBLASTING. HERE IS MY PERSONAL PH. # 210 - 810 - 5473 I DO HAVE PICS OF MY WORK ALONG WITH CORP.PAPERS AND REFRENCES

March 24 2014 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Den

I'm from Milwaukee Wisconsin & I'm seeing this this oilfield jobs. I'm in the asphalt & sealing business.
We work 12 to 18 hrs a day, and it's very physical. but sucks here is the cold & snow, so we got down time for bout 4 months.
The thing I'm wondering about is i have a felony. It"s not violent,but it's possession of a weapon when having a restraining order with my wife. I thought it was dropped but it wasn't final. So, i got hit with 2 felonies for having world war 2 colts worth a lot of money. I would love to get into this field so I can raise up on the middle class.Could I break threw into this field? I'm 37 yrs old & not getting younger. Anyone with knowledge on how to get hired< please, email me at strahotajr.dennis@gmail.com. thank you $ your consideration..

February 01 2014 at 10:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
terry

Oil jobs west texas......wifes nephew making 10,000 month workin overtime........see www. texasoilcareers.com..........

January 24 2014 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to terry's comment
pdegrasse

Looking for Safety Positions Pdegrasse@aol.com San Antonio, Tilden. Dilley, Karnes.

February 09 2014 at 5:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Martin Kamau

my name is martin i come Kenya in Africa i don't have experience in oil job but i have work in hash environment in Afghanistan like 2years can i get job now and training for lease hand job position plz help my email is m.kamaumwangi42@gmail.com

January 20 2014 at 10:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anonymous

If your looking for north dakota oil jobs head over to http://www.bakkenoilcareers.com
If your looking for an oil jobs but don't have a preference on location go to http://www.usaoilcareers.com

November 11 2013 at 10:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Anonymous's comment
scott.jones57

How does a totally inexperienced person get into this industry and into which position. I have a B.S. Degree from Univ of Ga but am looking for a new career. I don't mind getting my hands dirty but just need a job with a good salary. Can anyone give me some advice?

November 14 2013 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anonymous

Texas Oil Jobs can be found at www.texasoilcareers.com

October 20 2013 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Travis

I have worked Chemicals, Roustabout, Construction, Pumper/Oil production and still am trying to find what suits me. Have any advice for me?

October 17 2013 at 7:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terry

In response to CPL. You are so lost in talking about oilfield jobs. You're comment about nobody stepping on derrick for less than 180K is so sickening to Me. I have been in the Oil Industry for 34 years and worked My way up through the ranks from roustabout to directional driller. You don't hire onto a drilling rig right out of high school and make 180K! You are STUPID and a prime example of people on the internet that talk about subjects that have no idea what they are talking about.

September 30 2013 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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