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Oil and Gas Jobs in Demand as Companies Seek to Bridge Skills Gap


It’s no secret. Millions of oil and gas jobs, and other employment opportunities beyond the energy sector, have been created in the U.S. thanks to the surging shale revolution.

While other industries are still recovering from the recession, oil proponents and economists are boasting about America’s economic bright spot, claiming that there’s no end in sight for the oil and gas industry’s impressive job growth.

Booming Growth in Oil and Gas Jobs

In just five years, the shale oil and gas boom has increased oil production in the U.S. by approximately 64 percent. As a result, oil and gas now supports almost 10 million workers, and employment growth in the industry is greatly outpacing job creation in other sectors.

In fact, direct job growth in the oil and gas industry has risen by 40 percent since the beginning of the recession in late 2007. Meanwhile, the overall U.S. economy witnessed an employment decline of roughly 3 percent between 2007 and 2013.

States benefitting from surging hydrocarbon production are also experiencing job growth at a higher rate than the national average.

Texas added over 4,000 new positions between April and June 2014, providing the Lone Star State with a commanding lead in oil and gas job creation.

Moreover, the robust economic and oil production powerhouse of North Dakota has lead the nation in job creation for five years in a row, and has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at roughly 2.6 percent.

Labor Shortages and the Great Crew Change

Reduced oil prices in the 90s, dwindling oil output levels, prevailing peak oil theories and the ill-fated image of the oil and gas sector deterred many young professionals from entering the industry. As a result, the industry is now dealing with a shortage of engineers, executives and skilled laborers.

For instance, an estimated 71 percent of the workforce in oil and gas is 50 years of age or older according to an IPAA survey. Furthermore, a survey conducted by Oil & Gas IQ found that roughly 50 percent of all geophysicist and engineers in the oil and gas industry will retire by 2018.

As a result, recruiters and companies associated with oil and gas development are working with high schools and universities throughout the U.S. to attract young professionals to the industry, and are investing in training programs – a high-stakes process that is commonly referred to as “the great crew change.”

Other expedient recruiting approaches involve buying out talent, promoting candidates internally, contracting workers for specific tasks and transforming operations to meet the competencies of available workers.

Furthermore, many operators are constantly increasing the salaries of their workers and promising prompt promotion opportunities in order to retain their employees.

The shortage of skilled oil and gas workers has also become a challenge for companies across the globe. According to a new international survey, roughly 66 percent of the world’s energy companies are poaching employees from their competition to support their expanding operations.

Attracting Millennials to Fill Compounding Oil and Gas Jobs

Acquiring talent from a nearby competitor is by no means a sustainable business practice. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important for the oil and gas industry to appeal to the interests and desires of millennials to minimize staffing issues resulting from the labor shortage.

Millenials are tech savvy, digital natives, and place a significant emphasis on corporate social responsibility. The Y Generation is interconnected, due diligence oriented, seeks authentic relationships and strive to make the world a better place.

For some of these reasons, Silicon Valley start-ups have successfully attracted the attention of talented and highly-sought after youth.


oil and gas jobs FB

Although it has been and will continue to be an ongoing challenge, the rapidly expanding oil and gas job market, and the brimming promise and unparalleled prosperity surrounding the industry, is beginning to attract the attention of technical enthusiasts and entrepreneurs of the younger generation.

While many millennials believe strongly in the promise of green initiatives, it’s important to note that wind and solar installations accounted for just 4 percent of U.S. power consumption in 2013, despite the support of millions of dollars in tax-payer funded subsidies.

Considering the oil and gas industry’s influence on the quality of life for millions of Americans, and the fact that there is arguably no other sector more integrated with our economy than the oil and gas industry, fulfilling the compounding employment demands of the industry is essential to our nation’s energy security and economic stability.

Therefore, ensuring the security of our nation, our neighbors and the energy infrastructure in general could be an encouraging factor to help divert the attention of millenials from entering into Silicon Valley start-ups.

If not, the attractive wages and salaries of the oil and gas industry could be an impressive means to catch the attention of gifted and highly-motivated young professionals.

Wages and Employment Benefits of Oil and Gas Jobs

Today, the industry supports an estimated 9.8 million oil and gas jobs through various operations and capital investments. These jobs account for approximately $597.6 billion in wages, salaries, benefits and proprietors’ income, and added roughly $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy.

Although the industry is already the top job creating sector in the U.S., it also offers Americans higher wages and salaries compared to other industries.

For example, the average domestic salary for exploration and production jobs is an estimated $96,844, more than double the average salary for other U.S. occupations outside of the oil and gas industry.

While a wide-array of employment opportunities are being created throughout the industry, engineering jobs are the most demanded positions in oil and gas.

Petroleum engineering jobs are expected to increase by 21 percent from 2012 to 2022 – a rate that greatly outpaces the average job growth for all other occupations. Petroleum engineering also tops the list of highest paying college majors, offering an average starting salary of $89,000 and a mid-career salary of $159,900.

According to a report by CNNMoney, in 2013 Petroleum Geologists were the second highest paid skilled workers in the U.S. with a median salary of $183,000. Reservoir Engineers were the third highest paid employees with a median salary of $179,000.

PayScale and CNNMoney teamed-up last year to determine the top 100 U.S. careers based on estimated job growth, salary and employment satisfaction. It’s no surprise to find a variety of oil and gas jobs make the list.

In 2013, the average earnings for an oil and gas professional in North America reached $92,160 in the U.S. – more than double the national average salary. Moreover, in 2011 the average salary for a rig worker and other industry personnel was $99,175.

While these opportunities are by no means cushy jobs, they offer both experienced and “un-skilled” workers the opportunity to make a healthier living in comparison to jobs in other industries due to the profitability and scale of oil and gas operations.

The Important Role of Women in Oil and Gas Job Growth

Although oil and gas jobs have traditionally been dominated by males, more and more women are becoming integral and powerful contributors to the sector.

oil and gas jobs rig2

From on-site activities to the executive staff of world-renowned companies, the female workforce in oil and gas is proving to be an essential demographic in pushing the industry forward, altering the industry’s public perception and in aiding the labor shortages of oil and gas companies.

While the number of women involved in oil and gas has remained stagnant in the past couple of decades, their numbers have more than doubled in recent years, and in some cases, outpace the number of men filling oil and gas jobs.

In the first quarter of 2013, women filled roughly 46 percent of the 3,900 newly created oil and gas jobs. Furthermore, there were approximately 33,900 female employees in the oil and gas workforce in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The increased involvement and encouragement of women filling more oil and gas jobs should be a celebration for anyone that considers themselves to be a champion of progress, diversity and innovation.

Unfortunately, a study conducted by BP and Rigzone in 2013 revealed that roughly 20 percent of respondents strongly believe gender-based discrimination is still alive and well in the industry.

While some conventional thinking around the subject of women in oil and gas remains (I can’t help but allude to the amenities and chauvinistic nomenclature surrounding “man-camps”), it is encouraging to hear that the interests of the majority of oil and gas workers transcends gender-based stereotypes.

Surging Oil and Gas Output is Creating Other Energy-Related Jobs

Rising oil and gas output is also stimulating growth in infrastructure and support services in shale rich regions, and is bolstering the local economies characterized by shale production.

Furthermore, the oil and gas production renaissance in the United States has also created a domestic manufacturing boom.

America’s abundant supply of affordable energy is helping the U.S. make significant progress in regaining its position as a global manufacturing leader, and is driving demand for energy-related jobs outside of the oil and gas industry.

Attracting and Retaining Employees

The oil and gas industry is effectively enhancing our nation’s energy security and providing stability in a relatively ambiguous economic era. The industry and has emerged as the as the top job creating sector in the nation, and the energy boom has driven job growth for a fourth straight year.

oil and gas jobs catwalk

Oil production in the United States recently reached a 28 year high, and has helped the U.S. reduce oil imports to roughly 50 percent. Furthermore, imports of petroleum products in July reached the lowest level the U.S. has witnessed in 19 years.

The industry is generating billions in tax revenues for governments at the local, state and federal level, and is supplying millions of consumers with lower energy costs.

While the economic advantages and benefits are remarkable achievements, the great crew change poses a significant threat to the long-term growth of the sector.

For this reason, supplying the booming oil and gas job creation is a prevailing topic amongst industry professionals, economists and media outlets. It was even a common significant discussion point at the Energy Digital Summit.

Because of the gravity of the issues, the process of filling oil and gas jobs should not be solely viewed as a task for recruiters.

It is the responsibility of every oil and gas professional to do his or her part to alter the perceptions of the industry through various educational methods, and to generate awareness for the vast opportunities the oil and gas sector offers job seekers.

Your Take on the Oil and Gas Skills Gap

Are the elevated wages, increased employment satisfaction levels and challenging skill requirements of the oil and gas industry enough to attract the attention of talented and highly-sought after youth?

Can the rapidly expanding industry sustain the compounding labor shortages by appealing to the interests of millennials, women and energy enthusiasts?

Leave a comment below.

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Nathan Randazzo

Nathan Randazzo is a technical writer who enjoys covering oil and gas industry news. Nathan achieved a Bachelors of Science in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin and a Business Foundations Certificate from the McCombs School of Business. Nathan is a native Texan, multi-instrumentalist and outdoor enthusiast.