Oil field employment – in high demand, pays well, many perks and benefits. Right now, only the gambling and tobacco industries can compare. Unfortunately, an oilfield job is not without its downsides. Not only that, but anything involving lots of money brings out the dark side of human nature.
The Good Points About Oil Rig Jobs
1. Excellent Salaries and Benefits
An oilfield job pays well – very often twice the salary in another industry. For example, rig welding jobs pay $62,000 while the same job in manufacturing only pays $30,000 (2004 statistics). Construction laborers earn $24,000 to $44,000 (in 2009) while roustabouts earn $45,000 to $55,000.
University graduates are not left out – in their 2008 meeting, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ April 2008 reported that graduate students (Masters and PhD degree holders) receive salaries ranging from $80,000 to $110,000. This did not include sign-up bonuses. Just five years earlier, in 2003, university graduates only earned $55,000.
2. Excellent Prospects
Whether oil sells above $100 or below $60, oil rig companies continue to hire new people. A UK report (2006) on the oil and gas industry highlighted major shortages in managers, professional and technical staff. Oil and gas companies do not have enough technicians, riggers, scaffolders and engineers.
Even in August 2008, CNN Money journalists reported that three decades of under-investment in oil rigs and personnel was leading to a shortage of experienced oil workers. Too many experienced employees are hitting their 50s and 60s. Like it or not, the oil companies need to hire people if they are to stay in business. The offshore drilling company, Noble Corporation, needs to fill 1500 openings for 5 new oil rigs. Other drilling service companies face the same problem.
Many oil fields have reached “peak oil”, that is they are past their prime. Oil companies need to find new oil fields – causing oil prospectors to be in high demand. Companies need to quickly replace their graying and retiring petroleum geologists hired in the 70s. Unfortunately for them, a trained petroleum geologist needs 4 years just to get his basic degree. After that he still needs two to five years to get his graduate specialties like Sedimentology, Geophysics or Structural Geology. Out of 20,000 undergraduates studying geology, less than 3,000 manage to graduate.
Overall, jobs in oil field won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
The Bad Points Of An Oil Rig Job
1. Lousy Hours
Oil field employment has lousy hours. A typical shift lasts 12 hours, and woe betide you if you get assigned the night shift. On top of that, you don’t have weekends, especially if you work in an offshore oil field. That’s 2 weeks of work, 12 hours a day, before you get a break. It takes a tough man to handle this schedule.
2. Marriage Breakups
Many people working in oil field jobs find their marriage in trouble due to the uncommon schedule. Many women can’t handle the reality of not seeing their husband for 14 days straight, then have to deal with him full-time for another 14 days. Unless they have fathers and brothers who also work in oilfield jobs, or live in a community of oil workers, the strain of handling jealous gossiping neighbors eventually poisons their relationship with their husband.
There is a good reason why an oil field job pays double – danger. Working on an oil well is dangerous compared to working in a factory or warehouse. There is the fact that the drilling rig could blow up, or the offshore oil platform could collapse or sink, not to mention that they are often popular terrorist targets, as oil workers in Third World countries can testify.
4. Inhospitable Environments
You can’t find oil in your backyard anymore. New oil fields have to be found in more and more extreme environments – Alaska, north Canada, Siberia, the North Pole and South Pole, the deep oceans. These are NOT comfortable places to work. On top of hard physical labor, you have to deal with sub-zero temperatures, gale-force winds, ice and snow. Only a masochist would enjoy this kind of environment.
Unfortunately, when it’s not freezing cold, it is hot, humid and sweaty in some African jungle, or blazingly hot like a furnace in some Arab desert.
The Ugly Things That Happen With Oil Rig Jobs
Wherever there is lots of money involved, there will be conmen. Oil field employment is no different – the high pay means that many job seekers become desperate. They become easy prey to conmen who promise them easy jobs, and end up paying thousands of dollars to these scammers.
A common ploy is to send you an email offering an oilfield job, but ask for your personal information, including your bank account number. To make it more genuine, the conman may conduct a telephone interview or interview you through instant messenger. Regardless, you will find yourself a victim of identity theft.
Similarly, if they ask you to send them $2000, or $5000 to facilitate your visa or some other paperwork, this is also probably a scam.
A genuine employer will never ask you to send them money. Neither will a job recruitment agency – they will be paid by the oil drilling company.
This doesn’t mean you never have to spend any money when looking for oil field employment. If you haven’t been able to find an oil field job for a while, it may be worthwhile spending $50 or so to get your resume written by a professional. Spending another $100 to hire a company to submit your resume to thousands of oil drilling service companies and contractors may also be advantageous.
2. No Place To Stay
Finding an oilfield job and getting hired is just the beginning. Unless you are a local, you may have problems finding a cheap place to stay. Many towns near a booming oil field find their property values and rentals shooting through the roof. Even if you have a caravan or mobile home, you may have difficulty finding a place to park it.
If you do not want to fritter away all your salary on a place to stay, you need to be prepared for a long commute.
3. Finding Oil Field Employment
Finding jobs in oil field are easier said than done. 80% of oil field job seekers only do these four things:
- Submit their resume to a free online job board like Monster
- Submit their resume to a recruitment agency or their local (un)employment board
- Scan newspaper advertisements
- Visit the websites of the major oil companies to look for oil vacancies
Unfortunately for them, the people who get hired are the 20% who go the extra mile:
- They let their friends and family members know that they are looking for oilfield jobs and ask for leads
- They go oil field fishing – that is to say the drive around to look for oil fields and talk to the people who manage the rigs
- They find the contact number, email or office address of the thousands of oil service contractors and ask if there are oil vacancies
- They pay specialized companies to mass submit their resumes to thousands of oil drilling companies
- They spend time where the hiring managers and oil rig workers hang out
Oil field employment pays very well, but the hours suck, and it is often too hot or too cold. On the other hand, if you are tough enough to stay the course, you could wind up retiring rich, owning your own home free and clear with your mortgage cleared off.
RigWorker.com has been helping people get oil field employment since 1998.
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