So you’ve decided that you want to work on an oil rig? That’s great. Now all you have to do is look for the jobs you’re qualified for and wait until you hear back from an employer. But what happens if you don’t have experience in the field? There are a lot of good men and women out there (many ex-military) who have the work ethic but just can’t seem to find a company who will hire them. “But I thought the oil companies were practically begging to have people work for them.” you say. This is only partly true. While there are many entry level positions available such as roughneck and welders, there are also a slew of other jobs such as medics, chemists, engineers and other services that need to be filled too. So while the oilfields DO create more jobs, a lot of them do require some sort of experience or professional degree to get. So where does that leave you?
Before you go ahead and book the first bus to North Dakota in hopes of a big pay day, you need to understand what the basic qualifications are for entry level positions. These aren’t set in stone but should at least be taken into consideration.
- You are in decent physical shape and can lift at least 50lbs multiples times throughout the day. If you have serious health problems, you’ll probably want to reconsider your choice
- You are at least 18 years old with a valid drivers license
- You are willing to work extremely long hours. It is not uncommon for entry-level employees to work 12-14 hours for 7 days a week. This lifestyle ain’t for the faint.
- You are medically fit to operate machinery
- You own all the necessary protective gear such as boots, gloves, glasses and anything else you need for your environment
- You are willing to move to the job’s location. Most likely you don’t live in the area where your company will need you. You must be OK with leaving your current residence for long periods of time
- Be prepared for unstable employment. Many entry-level jobs fluctuate. You may have months of non-stop work followed by a month of being unemployed. Get ready to have to relocate to new jobs at short notice
If you have absolutely zero experience but have a little extra money to throw around, consider investing in oilfield specific training. There are schools that offer oilfield training which can help boost your resume to the top of the pile. A short list can be found here:
Atlantic Petroleum Training College
The American Petroleum Institute
Petroleum College International
Properly Locating Yourself
While you don’t have to live in the area where you will be working, it is important to understand where the companies you want to apply for are currently operating. You need to do some research online and find out where the work is and then make a concerted effort to go out after it. You can do this by going to job fairs, interviews and any training courses that may be offered in these locations.
If you don’t feel like footing the bill to go to school, consider joining a seismic exploration team. There are many jobs in the seismic field industry because each team is rather large, consisting of 20-45 people. Most will hire people even if they have little to no experience working on the oilfield. The starting pay isn’t the highest, but it can serve as a good starting point. After a good run with a seismic crew, you should have enough experience to get higher up positions in the oilfield industry.
Apply To The Right Places
Most people make the mistake of trying to apply to large companies by submitting their resumes online. The problem is that many of these companies actually give their work to private contractors. So instead of applying to large firms, try looking at smaller contractors. You may need to do a little research online to find out who they are in particular areas. Try going on general employment websites to see if there are any oil field postings. Also, consider submitting your resume to online job boards where the contractors may be able to search for YOU. Remember, if you get turned down a bunch of times don’t get discouraged. Keep your head up and continue churning out resumes.