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Where the Entry Level Jobs for Veterans Are in the

Oil and Gas Industry


hile the rate of unemployment for veterans, age 18 and older is down from 8.1 percent in 2011 to 6.7 percent in 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 735,000 veterans looking for work. In July 2012 the unemployment rate for veterans fell to 6.9 percent, the lowest level in more than three years. This may reflect the impact of federal and state government programs that help returning vets, including assistance with transitioning into jobs. In 2011, 21.6 million men and women ages 18 and over were veterans. Veterans are more likely to be men and more likely to be older than nonveterans. Returning veterans who struggle to find jobs in a tight economy face multiple challenges says Frank Vitale, co-founder of VetConnection.Org, a veteran and the Sr. Vice President of Clear Mountain Bank in Morgantown W.Va. “A job gives you a sense of empowerment, a sense of accomplishment and purpose. When you don’t have those things you begin to get introspective and begin to think why don’t I have a job and why aren’t things going right for me? I’ve sacrificed so much for my country.” The faster these returning veterans are able to get into the workforce, the more productive and successful they will be, and the more readily they will assimilate back into civilian life, says Vitale. Those who don’t quickly find jobs, he says: “May turn to drugs and alcohol to satisfy some pains and also may struggle to have a place to live.” While services are available to help veterans through resources like the Veterans Administration (VA), Vitale says that many veterans over the last 10 years are unlikely to engage the VA. Why? There are a lot of reasons, he says, but “chief among them is that when a vet separates they want to be separated—they want to be done with the military.” According to a 2011 poll by, common challenges that veterans face in returning to the workforce include: R5Finding a job that matches what they want in terms of salary, location, etc. R5Finding opportunities for which they are qualified R5Having employers understand their skills and experience R5Applying military skills in nonmilitary settings The good news? The oil and gas industry represents a rich source of entry level jobs for veterans—from drilling jobs, to jobs in surveying, procurement, scheduling and various trades. The jobs site recently listed almost 12,000 oil and gas jobs, about 1100 in North America. Danielle Boston is a (title) with (company) and says: “This is really an exciting time for our industry.” In speaking about the Marcellus Shale Coalition—which is producing natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays in Pennsylvania, she says: “When one considers the wide range of options being explored

in renewal or alternative energy sources – such as solar, wind or hydro power – for this region of the country a viable natural gas industry can be a major contributor to the economy.” There are a wide array of jobs available, she notes, adding that not all jobs are directly in oil and gas—some represent companies that serve the oil and gas operators. Boston’s firm has identified what they are calling “six high priority occupations.” These include derrick operators, rotary drill operators, service unit operators, roustabouts, welding and braising operators and truck drivers. “CDL licensed truck drivers are in very high demand right now,” she says. About 70-75 percent of these jobs are blue collar she says—jobs that don’t require a two or four-year degree. One potential drawback is that, for most people, most of these jobs will require a relocation or time away from home. “This industry is a very mobile industry,” says Boston. “It’s also a 24/7 type operation. Typically they are going to be working longer hours—a lot of 12 hour shifts, and two weeks on with one or two weeks off.” The work environment can also be demanding and much of it outdoors, which can be great on warm, sunny days, but not so great on cold, rainy or snowy days. But, she adds: “This can be a good fit for veterans because they’re no strangers to long hours, hard work and working in these conditions.” The pay is good—starting salaries range from $13-19/hour and, in certain areas of the country (like Pennsylvania) opportunities are plentiful. “We’re thinking that within Pennsylvania we’ve impacted about 90,000 jobs in 2010 and, by 2020, we perceive that this industry will grow and probably impact more than 200,000 jobs,” says Boston.

Top Natural Gas Producers—2012

R5ExxonMobil R5Chesapeake Energy R5Anadarko R5Devon Energy R5BP

R5Encana R5ConocoPhillips R5Southwestern Energy Co. R5BHP Billiton R5Chevron

Hydraulic Fracturing—“Fracking” —Rocks the Gas Industry Hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—is a technique used to free natural gas found in shale rock formations through a mix of water and sand injected into the rock at very high pressures. The injection creates fractures in the rock and allows natural gas to flow. It’s big business—since 2007 more than 4500 wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania ( blogs/cepr-blog/fracking-nonsense-the-job-myth-of-gas-drilling).

Human Resources Employment & Human Resources

by Lin grensing-Pophal

Veterans Opportunity | 13

To make fracking possible, sand is required and sand mining has increased significantly around the country. The rapid increase in the use of this technique is opening up significant job opportunities at an entry level. A study commissioned by the Marcellus Shale Coalition and researchers with Penn State University estimated that gas drilling would support 216,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone by 2015.

Careers in the Oil and Gas Industry

The site outlines different types of companies that employ people offshore: R5Operating companies: hold the exploration and production licenses and operate the production facilities. Most of them are international companies, working in many different parts of the world. R5Drilling companies: contracted to undertake the drilling work, and often operate and maintain their own mobile drilling rigs. Like the operating companies, they tend to work globally. R5Major contractors: provide integrated operations and maintenance services to the operating companies. On some installations they employ almost all the regular offshore personnel (the ‘”core crew”). Some are very large international companies, while others are small by comparison.

R5Searching for oil and gas R5Production R5General operations R5Exploration R5Business support R5Drilling R5Well services According to, a UK-based site, there are both onshore and offshore installations. Onshore installations are on land and usually close to the sea. They receive oil and gas from offshore installations via pipeline or tanker. These installations may prepare liquid gas products for further refining, but they are not the refineries. They also may take the natural gas and make it suitable for piping into the National Grid. At some installations gas liquids are processed.

R5FPSO operators: operate and maintain floating production storage and offloading units that are designed to remain on station for months or even years on end, and are packed with equipment for processing oil and gas. R5Service companies  provide specialist assistance to both operating and drilling companies, e.g. well service firms, drilling mud suppliers, cementing companies, well testing specialists, seismic firms, divers, caterers, etc.

Employment by Occupation data series

Employment, 2011

geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers


Petroleum engineers

15,720 6,260

roustabouts, oil and gas


Wellhead pumpers


(Source: Occupational Employment Statistics)

Financing Small Business Growth

412.201.2450 •

14 | Veterans Opportunity


Employment & Human Resources

A Revolution in New Job Creation

in manufacturing, wholesale trade and education, among others.

A new HIS study America’s New Energy Future indicates that the revolution in unconventional oil and gas production is having a significant impact on job creation, economic growth and government revenues. Some highlights:

Subsequent reports will focus on the economic impacts on a state-by-state level and the potential for a U.S. manufacturing renaissance fueled by abundant energy supply.

R5 Employment in the entire upstream unconventional oil and gas sector on a direct, indirect, and induced basis will Annual SPE Salary Survey support nearly 1.8 million jobs in 2012, Shows Continued Growth 2.5 million jobs in 2015, 3 million jobs Trend in 2020, and nearly 3.5 million jobs in Compensation in the petroleum industry 2035. in 2011 continues to follow the growth R5 The jobs created tend to be high trend of recent years, with an overall quality and high paying. Workers increase in average base pay globally of associated with unconventional oil 6.5%, which is slightly higher than the and gas are currently paid an average average self-reported increase of 5.9% of $35.15 per hour—higher than the among survey participants. Mean base pay wages in the general economy ($23.07 increased from USD 139,194 in 2010 to per hour) and more than wages paid USD 148,301 in 2011.

BLS Occupational Stats for Oil and Gas Workers

Quick Facts: Oil and Gas Workers 2010 Median Pay

$37,640 per year $18.09. per hour

Entry-level Education

Less than high school

Work Experience in a related Occupation


Number of Jobs, 2010


Job Outlook, 2010-20


Employment Change, 2010-20


Wages, 2011

Employment by Occupation



data series





geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers





Petroleum engineers









roustabouts, oil and gas





Wellhead pumpers





(Source: Occupational Employment Statistics)

Earnings and Hours of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees data series

Back data

Average hourly earnings

Average weekly hours

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012




(P) $28.58




(P) 46.9

*(P) Preliminary (Source: Current Employment Statistics)

Human Resources Employment & Human Resources

Veterans Opportunity | 15

Veterans Opportunity Network: Where the Jobs Are  
Veterans Opportunity Network: Where the Jobs Are  

Where the Entry Level Jobs are of Veterans in the Oil and Gas Industry