I have worked in the oil and gas industry for 29 years and am currently working as a drilling consultant in Carroll County. Having worked in several states and experienced several boom-and-bust cycles in my home state of Colorado, I’d like to share some insights about employment opportunities in the industry.
The economic impact of this boom to the people of Ohio can be significant. But one of the biggest frustrations I’ve had in Pennsylvania and in Ohio is that so few local people are getting involved in the boom. Most of the people working are from other states.
In Pennsylvania, about 200 ripple-effect jobs are created for every working drill rig, from employees directly employed by the rig to support personnel to contractors and store clerks.
Entry-level rig hands earn around $20 an hour. A motivated high school graduate can start out earning $60,000 a year and work up to the position of driller, earning $135,000 a year, in as little as two years.
Support specialists such as directional drillers and drilling fluid engineers earn $150,000 a year, and highly experienced consultants earn in excess of $200,000 a year, all without college degrees.WORK FOR WELDERSWelders can specialize in pipe welding or, if they are certified all-position welders, can work on rig repairs and modifications and in rig manufacturing.
Equipment operators are in high demand to build roads and well locations and reclaiming locations after drilling. Truck drivers are essential in moving rigs, hauling drinking water to rigs and hauling frack and produced water.
There are specialists for installing impermeable liners to prevent environmental damage from spills and leaks, and for planting grass and maintaining weed control on locations and rights of way.
Geologists are in demand, as are surveyors, computer and tech experts — everything on most rigs is computerized — business managers, restaurant and hotel employees and cleaning contractors.
After the drilling is long done, people are required to maintain wellheads and monitor production and production equipment and pipelines. A well tender or compressor operator typically earns $40 or more an hour. Mechanics are in high demand.
While much of the work is physically demanding there are hundreds of opportunities for men and women of all physical abilities.
Rig personnel typically work seven- or 14-day hitches of 12-hour days, which can be demanding on families, but it allows for seven to 14 days off to spend quality time or take extended trips. The opportunities are almost limitless.
The industry universally requires pre-hire and random drug testing, which has made it a safe place to work and has improved the caliber of people working.
QUICK ADVANCEMENTMotivated and talented people can start at the entry level and quickly move up to higher-level positions to maximize the economic impact and assure that local values are addressed and preserved.
Don’t be intimidated — your diverse experience will probably fit somewhere in the industry, or you can get great on-the-job training. Many vo-tech schools have started basic training programs in cooperation with drilling contractors and oil and gas companies to provide introductory training.
Ohio is an important part of the legacy of the oil and gas industry. I am excited that the opportunity for Ohio to add to the legacy has come around again.
Brian Mitchell is an independent contractor who works as a consultant for several drilling companies. He lives in Olathe, Colo.
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