How Many Jobs Are Available In Oil & Gas Production

Summary

The oil and gas industry employs millions of people in the United States, as it keeps many of our essential services running. There are a variety of white-collar jobs available in the sciences, such as physics and engineering, although soft-skilled jobs are also available. In addition, there are several well-paying blue-collar jobs available in machine operations, oil rig services, and transportation.

If the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in March of 2022 taught us anything, it’s that oil and gas are still essential to keep our systems running. In a globalized world in which economics are interconnected through trade, oil and gas are here to stay for the near future, and the jobs available reflect that thesis.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that on a global scale, there are 6 million jobs available directly in the petroleum industry, and another 60 million jobs in related fields. There is a multitude of jobs, many with high salaries, for workers who wish to dip their toes into this industry. White-collar jobs are plentiful and include engineers and geologists, among other positions. Blue-collar jobs are also widely available for prospective candidates and include jobs such as truck driver and rig worker. Below, we will go over some of the most common and the most coveted jobs in the oil and gas production industry.

Jobs available in oil and gas extraction and production

Whether you want to focus on the oil extraction industry, the natural gas extraction industry, or other fossil fuel-related industries, there are plenty of options available. The same goes for gas and oil production after they have been extracted from the ground. The economic impact of the oil and gas industry is so vast that it comes with some of the best salaries and labor income out of any industry in existence. Here are some of the blue-collar and white-collar jobs that are available in the oil and gas industry.

Geologist

As oil and gas are extracted from various locations with different topographical challenges, a geologist is always in high demand. A geologist can help explain the challenges the terrain presents in developing and maintaining a rig. This is especially crucial in the world of fracking, where companies dig far below the earth and try to break up rock formations holding oil and gas.

Average salary: $60,000-$175,000

Hydraulic engineer

The United States became the world’s largest energy exporter thanks to the fracking revolution. With fracking, companies shoot extremely high-pressure water underneath the earth to break up rock and sediment and extract oil. This is a delicate process, and a hydraulic engineer is key to making sure that the water is at the right pressure and on the right path. A hydroelectric engineer works with drilling engineers to make sure things go according to plan.

Average salary: $60,000-$300,000

Supply chain management

These professionals manage the acquisition and distribution of materials and equipment needed for oil and gas production. They may be responsible for sourcing suppliers, negotiating contracts, and coordinating logistics.

Average salary: $70,000-$120,000

Petroleum production engineer

Production engineers are responsible for supervising and improving production at the plants and refineries where crude oil and petroleum are turned into the final product. The oil that is extracted from the ground goes through a variety of distilling processes before it turns into more consumable forms, such as gasoline. A production engineer makes sure that there are no hiccups in the final distillation processes, among others, and ensure that the gas you put in your car is up to snuff.

Average salary: $55,000-$175,000

Some of these jobs may require specialized degrees. If you’re thinking about going back to school, explore your options for student loans.

Drilling and well services

These professionals work on drilling rigs to extract oil and gas from the ground. They may be responsible for operating and maintaining drilling equipment, setting up drilling rig structures, and overseeing the drilling process.

Average salary: $40,000-$100,000

Reservoir engineering

These engineers design and implement plans for maximizing oil and gas production from reservoirs. They may also be involved in developing new technologies for improving production efficiency.

Average salary: $40,000-$100,000

Land management

Land management professionals manage the acquisition, development, and disposal of land and mineral rights for oil and gas production. They may also be responsible for negotiating leases and contracts with landowners.

Average salary: $80,000-$150,000

Health, safety, and environmental management

Health & safety & environmental managers develop and implement policies and procedures to ensure the safety of workers and the environment during oil and gas production. They may also be responsible for complying with relevant regulations and conducting risk assessments.

Average salary: $70,000-$120,000

Operations management

These professionals oversee the daily operations of oil and gas production facilities. They may be responsible for managing budgets, implementing processes to improve efficiency, and ensuring that production targets are met.

Average salary: $70,000-$120,000

 

Financial controller

Oil companies are behemoths, and they need someone to manage their money and assets. For someone with a finance or accounting degree that doesn’t want to work in the banking industry, this is a great option. Not only does a financial controller need to understand the ins and outs of how the finances of companies work, but they also need to understand concepts such as the risk of exchange rates on different currencies. As oil is found all over the world, an understanding of how finance and currency work on an international level is a must.

Average salary: $80,000-$425,000

Human resources manager

No, oil and gas production does not only have jobs related to the sciences and finance; soft skills are also needed. A good HR manager that can hire the best people to make the company work smoothly is a priceless commodity. People skills and the ability to handle administrative tasks are key for those looking to pursue an HR manager position in the oil and gas production space.

Average salary: $60,000-$150,000

A brief history of the oil and gas industry

Although the Chinese have been drilling oil wells for various uses since 347 AD, the modern usage of oil and gas to produce energy dates back to 1847. A Scottish chemist named James Young discovered that petroleum was seeping from an existing mine and noticed that after it seeped, what was left was a light oil. Young spotted the oil and figured it could be used for lamps and possibly lubrication. His discovery proved correct, and he eventually used this discovery to start the first oil refinery in human history, turning him from a chemist to the world’s first “chemical engineer.” Young’s happenstance discovery echoes throughout government, commerce, and geopolitics to this day.

Oil rig worker

It used to be that oil rig workers were known as a well-paid but scruffy bunch living in West Texas. These days, oil rig workers can be as clean-cut as your lawyer and financial accountant. That doesn’t mean the job is not demanding, though. Oil rig workers are responsible for the manual labor involved in maintaining and installing the rig. This can consist of climbing on rigs and pipes in uncomfortable positions. There may also be travel involved or time spent on an isolated oil rig.

Average salary: $35,000-$100,000

Forklift/crane operator

A forklift operator, crane operator, or someone that can operate machinery used in jobs like construction and industrial production is always in need. If you worked a crane on a construction site or drove a forklift at a warehouse before, your skills will be desirable in the oil and gas industry. You might find that the oil and gas industry pays significantly better than wherever you were working before.

Average salary: $36,000-$80,000

Surveyor

Oil and gas surveyors scour the globe for suitable oil drilling spots, and you don’t need a college degree to be one. You do, however, need a basic understanding of general terrain as well as an understanding of offshore drilling and sea beds. A surveyor will go into a location where oil and gas have been detected and start looking for the best locations to drill down and extract oil.

Average salary: $35,000-$100,000

Truck driver

Someone needs to drive petroleum, oil, or the finished product to various points in the production process. The only way they can facilitate this is to hire the most able and willing truck drivers to drive the product around. You will learn how to operate trucks specially designed for oil transportation and fill out various paperwork related to oil and gas transportation.

Average salary: $40,000-$105,000

Pro Tip

Not only are truck drivers needed but if you have experience operating cargo boats, then you will find that these types of jobs are also in demand. Oil moves on large oil tankers and ships throughout the world, and those who know how to operate this one-of-a-kind machinery will always be in demand.

Elevator operator

Elevators are needed for both the rigs and, in some cases, the post-drilling production process. The National Association of Elevator Contractors has a training program that takes four years but can be completed for as little as $16,000. The top 10% of elevator operators will earn over $100,000 a year if they focus on the oil and gas production industry.

Average salary: $40,000-$120,000

More job opportunities

Ready to make a career move? Find out how many jobs are available in other industries, including real estate investment trusts, capital goods, industrial machinery, and some of the most high-paying jobs. Or, if you’re already happy in your career, you can explore side jobs to help you bring in a little extra cash.

FAQ

How many people are employed in the oil and gas industry?

According to the ILO, there are 6 million direct jobs and 60 million indirect jobs related to the oil and gas industry. In the U.S., there are approximately 6-10 million people employed in this industry or related fields.

Is oil & gas production a good career path?

Yes, even with all of the volatility in the energy field, it’s still one of the highest-paying industries. You can also travel all around the globe to different rigs if you want to work directly in oil extraction.

Is it hard to get a job in the oil field?

As the industry has some of the highest-paying jobs for both white-collar and blue-collar workers, it can be competitive. However, as long as you have an applicable skill or can perform manual labor well and consistently, there should be an opportunity for you to find a job.

What should I study for oil and gas?

It depends on the type of job you want to do. You might want to study hydraulic engineering, geology, or chemistry. Or, if you want to work a more physical job, you may want to attend a trade school to learn about operating machinery.

What percentage of Americans work in oil and gas?

According to the American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry employs 9.8 million people and makes up 5.6% of total U.S. unemployment.

Key takeaways

  • There are a variety of blue-collar and white-collar jobs available to people in the oil and gas industries, from scientists and engineers to oil rig operators and truck drivers.
  • According to the ILO, there are 6 million direct jobs and 60 million indirect jobs worldwide in oil and gas. The API estimates that in the U.S., there are about 10 million jobs related to oil and gas.
  • Fields of study such as engineering, sciences, and finance are gateways to good jobs in the oil and gas industry.
  • Well-paying jobs such as truck driving or surveying are available for blue-collar workers.
View Article Sources
  1. How Many Jobs Has the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Created? – American Petroleum Institute
  2. Oil and Gas Production – International Labour Organization
  3. 15 Best Paying Jobs in the Energy Industry – SuperMoney
  4. What Companies are in the Energy Field in 2022? – SuperMoney
  5. Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities in 2022 – SuperMoney