While the entire oil and gas industry is reeling from the effects of the drop in oil prices, many individuals who have been the recipients of layoffs are left scrambling for jobs in a state of uncertainty. Oil and gas companies in North America have been laying off workers, cutting costs and suspending projects for several months now, with more anticipated until the market picks back up. However, despite some news reports and negative mindsets from some of the population, there are still oil and gas jobs available in North America. Are there a lot of people vying for these positions? Absolutely! But they’re here for the taking.
In 2014, there were 36,900 new positions added in the U.S. oil and gas industry alone, according to Rigzone’s 4Q Energy Trends Report. And there’s also some promising news for soon-to-be graduates: oil and gas extraction is expected to be the top-paying industry for Class of 2015 graduates with a bachelor’s degree, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) January 2015 Salary Survey.
Using Rigzone data, we’ve identified the jobs in highest demand in North America, based on the number of available positions. And it’s clear that positions in sales reign supreme.
“Oilfield service companies are still hiring for sales careers, especially people who can help grow revenue,” said Todd Bush, founder of Energent Group, a market research firm based in Houston, Texas which is focused on clients’ needs for oil and gas data and research products. “Despite the downturn, we continue to see on-the-ground data that backs up what we’ve seen in the past: top-notch sales people will always be in demand. An effective salesperson can mean the difference between landing an elusive exploration and production client and being stuck in procurement with no end sale in sight.”
According to Rigzone data, for the month of February, the O&G jobs in highest demand were in sales and marketing. Rigzone’s compensation survey published in August 2014 showed that positions in sales and marketing averaged $96,960 for the 1Q and 2Q of 2014.
“In all different jobs and positions, we’re seeing a push toward efficiency as everyone’s being squeezed. With salespeople and field techs/engineers, everyone we talk to is focused on being efficient with their relationships and time,” Bush said.
He offered the following example:
“Imagine driving from one end of Eagle Ford to the other – it’s 300 miles one-way and five hours billed to the company! The people most in demand now are those who are adopting new technologies – the best way to increase long-term efficiency – to demonstrate their expertise to clients. Coincidentally, this is great news for E&P companies. More efficient salespeople and field techs means less time spent in meetings, less time wasted on the job site and better supplier fit, possibly resulting in safer, less expensive and more efficient operations.”
According to Bush, those in field sales can make between $50,000 and $90,000 per year; regional sales managers between $80,000 and $100,000; account managers between $90,000 and $150,000; and those in executive sales can make upward of $125,000.
Rounding out the top 10 jobs in highest demand for the month of February are:
- Mechanical Engineer – Most mechanical engineers work in professional office settings, but at times, travel is required to visit manufacturing sites or customers’ offices. Note: Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines and those looking to land a job as a mechanical engineer need to possess a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree is typically needed to advance.
- Earnings Potential: Rigzone’s compensation survey found that mechanical engineers averaged $101,292 for the first half of 2014. On average, mechanical engineers in oil and gas extraction make $160,450 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
- Production Operator – One of the main job functions of a production operator is to monitor equipment during operations. They should also pay attention to detail and be able to troubleshoot problems that may arise from equipment operations.
- Earnings Potential: Some of the top-paying industries for jobs as a production operator are Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution; Natural Gas Distribution; and Pipeline Transportation of Crude Oil with average salaries being $71,790; $69,620; and $63,770 respectively (source: BLS). According to Rigzone’s compensation survey, on average, production operators made $76,852 in the first half of 2014.
- Technical Sales – A technical sales representative is involved in the selling of products or services to technology or manufacturing firms. Because the position usually involves highly complex products, technical sales representatives are expected to have a thorough understanding of the products they are selling. Note: A background in sales and marketing is ideal for this position due to the complex nature of the products being sold.
- Earnings Potential: The national average salary for technical sales is $89,020, according to Glassdoor, although BLS lists average annual wages at $105,080.
- Maintenance Technician – This position is suited well for individuals who possess good practical skills and who are problem-solvers. Work for maintenance technicians could fall into either preventive (planned) maintenance or emergency maintenance.
- Earnings Potential: Payscale lists the salary for maintenance technicians as being between $24,000 and $58,000 with factors such as employer, geography and experience affecting pay.
- Electrical Engineer – Electrical engineers are responsible for designing, maintaining, implementing and improving electrical instruments and equipment. Note: You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to land a job as an electrical engineer in O&G.
- Earnings Potential: According to BLS, the average annual wage for all electrical engineers is $93,380, with those in oil and gas exploration averaging $118,680 per year.
- QA/QC/Inspection – While Quality Assurance (QA) involves – process-oriented – making sure you’re doing the right things the right way, Quality Control (QC) is product-oriented (i.e. testing). Quality control inspectors examine products and materials for defects or deviations from specifications. Note: While you may obtain a job as a QA/QC Inspector with a high school diploma, a college degree is sometimes needed, depending on your employer.
- Earnings Potential: According to Payscale, the average salary for QA/QC Inspectors is $49,536.
- Project Management – Project managers are responsible for overseeing designated projects for the company. Key components of this position include planning and developing strategies; coordinating and assigning tasks to the project team; managing the budget and timeline for the project; and solving problems as they arise by providing solutions and implementing necessary changes. Note: Project management is especially important in oil and gas, given the current state of the industry, with many projects put on hold. Once the market picks back up, companies may look to hire project managers to handle some of the delayed projects.
- Earnings Potential: Engineering project managers, on average, earn $83,890 per year, according to Payscale.
- Accounting or Finance – Those who enjoy working with numbers will fare well in accounting and finance jobs in the oil and gas industry.
- Earnings Potential: According to BLS, accountants and auditors in oil and gas extraction average 79,550 per year while financial analysts average $96,800 per year. However, Rigzone’s compensation survey shows that O&G jobs in accounting/finance averaged $74,221 in the first half of 2014.
- Process Engineer – By evaluating efficiency, quality and safety of the process any product goes through before being available to consumers, process engineers are a valuable asset to a company.
- Earnings Potential: Payscale lists the average yearly salary for a process engineer as $70,064 while Glassdoor lists the national average as $88,382.