We built our civilization on fossil fuels usage. They’ve been a reliable source of energy for centuries, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. In fact, there are many downsides to our reliance on oil and gas.
For one, the production of these fossil fuels is extremely damaging to the environment. The process of drilling for oil can cause pollution and habitat loss, while the burning of fossil fuels releases harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
What’s more, the oil and gas industry is notoriously unstable. Prices for these commodities can fluctuate wildly, and that can make it difficult for companies to plan for the future.
Despite all of these drawbacks, there are still many people who choose to pursue careers in the oil and gas industry. The truth is, it can be a very lucrative field. If you have the right skills and experience, you can make a lot of money working in this sector.
But there’s the other side of the coin: will there be enough jobs in the future for you? We’re trying to phase out fossil fuels hard (though oil is used in almost everything we use), so the industry might not have the same appeal in a few decades.
In this article, you are going to learn about the pros and cons of getting into the oil and gas industry. We’ll be as objective as possible, but know that it is such a heavily regulated industry that things could completely change any day.
Why Work in the Oil & Gas Industry?
Let’s start with the most classic question. Why bother with an industry that is likely to masively shrink in the future, and that is already a big object of hate? Plus, even if it still had a bright future, it’s not exactly the best field. It’s dirty work.
The hours are long, and working on oil rigs isn’t exactly fun. You’ll spend months away from home, and you’ll be working in some of the most remote (and dangerous) places on Earth. Even if nothing weird happens to you, you’ll be inhaling harmful chemicals all day.
So, why do it? Here are some reasons.
The Pros of Working in this Industry
Here are the main pros of working in the oil and gas industry:
- The money: It’s no secret that oil and gas companies tend to be very profitable. They make a lot of money, and that often trickles down to their employees. If you’re looking for a high-paying job, this industry is definitely worth considering. Another reason jobs in this field are so lucrative is that few people want to do them. The offer surpasses the demand. This happens because the work is often difficult, dangerous, and dirty.
- The skills: The skills you learn working in the oil and gas industry can be applied to other sectors. For instance, if you’re a geologist, your skills would be transferable to mining. If you’re an engineer, you could work in construction or manufacturing. The point is, the skills you learn in this industry are valuable, and they can help you get your foot in the door of other industries.
- The adventure: If you’re looking for an exciting career, oil and gas is definitely the way to go. It’s a fast-paced industry with plenty of opportunities to travel. In fact, you will most likely travel around the country. You could find yourself working on rigs all over the world.
- The opportunities: The oil and gas industry is always changing. That means there are plenty of opportunities for career growth. If you’re willing to put in the work, you could rise up through the ranks quickly.
A career in these industries is definitely not for everyone. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision. In the next section, we’ll take a look at some of the drawbacks of working in this field.
The Cons of Working in this Industry
There are cons to working in the oil & gas field too. In fact, for most people, these are not worth the effort, which is why there is a shortage of workers in the field. Here are the main cons:
- Instability: As we mentioned before, oil and gas production is notoriously unstable. Prices for these commodities fluctuate constantly, which can make it difficult for companies to plan for the future. This instability often leads to job losses. When prices drop, the first thing oil and gas companies do is lay off workers. This can leave you without a job suddenly, and it can be very difficult to find work in this industry if you don’t have connections.
- Challenging work: The work itself is very challenging. As we mentioned, you’ll be working long hours in difficult and dangerous conditions. If you’re not used to this kind of work, it can be tough to adjust. Also, you’ll be spending months away from home, which can be tough on your personal life.
- Health hazards: Another big downside of working in this industry is the health hazards. You’ll be exposed to harmful chemicals, and you could suffer from respiratory problems or other health issues as a result.
- Environmentally unfriendly: The oil and gas industry is not very environmentally friendly. If you’re concerned about climate change, this might not be the right industry for you. After all, you’ll be directly contributing to the problem if you work in this field. Additionally, governments can put you out of work by signing a piece of paper. Hardly a desirable prospect.
So, there you have it. These are some of the pros and cons of working in the oil and gas industry. It’s important to carefully consider all of these factors before making a decision about your career.
Editor’s note: we already had papers about how the oil & gas industry should restructure itself to remain competitive in 2010. Now, with the incoming extra regulations and removal of subsidies, it’s likely these challenges will grow exponentially. It’s likely that it will become progressively harder to keep a job in the industry, as we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. This is very important if you’re looking for a long-term career path.
Let’s say you think this is the right career path for you, what kind of jobs could you do? And how do you actually get in?
Jobs in the Oil & Gas Industry
There are a few different types of jobs in the oil and gas industry. Some of these will require higher education and/or special training, while others will not.
If you don’t have any experience or education in the oil and gas industry, you could start off as a roustabout. Roustabouts do a variety of manual labor tasks, such as cleaning and maintaining equipment, moving supplies, and assisting other workers.
You’ll basically be the grunt, of the operation, but this is a good way to get your foot in the door. And, if you prove yourself to be a hard worker, you could be promoted to a higher position.
Despite being an entry position, it’s still quite lucrative all things considered. The median yearly salary for roustabouts is $44,730. Beats working at McDonalds for minimum wage.
Rotary Drill Operator
Also known as a “roughneck,” this is one of the most common entry-level jobs in the oil and gas industry. As a rotary drill operator, you’ll be responsible for operating the equipment that drills the holes for oil and gas wells.
The great thing about this job is that, even if, say, the government shuts down your drilling site, you can easily be relocated in a different place. Or change field completely. In fact, most rotary drill operators work in the mining industry, not the oil & gas one. You will never be out of a job as a rotary drill operator. However, a rotary drill operator in the mining industry earns on average $5 less per hour compared to the same worker in the oil & gas field. This discrepancy causes a difference of almost $10,000 in yearly salary.
A geologist is someone who studies the earth’s surface. They look for areas that are rich in minerals and oil, and they help to plan where drilling should take place. If you’re interested in this job, you’ll need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in geology.
Your daily work as a geologist in the oil & gas industry will consist of field work (i.e. visiting drilling sites), office work (i.e. analyzing data), and report writing.
The median salary for a geologist is $83,860 per year, making it one of the highest-paying jobs in the oil & gas industry. However, accurate salary data is hard to come by. The Bureau of Labor Statistics considers all sort of geologists in its calculation. So, the true figure is probably lower.
However, geologists can easily switch path and work in fields other than the oil & gas industry. That means you can always find a job, even if the oil & gas industry is in decline.
If you want to make the big bucks, you’ll need to become a petroleum engineer. Petroleum engineers develop plans for extracting oil and gas from deposits deep below the earth’s surface. They also find new ways to extract these resources, as well as ways to improve current methods.
You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering to become a petroleum engineer. And, preferably, a master’s degree or higher.
You’ll be responsible for a lot of important work, such as creating computer models to find the best way to extract oil and gas, overseeing drilling operations, and testing new equipment.
The median salary for a petroleum engineer is $130,850 per year. And the top earners in this field make over $186,000 per year. And don’t get swayed by all the climate change regulations. The truth is that we will still extract petroleum, even when we manage to go full electric. That’s because we use oil and gas for much more than just powering our cars.
Also Read: 8 Highest Paying Engineering Degrees: How to Secure a Lucrative Career in Engineering
Petroleum Pump System Operator
As a petroleum pump system operator, you’ll be responsible for operating and maintaining the equipment that pumps oil and gas from wells. This is an important job, as it helps to ensure the smooth running of operations.
You’ll need at least a high school diploma to become a petroleum pump system operator. And, preferably, some experience working with pumps.
The median salary for a petroleum pump system operator is $80,500 per year.
The Future of the Oil & Gas Industry
Getting into the oil & gas industry sounds like a gamble. After all, we care more about climate now than at any point in history. And that means the oil & gas industry is in decline. We’re slowly moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources.
With all the uncertainty about the industry’s future, is it a good idea to get into it now? The answer is, it depends.
If you’re interested in a job that is high-paying and has good job security, then the oil & gas industry is a good choice. For example, jobs like rotary drill operator and petroleum engineer are in demand and will probably always be needed, even as the industry declines. You can always switch field, from oil & gas to mining. We will never stop mining the earth for resources.
Another situation in which getting into this industry makes sense if you’re just looking for a temporary job to make some money and then move on. For example, if you’re fresh out of college and looking for a job that will help you pay off your student loans, then the oil & gas industry is worth considering. Just know that it’s not a stable industry and that you’ll need to have a plan for what you want to do next.
The oil & gas industry is a great choice for people who are looking for a high-paying job with good job security. However, it’s not a stable industry, so if you’re just looking for a long-term career, you might want to consider another industry. The future of the oil & gas industry is uncertain, but it will probably always play a role in our lives, even as we move towards renewable energy sources. However, when we reach that point the demand for workers will most likely be too low to justify getting into the industry.
Only you can decide if getting into the oil & gas industry is the right choice for you. Consider your goals and what you want to achieve in your career. If the oil & gas industry aligns with your goals, then go for it! Just be aware of the risks involved and always have a plan B.