Coming into North Dakota oil jobs
Certainly one of the most challenging things that I have done in my life was leaving behind my family and friends at home for the first time and moving out to a new job in the oilfield, although it might not make sense to a lot of people who either grew up with oil in their lives or the ones that have not left to seek a new, high paying job yet. Personally, I made the change because of the lack of career options in my part of the world, and the extremely high paying entry level jobs that the North Dakota oilfield offered couldn’t be beat for someone who was 18 and had their sights on one thing and one thing only, money.
Looking back now, cannot say that it was a poor decision. I am still employed in oil and gas, currently for one of the major energy companies in North Dakota and make a very high income, although there are sacrifices that all of us out here have made. I have missed nearly every birthday, anniversary, or holiday in my adult life. As with most, I have lost relationships to the oilfield, which seems to be a staple of this industry for most. I hope that not everyone has to make these choices, but for those of you that need to make that change, the oilfield is hard to beat for its job and career options.
For those of you who are taking that step at a young age, I hope that some of the things that you will learn on this website can help point you in a better path than most have chosen in their younger years. Most younger men coming out to the oilfields have never really been away from home, and are just happy to be free and have money, and it does claim lives. The best advice that most can give to a younger person coming in is to save your money, set goals, and don’t get sucked into the typical traps that most do. There so many pitfalls that can come from oil towns that it would take forever just to list them, and it comes down to the person and their will.
None of this is meant to intimidate or cause fear, only to give people a real world look beyond what is often advertised about these jobs. They are not easy, they are not always fun, they can change your life for the better or the worse, but if you don’t respect them they can take your life away.
For someone who is thinking about taking that step from a different position in life, with a wife and kids potentially, you should know a few things. Days off are scheduled, don’t mix your personal life with work, and set a goal and work towards that if you want to go back to a life where you can go home every night. You will miss almost everything that was listed at the top of this page, as I have. Depending on your situation it could be a small price to pay to not lose your house, or to build a college education.
Enough of the potential pitfalls of the oil life, on to the good stuff and how we all end up getting into these positions, and what you can expect when you get into the North Dakota oil and gas industry:
Depending on your experience, and what you are willing to do for a job, there are so many possible options for jobs. There are some jobs that essentially transfer over.
If you have a license to drive tractor trailers, maybe you want to get into driving vacuum trucks, water trucks, hydro-vac’s, hauling materials, moving oil from oil batteries, delivering fuel to rigs and construction sites, machinery or modules. I will get into this more in future posts about these jobs specifically later, but its just to give you an idea.
For a carpenter, there are typically the openings for scaffolders and masonry work, setting up and tearing down work camps, and more general construction work in oilfield facilities like refineries.
If you are a metalworker such as a welder, you can look towards pipeline welding, although many of these jobs typically require you to have a rig welding truck. There are many opportunities for welders in shops that supply rig mats, prefabricated piping, machinery, compressors and things of the like. Most of these jobs are in towns though, which can require a little more overhead when compared to many of the camp options that are out there, but they do pay better as it is a skilled workers job.
With no experience or if you don’t (or cant) want to do any of the other jobs listed, there are still plenty of options for you as there was for me. If you can deal with long hours, harsher conditions, and longer periods away from home, one of the best options as far as income is a drilling rig. If that doesn’t appeal to you because of the lifestyle, construction companies, pipelines, a swamper for machinery and trucks, or general laboring might be the better option.
Remember that this kind of work requires a amazing number of people, and that there are always openings. Sometimes the best thing you can do is jump head first into something, try it out and get a pay-check. You just need to get your foot in the door, jobs tend to be easier to find as you meet people in this industry and they can be the best potential opportunity to get into a new job, or project that is just starting up.
You should always keep in mind that the oilfield might seem like a vast industry, but it can be extremely small at the same time. Never burn a bridge, you never know who will end up in a position that can make or break if you get a job or not.
Finally, North Dakota oil was made for those who are either coming into the oilfield for the first time and trying to find entry level jobs, all the way to those of us who have spent the majority if not all of their working life in the energy industry. We are working hard to give you the best possible experience and chance when finding a new career in the North Dakota oil and gas industry.
Good luck, and happy job hunting.