Oil and Gas Industry Career Trends

The oil and gas industry requires a wide range of professionals, tradespeople and semi-skilled workers to aid in the extraction of oil and gas, and with ongoing needs for energy, the career trend in the oil and gas industry is stable employment with some fluctuation between sites, such as offshore oil rigs and seasonal production.

Engineers and Professionals

The oil and gas industry depends on the expertise of petroleum, mechanical and chemical engineers, as well as geoscientists. A geoscientist determines where oil and gas can be recovered. Mechanical engineers oversee the design and maintenance of a facility. Chemical and petroleum engineers engage in the recovery and transport of oil and gas. All of these careers require four year degrees, as well as completion of professional licensing requirements, such as a year of experience as an engineer and the completion of a licensing examination. Many engineers will also pursue graduate education to further their careers to become executives and senior scientists.


Most technician positions require at least one to two years education in a post-secondary program. Careers in this area include instrumentation technicians, field technicians, draftspeople and lab technicians. There are internships available to students currently enrolled in these programs, so it is possible to work in the field while in school or during semester breaks. Many technicians can also find careers in sales and supply services, rather than working on the rigs or in the oil fields, leading to promotions and higher pay.


All oil and gas recovery facilities need computers to run the extraction machine and they need IT people to maintain the computers, networks and programs, both off-site and on-site. IT people can find opportunities in network security, network administration, writing programs for instrumentation and even designing video games to improve worker safety on the rigs.


Mechanics, welders, pipe fitters, plumbers, electricians, iron workers and millwrights can all find employment in oil and gas extraction facilities. There is a preference to hire experienced tradespeople, usually at the journeyman level. Like all oil and gas workers, tradespeople can work long hours and spend several weeks away from home while on shift at the extraction site.

Roughnecks and Others

A typical definition of a roughneck is a laborer that works on an oil rig. However, it can include many semi-skilled positions, such as driller, floor hand and tool pusher, and they can also assist the tradesmen, such as mechanics and welders, on site. Roughnecks perform some of the most physically demanding and dangerous labor on the rig. It is possible to work up through the ranks on the rig, leading to more responsibility and higher pay.

There are also careers as transporters, such as driving a wide variety of trucks or digging and drilling equipment on the site or to transport oil and gas to refineries or retail sales points.

Camps, rigs and other facilities will also have cooks, cleaners, medics, registered nurses and safety personnel. Many people have also made their careers or started their own businesses by supplying housing facilities and services to the rigs and oil fields. Eligibility for each position depends on your education and many of these jobs can be seasonal, with more position available in periods of higher production.