Photo credit: Flickr/photologue_np.

This year, oil and gas companies operating in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plan to hire at least 4,000 new employees. Available jobs range from engineering and construction to operations and maintenance, as well as positions in environmental health, safety, and administration. The problem is that these companies are often looking for qualified candidates, which are tough to find as so few have the technical experience these companies desire.

The good news is that because of the competition for qualified candidates, many companies are now looking to hire and train more local candidates. In fact, last year 96% of the new hires in the Marcellus and Utica were local candidates, as fewer experienced oil-field professionals are looking to relocate because of the oil and gas boom elsewhere in the United States. This is really good news for those looking for a job in the booming energy industry.

One company that's aggressively hiring in the region is Nuverra Environmental Solutions (NYSE:NES). The company was caught flat-footed last quarter as business grew faster than it expected. That situation forced the company to subcontract some of its work out, which hurt its profits. Now the company, according to CEO Mark Johnsrud, is "aggressively recruiting and hiring staff needed to expand our operations and meet the increased demands of our services." Anecdotally, I can attest to this. On a recent trip I saw a big billboard sponsored by the company that said it was hiring drivers for its water recycling business. (For those interested, Nuverra's career website is here.)

Another critical skill the energy industry requires is welding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of welders is expected to grow by 15% from 2010 to 2020. In fact, both direct and indirect welding jobs currently account for about 2 million jobs, or about 10% of the country's manufacturing workforce.

Oilfield service companies such as Weatherford (NYSE:WTI) and Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) are among the many companies in search of welders. The operations of both companies span the globe. Weatherford employs more than 58,000 in over 100 countries, while Halliburton has more than 75,000 employees spread around 80 countries. Both have solid long-term growth opportunities both here in the U.S. and abroad. (For those specifically interested in a welding career at either of these two oilfield service giants or one of the many other companies hiring welders, click here.)

A sign of a strong business or industry is one that's hiring. Currently, the oil and gas industry is one of the fastest growing in the country, thanks to the vast amounts of oil and gas now being unlocked with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. That means it's a great time to be not just a job seeker, but also an investor. The oil and gas sector really has the potential to be a very lucrative one for investors positioned to profit from this energy boom. 

Fool contributor Matt DiLallo owns shares of Nuverra Environmental Solutions. The Motley Fool recommends Halliburton, owns shares of Nuverra Environmental Solutions, and has options on Nuverra Environmental Solutions . Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.