America's energy boom is changing the global landscape. This year America will be the world's top producer of total hydrocarbons. Within a few short years, we will be the number one oil producer in the world.
The boom has fueled a 41% increase in the nation's energy workforce since the end of the Great Recession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. Currently, the industry supports about 2.1 million jobs, but it is expected to create another 1.1 million jobs by the end of the decade. This one industry could be the single largest jobs engine in the years ahead. Here is a look at three unique job opportunities that the industry is expected to create in the coming years.
Engineering an opportunity
The big problem is that oil and gas producers face a real shortage of talent. That problem, however, spells opportunities for future job seekers. One opportunity, for example, is that the employment of petroleum engineers is expected to grow by 5,000 or 17% from 2010 to 2020 according to the BLS. While that might not sound like a lot of jobs, these do pay well over $100,000 annually. The industry has a number of very specific employment opportunities like this that will need to be filled in the years ahead.
There are a variety of opportunities within the industry for petroleum engineers. At Chevron (CVX 5.61%), for example, its petroleum engineers work in three vital capacities. Production engineers at Chevron handle the daily management of oil and gas production and help to maximize its profitability. Meanwhile, a reservoir engineer will evaluate field performance opportunities to maximize the value of a field. Finally, those working in production operations at Chevron are responsible for implementing safe and environmentally sound practices in field operations. Chevron is just one of the many oil and gas companies that will be hiring engineers in the years ahead.
Another major opportunity for job seekers is the trend to focus on health, safety, and the environment within the industry. The concerns surrounding fracking as well as emissions and the safety of well workers has caused the industry to hire more HSE employees. The average HSE employee makes $84,599, though the range does vary. For example, environmental scientists and specialists make about $61,170 per year and those jobs are expected to grow by 19% by 2020.
HSE positions can be found directly with an oil-field service company like Schlumberger (SLB 6.68%) or could be with a government agency or environmental group. Schlumberger, for example, is currently seeking Environmental Solutions Specialists at all of its locations. This position assembles and installs environmental service equipment at a drill site and makes sure it's working properly. Meanwhile, an environmental specialist for another company or agency could be responsible for taking water or soil samples to ensure the environment around a drill site is unaffected by drilling operations.
Making tomorrow happen
We tend to think of oil and gas as yesterday's technology. The hope is that one day renewable energy will innovate oil and gas out of existence. While that day might come, it is still a long way off. In the meantime, the oil and gas industry is busy innovating to ensure it stays in business.
One way it's doing that is by embracing technology. ConocoPhillips (COP 7.46%), for example, was named a 2013 Business Technology Innovator and ranked second in the Information Week 500 ranking. The company is using technology to produce energy more efficiently. One recent example of this that the company worked to develop a customized software called PLOT. This increased the production at the wells that ConocoPhillips optimized by 5%.
ConocoPhillips and its industry peers will need IT personnel to drive business results. For example, there are opportunities to work on fast-paced commercial oil and gas trading systems, state-of-the-art imaging technologies, and seismic data collection tools. All of which are critical to helping companies like ConocoPhillips get more oil and gas out of the ground, with a focus on driving economics while at the same time being safe and environmentally responsible.
America's energy boom is the fuel that will create more than one million jobs before the end of the decade. The challenge is that these jobs require advanced skills and training. But for those who meet the challenge, the payday will be quite rewarding.
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