Is Oil And Gas Production A Good Career Path? (20 Jobs In Oil And Gas Production: Best-Paying + Entry-Level)

By Di Doherty
Jun. 6, 2022
Career Paths

Oil and gas production is a huge industry in the United States and worldwide. It results in a lot of skilled jobs, both ones that require a college degree and ones that don’t. So whether you’re interested in further study or getting right into your career, oil and gas production has options.

Here are 19 Great Jobs in Oil and Gas Production

  1. Natural Gas Trader Jobs (Overview)

  2. Petroleum Engineer Jobs (Overview)

  3. Process Engineer Jobs (Overview)

  4. Mechanical Engineer Jobs (Overview)

  5. Petroleum Geologist Jobs (Overview)

  6. Natural Gas Engineer Jobs (Overview)

  7. Tool Pusher Jobs (Overview)

  8. Landman Jobs (Overview)

  9. Environmental Compliance Specialist Jobs (Overview)

  10. Oil Truck Driver Jobs (Overview)

  11. Petroleum Refinery Operator Jobs (Overview)

  12. Oil Fire Specialist Jobs (Overview)

  13. Floor Hand Jobs (Overview)

  14. Welder Jobs (Overview)

  15. Process Technician Jobs (Overview)

  16. Roustabout Jobs (Overview)

  17. Petroleum Inspector Jobs (Overview)

  18. Safety Officer Jobs (Overview)

  19. Oiler Jobs (Overview)

The entire process of oil and gas production is very complex, meaning that there are a lot of parts to it. You can be involved with pulling the oil from the ground, refining it, or even searching for the right place to drill. This means that there are a wide variety of workers in the industry with myriad different backgrounds.

10 of the Best Paying Jobs in Oil and Gas Production

As with almost every industry, the better-paid people have higher education. It’s not quite true one hundred percent of the time, but the majority of the higher-paid jobs in oil and gas production are going to require a college degree.

  1. Natural Gas Trader

    Average Annual Salary: $103,000

    This job doesn’t have very much to do directly with production. Natural gas traders watch the commodities market, making trades based on production and expected demand.

    They have to balance the buying process – this means they must not buy too much, which their customers won’t be able to consume – or too little. They’re also expected to get their customers the best price they can.

    Find Natural Gas Trader jobs near me

  2. Petroleum Engineer

    Average Annual Salary: $92,000

    Petroleum engineers devise the best and most effective way to remove oil from the ground. They keep abreast of new technologies as well as new techniques to see if they should be applied to the extraction process. Some are expected to monitor equipment as well, making sure that it’s correct and properly maintained.

    Find Petroleum Engineer jobs near me

  3. Process Engineer

    Average Annual Salary: $81,000

    This job isn’t specific to oil and gas but more to general manufacturing. Process engineers work to make the manufacturing process better. They have to have knowledge of their industry, as well as the processing techniques used.

    Find Process Engineer jobs near me

  4. Mechanical Engineer

    Average Annual Salary: $79,000

    A mechanical engineer is useful in almost any industry. They work with machines in order to make them as safe, efficient, and effective as possible. Oil and gas production is completely reliant on heavy machinery, making mechanical engineers a must.

    Find Mechanical Engineer jobs near me

  5. Petroleum Geologist

    Average Annual Salary: $86,000

    The geology of an area determines how likely there is oil or gas to extract. Petroleum geologists specialize in knowing the areas that are most likely to have oil and gas, as well as whether or not that oil and gas are accessible. They need a strong understanding of geology, as well as what the extraction equipment can and can’t do.

    Find Petroleum Geologist jobs near me

  6. Petroleum Analyst

    Average Annual Salary: N/A

    Analysts’ jobs are based on numbers. Petroleum analysts work much more on the business side of the oil and gas industry, working on pricing and production costs.

    They study how much it costs to remove and refine the product, then how high demand is. From these calculations, they come up with pricing in order to keep the company profitable.

  7. Natural Gas Engineer

    Average Annual Salary: $78,000

    A natural gas engineer’s duties are very similar to petroleum engineer’s, save for their specialty. Extracting natural gas is similar to oil, but not the same.

    They understand the different requirements for extracting a gas rather than a liquid, as well as the different equipment. They determine the safest and most efficient way to extract and store natural gas.

    Find Natural Gas Engineer jobs near me

  8. Tool Pusher

    Average Annual Salary: $120,000

    This is a management position. Tool pushers are in charge of the rig and all the people that work on it. Because of the high level of responsibility, they’re very well paid, but they work hard for it. They’re responsible for the equipment, personnel, and keeping everything running smoothly.

    Find Tool Pusher jobs near me

  9. Landman

    Average Annual Salary: $69,000

    A landman is someone who secures the right to extract oil from a property. They have to be familiar with laws and regulations and land management and be a good salesman. Many of them deal with private owners, but a fair amount of land is also leased from the government for petroleum extraction.

    Find Landman jobs near me

  10. Environmental Compliance Specialist

    Average Annual Salary: $56,000

    Someone with this title is responsible for making sure that the company meets the rules and regulations in terms of environmental requirements.

    They have to be familiar with that area of the law, along with the differences between states and localities. A knowledge of chemistry helps as well, as they often have to measure emissions and pollutants.

    Find Environmental Compliance Specialist jobs near me

The majority of these jobs require a college education as well as experience in the field. That’s why they’re higher paid and harder to get into. If you’re looking to get a start in the industry, then the jobs listed below would be a better bet.

10 Entry-Level Jobs in Oil and Gas Production

  1. Oil Truck Driver

    Average Annual Salary: $45,000

    This position is exactly what it sounds like. It requires a commercial driver’s license as well as the ability to keep up with paperwork and do basic maintenance on the truck. Most truckers work long, irregular hours, making it not a job for everyone. But because of that, they do relatively well for themselves.

    Find Oil Truck Driver jobs near me

  2. Petroleum Refinery Operator

    Average Annual Salary: $43,000

    A petroleum refinery worker is involved in the refinement process of petroleum. They operate the machinery that distills it into gasoline, kerosene, and oils. This job doesn’t require a college degree and is taught through on-the-job training. You need an understanding of the process and how to operate and maintain the machinery.

    Find Petroleum Refinery Operator jobs near me

  3. Oil Fire Specialist

    Average Annual Salary: $46,000

    Someone in this position is a specialized firefighter. Oil and gas fires are different than many other types of fires and are notoriously difficult to put out.

    So not only does someone in this role have to know about how to deal with that type of fire, they’re expected to be familiar with safety regulations and fire prevention.

    Find Oil Fire Specialist jobs near me

  4. Floor Hand

    Average Annual Salary: $51,000

    A floor hand usually works under the supervision of a driller, doing routine checks and maintenance. They do tasks as assigned. This is a very physically demanding job that’s often going to get you dirty, as well as being potentially dangerous. But the floor hand is the lowest level position on a rig, meaning it’s the best way to get started in the industry.

    Find Floor Hand jobs near me

  5. Welder

    Average Annual Salary: $38,000

    This is a skilled trade that is essential in most oil fields and rigs. Welders weld pipe and other metal objects together. Having someone who can weld on hand is especially important on offshore rigs, as being able to get other workers out there isn’t always possible.

    Welders sometimes apprentice, but many trade and vocational schools have classes to teach you how to weld.

    Find Welder jobs near me

  6. Process Technician

    Average Annual Salary: $37,000

    A process technician makes sure that the manufacturing process runs smoothly. They maintain equipment and monitor the process to make sure that everything is working properly.

    Being able to test for quality is also required, as well as being able to alter the production to improve it (depending on circumstances). It’s a fast-paced, detail-oriented job.

    Find Process Technician jobs near me

  7. Roustabout

    Average Annual Salary: $37,000

    This job is a sort of jack of all trades. Roustables perform many different types of duties in an oil field, most of them unskilled labor. They are expected to do maintenance, as well as loading and unloading supplies as well as other miscellaneous duties.

    Find Roustabout jobs near me

  8. Petroleum Inspector

    Average Annual Salary: $43,000

    While many in the industry prefer petroleum inspectors to have experience in the industry, it isn’t required. A petroleum inspector’s job is to make sure that the petroleum is meeting industry and government standards. They test it for quality as well as file the appropriate paperwork and flag anything that doesn’t meet the standards.

    Find Petroleum Inspector jobs near me

  9. Safety Officer

    Average Annual Salary: $53,000

    Someone in this role is in charge of making sure that safety procedures and standards are followed. It generally requires a college degree in a related field. Safety is a major concern in the oil and gas industry, so having someone on hand to make sure regulations are followed is important.

    Find Safety Officer jobs near me

  10. Oiler

    Average Annual Salary: $46,000

    An oiler, sometimes also called a greaser, is in charge of making sure that the machinery is properly lubricated. They also take care of other basic maintenance tasks and make sure that the machinery is properly cared for. Heavy equipment is necessary for oil and gas production, meaning that people are required to maintain it.

    Find Oiler jobs near me

Why Choose a Career in Oil and Gas Production?

Oil and gas production is a major, wealthy industry. This means that there’s a lot of opportunity in the field. Though there have been some efforts to limit the use of gasoline, other petroleum products are going to continue to be in use, and the demand for natural gas hasn’t slowed.

It’s a demanding field, so it’s best to consider whether or not you have the following traits before deciding to pursue a career in the industry.

  • You enjoy hands-on experiences. Even in the more remote careers in this field, like petroleum engineering, it’s not uncommon for them to have to go to an oil field. If you work as a hand in the oil field, then you’re doing physical labor.

  • Working for a large company doesn’t bother you. While there’s nothing wrong with working for a huge organization, it has a very different feel than working for a smaller one.

    Most oil corporations are massive, and even if you don’t work for one, you’re likely to end up working for the government or a university, neither of which are known for being small.

  • You aren’t risk-averse. This doesn’t apply to every job in the industry; for instance, petroleum analysts don’t have a dangerous job. But many of the careers listed here require either doing manual labor near heavy machinery or at least being willing to go out and inspect it.

This is a demanding industry with risk attached to it. Because of that, many of the jobs are very well paid, even the ones that only require a high school diploma. However, the dangerous and demanding aspect of it isn’t for everyone. If the above qualities describe you, though, then it’s definitely an industry for you to consider.

Education and Certification Requirements for a Career in Oil and Gas Production

Many of the careers in the field don’t require more than a GED. However, if you’re interested in the engineering or more cerebral aspects of it, here are some degrees to consider.

  • Engineering. This is a more generic degree, but it can get you into various fields. If you want to specialize, you can do that too. For instance:

    • Petroleum engineering. If you want to be a petroleum or natural gas engineer.

    • Mechanical engineering. If you want to be a mechanical engineer.

  • Chemistry. This degree opens you up to all kinds of possibilities. It can help you to become a petroleum engineer or a process engineer, as well as an inspector.

  • Chemical Engineering. The same principles apply as above.

  • Petroleum Technology. This covers the gamut of what sorts of heavy equipment they use in the process and what technology goes into its manufacture and processing.

  • Mathematics. If you’re interested in being an analyst. It can also work for engineering.

Certifications are going to be based much more on what you’re interested in. If you want to be a safety officer, there are myriad safety certifications to look into. For many of the other jobs, certifications wouldn’t be necessary, but if you can find those that are specific to your area of expertise, they don’t hurt your career prospects.

Is Oil and Gas Production a Good Career Path?

Yes, oil and gas production is an excellent career choice. It’s a major and wealthy industry with myriad opportunities. Whether you’re interested in getting a higher degree or not, there are career options for you.

If you like working in an industry that has obvious impacts on the economy and people’s day-to-day lives, the petroleum industry does. We rely on petroleum and natural gas for transportation, heat, fuel, and many other products to make our lives easier.

If you’re willing to work hard and aren’t afraid of manual labor, then this industry is a good choice. Because it’s challenging and difficult, you’re well compensated for it, meaning that you’ll live well.

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Career Paths


Di Doherty

Di has been a writer for more than half her life. Most of her writing so far has been fiction, and she’s gotten short stories published in online magazines Kzine and Silver Blade, as well as a flash fiction piece in the Bookends review. Di graduated from Mary Baldwin College (now University) with a degree in Psychology and Sociology.

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