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U.S. Needs Oil Workers: A Focus On Scholarships, Apprenticeships & Other Tips

U.S. Needs Oil Workers: A Focus On Scholarships, Apprenticeships & Other Tips

U.S. Needs Oil Workers: A Focus On Scholarships, Apprenticeships & Other Tips

U.S. Needs Oil Workers: A Focus On Scholarships, Apprenticeships & Other Tips

Jul 15, 2016

When you’re talking 184 shale plays, 187 natural gas pipelines and 68 LNG terminals – you’re talking jobs.

The U.S. needs oil industry workers. And universities, technical colleges, trade schools, apprenticeship programs – even high school shale academies – are gearing up to keep pace with the industry’s demands.

In fact, new educational programs are cropping up everywhere, as are scholarships benefitting students preparing for future energy careers.

One such scholarship is awarded each year by LAGCOE’s Future Energy Professionals, a program that was created to attract professional capable talent within the oil & gas industry.

“The Future Energy Professionals Program was designed to grow an interest in STEM education and energy industry careers in order to continue to build a strong pipeline of future workforce, leaders and innovators for the energy industry,” said Angela Cring, LAGCOE Executive Director.

LAGCOE, an acronym for Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition, is one of the country’s largest bi-annual oil and gas shows. The scholarship is available to students pursuing a STEM education at a traditional 4-year Louisiana university or 2-year/technical Louisiana college. Scholarship candidates also must participate in a Future Energy Professionals program tour.

One of the Future Energy Professionals Program 2016 scholarship recipients was David LaCour, who plans to attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, LA, to study petroleum engineering.

“Working in the oil and gas industry will allow me to be close to home, near the support of my loved ones, while helping to change our future,” LaCour said.

Another recipient was Drake Bergeron, a recent graduate of Ovey Comeaux High School in Lafayette. Bergeron also will be attending the University of Louisiana, pursuing a degree in chemical engineering.

“I decided to major in Chemical Engineering because I appreciate the versatility of the degree. In pursuing this, I am providing myself the best means of accomplishing my goals, which are to create safer, more environmentally and economically friendly methodologies, to build the reputation of the oil and natural gas industry as a result thereof, and to pioneer innovative equipment conducive to optimizing the output of clean energy sources,” Bergeron said.

Recent high school grads Laura Manuel and Cornelius Broussard also received scholarship awards this year from LAGOE’s Future Energy Professionals Program. Manuel will pursue a civil engineering degree and Broussard will focus on electrical engineering.

LAGCOE will host its next exposition at the Cajundome & Convention Center in Lafayette, LA, Oct. 24-26, 2017.

The long-term outlook for oil and gas careers is excellent. As the world’s need for energy continues to grow and the industry “crew change” takes place, with large numbers of older employees retiring, the need for a strong industry workforce is critical.

In an industry where a few years of crucial experience or training translates into great opportunities and career advancement, how does one get started?

An apprenticeship could be the answer. Apprenticeships are starting to gain favor in the US. Many technical colleges partner with the business community to set up apprenticeships that result in great on-the-job experience. New apprentices can see their skills and income grow because of the on-the-job and in-school technical training they receive.

A new apprentice can earn while learning through a partnership with their employer or sponsor.

Others may choose to enter the oil and gas industry through entry-level or technical positions. Many skills transfer to oil and gas. Technical or safety-related certifications could also strengthen your position as a candidate. In addition to technical skills, employers also look for problem-solving and communication skills, attention to detail and the ability to work well in a team environment.

Online job searches provide a glimpse into the industry’s current job offerings and pay scales.

Welders/fitters are going in at $67,000 to $87,000 annually with benefits, according listings on Land drill rig positions, which include everything from crew hands to hydraulics technicians, are listed from $27 an hour, upward. Many companies with listings on the site offer training on the job.

A two-year degree in engineering technology, construction management, welding, and many other fields are often beneficial in obtain an oil industry job. However, direct mechanical or technical experience on the job will often trump degree requirements

A bachelor-of-science or graduate degree opens the door to higher-level positions. If you plan to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher, industry insiders say to consider an engineering major. As engineering talent continues to be in high demand and is well- compensated. A degree in Petroleum, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical or Chemical Engineering or in Geology or Geophysics are good choices.

Oil industry positions are available onshore and offshore. Usually, offshore jobs are better compensated because of the experience and knowledge required to obtain them. Some view offshore work as more hazardous, and the routine shift work requires extended time away from home. That said, the compensation and advancement opportunities are often very appealing.