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Lucrative Careers Await in the Energy Industry
by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Air Force Reserve

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If you are a veteran seeking a civilian job in 2015, the Energy industry offers a variety of career choices in the new year and beyond.

For example, employment in the oil and natural gas industry is expected to grow “faster than the average for all occupations” through 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Up for grabs are numerous job opportunities that have matching skill sets to many military service occupations, say recruiters at leading companies.

“It is here in the United States that advanced exploration and production technologies have perhaps had their most dramatic effect in increasing oil and natural gas supplies. This growth brings tremendous job opportunities at a time when a large number of servicemen and women are leaving the military,” says Mark J. Szabo, Talent Acquisition Team Lead for Baker Hughes. The company, based in Houston, Texas, provides technology- and service-based solutions that enable oil and gas companies to bring safe, affordable energy to the world.

Economic trends are positive as well. Oil prices are likely to increase over time, as they have in the past. In addition, future demand for energy will likely cause natural gas prices to increase before 2022, according to the BLS.

“These expected price increases will support current and future exploration,” the BLS says. That, in turn, will fuel the need for geological and petroleum technicians, who are sometimes involved in ongoing production processes, such as monitoring a well’s productivity. They provide support to scientists and engineers in exploring and extracting natural resources, such as minerals, oil and natural gas. Employment of these technicians is expected to grow by 15 percent during the coming eight years.

Oil drilling operations will also become more complex, requiring more petroleum engineers. Job prospects are also highly favorable, because many engineers are expected to retire between now and 2022, the BLS says. Employment for them is projected to grow by 26 percent.

Additionally, BIC (Business & Industry Connection) Magazine has reported that a “growing supply of highly-affordable natural gas from shale formations” is boosting the petrochemical industry. Major investment activity is taking place on the Texas Gulf Coast, in areas such as the Houston Ship Channel, resulting in the potential creation of thousands of jobs if pending projects receive the green light from the EPA.

Szabo notes, “Some of the hottest opportunities include shale plays (a shale formation containing significant accumulations of natural gas and sharing similar geologic and geographic properties) at Permian, Bakken, Eagle Ford, Barnett, Marcellus and Huron.”

Strong Military Skills for a Strong Market
Recruiters in the oil and gas industry say many veterans waive lucrative career opportunities, erroneously thinking their military experiences and skills aren’t relevant.

But they couldn’t be more wrong. Michelle Williams is Halliburton’s Manager of Employer Branding and Supplier Management. Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oilfield service companies based in Houston, offers a broad array of services and products to upstream oil and gas customers worldwide.

“It’s a strong market specifically here in the U.S. and for Halliburton. As it relates to veterans, we’ve seen a lot of success for them when we look at the roles of military and our needs,” Williams says. “A lot of positions are out in the field and require different hours, schedules, commutes, and we’ve seen that someone coming with a profile from the military is used to that type of work and environment. It’s not as big as a shock for them as it is for others, and they transition well.”

Halliburton hired about 21,000 employees worldwide in 2014. “We’re looking at 2015 to be just as strong,” Williams says.

“If you have technical skills centering around mechanical and electrical experience, you’ll have success translating those into roles within our industry, whether it’s in the field, at the rig site, or places where we manufacture our own equipment,” Williams says. Some specific job examples at Halliburton are machine operator, electronics technician and warehousing roles.

And if you want to break into the industry and don’t have those skills? There are still opportunities for you.

“Typically, our operator assistant positions or service operator positions get you out into the field on the rig site and don’t require a lot of experience. A lot of it is on-the-job training. In addition, if you’re coming out of the military with specific experience of logistics or finance and accounting, this is a good industry for you, too,” Williams says.

The outlook is also bright at Baker Hughes, Szabo says. Recently, he testified before Congress that the company “has long sought veterans for our field work, where the value of their experience is apparent.” Mechanical assembly, repair and maintenance, field operations, machining and logistical coordination all fit within that category. In addition, the company seeks veterans “for all levels,” including in corporate and enterprise positions.

“My mission, and that of the entire Baker Hughes Military Recruiting Team, is to bring the immense talents and work ethic of our men and women in uniform to bear on energy production. This makes good business sense, and we also believe that welcoming our veterans home to meaningful, well-paid jobs is simply ‘the right thing to do,’” Szabo says.

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