With the market value of a barrel of oil now past $80, traders and analysts are reasonably forecasting $100 around the bend. That means the industry is going to try to pick back up shortly. And as it does, a lot of young men especially are going to be looking long and hard at high-wage jobs aplenty to get to work helping drill, produce, and transport bubbling crude.
This coming May will mark 10-years of my working in the Oil & Gas industry. Allow me then to share a few lessons learned, particularly for any young bucks thinking of jumping in to get a piece of the high wages and excitement this sector has a reputation for.
O&G Lessons Learned
Lesson one, no job is worth your life. However much the paycheck is, you can only spend it if you are alive to spend it. So if the outfit you get on with is cutting corners and asking you to do things you are uncertain as to the safety and prudence of, find a new outfit if you cannot either get explanations for how to work safely or else tell them ‘No’ when they pressure you.
Lesson two, always be looking to the next bust. Every commodity price fluctuates with supply and demand, but nowhere is that true in a more consistently dramatic way than the oil and gas industry. Too many young bucks are so fixated on the boom when times are good, they cannot think ahead to the bust which invariably will come. But when the bust comes, what is arguably worse is that far too many more seasoned hands cannot think past the downturn into the next uptick. Either way, always keep in mind the varied and cyclical nature inherent to this industry and manage yourself accordingly.
Lesson three, spend within your means, keep your liabilities low, and save as much as you can when the wages are high and the overtime is plentiful. Invest yourself in having the ability to scale back or pivot into something different if you need to. This means having money squared away, not buying toys on credit, paying down debt in general, and also developing skills and habits that will translate into other sectors of the economy if you need to get out of O&G entirely at some point.
Keep your head on a swivel. Be sober and vigilant. Work hard and pray hard.
The economy runs on energy, and if you help deliver that energy when it is needed most you will be handsomely rewarded. But think and plan ahead, and be wise.
An old saying has proven true in my experience. The closer you are to the wellhead, the longer you will last. The highest wages and the greatest uncertainty lie in drilling and exploration, but the guys who operate the wells and pipelines will still have jobs when drilling periodically tapers off.
Above all, maintain your integrity and a good conscience, and trust the good Lord. However much or little money you make, your soul is worth infinitely more. And as Proverbs tells us, a good name is worth more than riches.
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