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davev1977

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Hi, my wife and I live in Kentucky currently. I work as a geologist for a coal company, she's an elementary school special education teacher. I'm 31 years old, she's 27. We're thinking about moving to Houston where I'd like to work as a geologist/geophysicist for an oil company. I understand the opportunities are exceptional right now and I've been interested in that type of work since I was in school a couple of years ago. I'm hoping to hear from people who work in the petroleum industry, especially from geoscientists, who can give me some tips for landing a job and finding a good place to live. We'd be interested in a good child-friendly suburb like Sugar Land where the schools have good reputations and the commute is manageable (a relative proposition, I know). Is anyone out there who can offer some advice? I've done plenty of research on the major oil company websites but some insider information would be much appreciated! What is life like for those of you on the "inside"?? Also, can anyone suggest which companies are the most/least desirable to work for and why? Thanks!!

Edited by davev1977

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Best of luck, most are going through major reorganizations and only accepting "contract positions". That could mean working temp any where from 6 months to 5 years. It all depends on the individual. What works for a single man wont work for a couple and add children. Some can handle not having health insurance while some can while working contract. Not to discourage you but thats what has been accuring here with at least 4 major companies I know of and still speak to old coworkers/friends most barely clinging in to what they have. Keep trying you never know. Finally, always prepare yourself for a career change. Garner as much experience while at any major company so you can transition those skills to another career. You can get tons of advice on Yahoo Jobs, etc. Try www.LinkedIn.com you will be glad you did. :)

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I wouldn't worry too much about being contract. There are people that work their entire careers and prefer it that way. They just buy their own insurance. In the downstream engineering business you usually get a little higher pay rate as contract to make up for the benefits you give up.

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Best of luck, most are going through major reorganizations and only accepting "contract positions". That could mean working temp any where from 6 months to 5 years. It all depends on the individual. What works for a single man wont work for a couple and add children. Some can handle not having health insurance while some can while working contract. Not to discourage you but thats what has been accuring here with at least 4 major companies I know of and still speak to old coworkers/friends most barely clinging in to what they have. Keep trying you never know. Finally, always prepare yourself for a career change. Garner as much experience while at any major company so you can transition those skills to another career. You can get tons of advice on Yahoo Jobs, etc. Try www.LinkedIn.com you will be glad you did. :)

Thanks for the advice. I have joined LinkedIn.com and it looks like a useful tool. I've heard people say things similar to what you said, but only in regards to a few specific companies. The industry as a whole appears to be in good health. I'm in the coal industry and we have our ups and downs, too. What I'm hoping for is a good chance at a higher standard of living. For example, the town we live in is small. There isn't a great deal to do around here other than hunting/fishing/etc., which is fine, but I miss the variety of a bigger city (I grew up around Seattle). I also think the oil companies, being larger than our coal companies, offer a greater opportunity for upward mobility and a career that could expand my skill set and ultimately prove more satisfying. I don't know if this is true or not, I've never worked in such a big corporate environment. We really need to visit the Houston area and get a feel for the place. See what it would be like to live there, I suppose.

I wouldn't worry too much about being contract. There are people that work their entire careers and prefer it that way. They just buy their own insurance. In the downstream engineering business you usually get a little higher pay rate as contract to make up for the benefits you give up.

What percentage would you say works contract? And is it more common for certain companies or certain types of companies?

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Best of luck, most are going through major reorganizations and only accepting "contract positions". That could mean working temp any where from 6 months to 5 years. It all depends on the individual. What works for a single man wont work for a couple and add children. Some can handle not having health insurance while some can while working contract. Not to discourage you but thats what has been accuring here with at least 4 major companies I know of and still speak to old coworkers/friends most barely clinging in to what they have. Keep trying you never know. Finally, always prepare yourself for a career change. Garner as much experience while at any major company so you can transition those skills to another career. You can get tons of advice on Yahoo Jobs, etc. Try www.LinkedIn.com you will be glad you did. :)

you mean your friend/co-workers are barely hanging on to their geologists positions? there seems to be quite a demand for geologists and not enough supply.

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Our household has two residents geoscientists currently working for one of the major oil companies.

One of them tells me the big corporations tend to hire two types of geologists: those with advanced degrees in geology/geophysics, and those who have a lot of previous experience in the oil industry.

OP, I'm guessing you have a bachelor's degree? (please correct me if I'm wrong) The resident geoscientist says that if you're serious about getting in the door at one of the majors, look into going back to school and getting a Master's - preferably at a program that gets a lot of recruitment from oil companies.

Mind you, this is the way they got into the biz (PhD in a program that sends more than half of its grads to Big Oil), so there very well might be other avenues to employment.

As far as working for said Big Oil companies, it's treating them pretty well. The pay and benefits are great, but as with all jobs, working conditions are highly dependant upon the immediate supervisor and the group dynamics. The good thing is that in the big companies there are lots of groups from which to choose and lateral movement is not too difficult.

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I too am in the biz. I don't think it's nearly as dire as Vertigo suggests.

Lots of demand for engineers, drafsmen and measurement anlayst type folk. And once you add these types there is trickle-down in other departments.

And contract is cool if you ask me. We have one guy who has been contract seven years. They tried to convert him but he keeps saying no.

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For those with a degree in Finance. The specific oil company I was in needs you. This trend started a few years ago that I read and heard of. Finance. :D

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Best of luck, most are going through major reorganizations and only accepting "contract positions". That could mean working temp any where from 6 months to 5 years. It all depends on the individual. What works for a single man wont work for a couple and add children. Some can handle not having health insurance while some can while working contract. Not to discourage you but thats what has been accuring here with at least 4 major companies I know of and still speak to old coworkers/friends most barely clinging in to what they have. Keep trying you never know. Finally, always prepare yourself for a career change. Garner as much experience while at any major company so you can transition those skills to another career. You can get tons of advice on Yahoo Jobs, etc. Try www.LinkedIn.com you will be glad you did. :)

What kind of reorganizations are these companies going through? You would think that everyone in the oil industry would be doing extremely well right now and hiring left and right. What am I missing here?

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I too am in the biz. I don't think it's nearly as dire as Vertigo suggests.

Lots of demand for engineers, drafsmen and measurement anlayst type folk. And once you add these types there is trickle-down in other departments.

And contract is cool if you ask me. We have one guy who has been contract seven years. They tried to convert him but he keeps saying no.

Yeah...i don't blame him and know why. The hourly rates are way up there!

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Yeah...i don't blame him and know why. The hourly rates are way up there!

Do you know what the hourly rates are, approximately?

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Rockhound jobs in the petroleum field are mostly going to key on actual exploration experience. Coming from a coal background doesn't crossover much, unless you hookup with a group chasing coal-bed methane. One thing you may try is a placement or consulting firm, there are numerous in Houston, that can help you make the transition, because some of the better ones have support staff to lean on. El Paso could be a good place to hit up, the head rockhound there is Rene Decou, he's as nice a fella as you ever meet, known him over 30 years, and he's as good as the come. He does all the hiring and firing in the geology dept for EP. You might try www.rigzone.com and search the jobs in the geosciences there, a lot of recruiters work that pretty hard. You can start out contract through a firm, and wind up on full time after you prove your worth. Don't know how familiar you are with a lot of the new software that out now, but that is a big key now, you'll definitely be behind the curve if you aren't, but that is fixable. I've spent the last 40 years in the drilling end, and it's workable, you are just going to have to hustle, pick up quickly and sell yourself.

If I were giving my best guess for you to make the move as easy as possible, I'd say slip resumes to Cheryl Collarini, Susan Hughart, or Subsurface Consultants & Associates. All of these are always looking to staff people to fill your wishes.

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Rockhound jobs in the petroleum field are mostly going to key on actual exploration experience. Coming from a coal background doesn't crossover much, unless you hookup with a group chasing coal-bed methane. One thing you may try is a placement or consulting firm, there are numerous in Houston, that can help you make the transition, because some of the better ones have support staff to lean on. El Paso could be a good place to hit up, the head rockhound there is Rene Decou, he's as nice a fella as you ever meet, known him over 30 years, and he's as good as the come. He does all the hiring and firing in the geology dept for EP. You might try www.rigzone.com and search the jobs in the geosciences there, a lot of recruiters work that pretty hard. You can start out contract through a firm, and wind up on full time after you prove your worth. Don't know how familiar you are with a lot of the new software that out now, but that is a big key now, you'll definitely be behind the curve if you aren't, but that is fixable. I've spent the last 40 years in the drilling end, and it's workable, you are just going to have to hustle, pick up quickly and sell yourself.

If I were giving my best guess for you to make the move as easy as possible, I'd say slip resumes to Cheryl Collarini, Susan Hughart, or Subsurface Consultants & Associates. All of these are always looking to staff people to fill your wishes.

Thank you for the information, I'll explore each of those avenues. I just looked at El Paso's website and was very impressed. They seem to offer everything I'm looking for and I was getting excited by the prospect. I certainly need to learn the software as quickly as possible, but I'm ready, willing, and able. Almost more than anything, working as part of a team appeals to me. Right now I work largely on my own as I'm responsible for overseeing our exploratory drilling and geological data management, drawing maps and cross-sections, etc. I do collaborate with our engineers, but I'm the only geologist for our Kentucky subsidiaries. I enjoy my job and the independence is good and all, but it would also be fun to be a part of some larger projects with several other geoscientists working together to solve problems and such.

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Has anyone ever heard of an oil company sending their geoscientists back to school to earn a phd (at UT-Austin or Tex A&M for example) in order to move into the research and development side of the company?

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Actually most of the bigger companies have a continuing education program, built into their promptional standards. They also almost always pickup the tab if you continue on with them. Texaco repaid nearly all of my educational expenses, with my career with them. Shell assisted me with my DEng, and I was just a long-term contract engineer with them. Them sending Geos back to school is not unusual at all.

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Actually most of the bigger companies have a continuing education program, built into their promptional standards. They also almost always pickup the tab if you continue on with them. Texaco repaid nearly all of my educational expenses, with my career with them. Shell assisted me with my DEng, and I was just a long-term contract engineer with them. Them sending Geos back to school is not unusual at all.

That is excellent. I really want to continue my education, too. I'd love more physics, math, and geophyisics, as well as other subjects like spanish, english, business, etc. ls "DEng" a "degree in English" or "doctorate in english" or something else?

Has anyone ever heard of an oil company sending their geoscientists back to school to earn a phd (at UT-Austin or Tex A&M for example) in order to move into the research and development side of the company?

Where did you take your courses, by the way? Also, I realized "DEng" is engineering, not english. duh.

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TAMU

How exactly did you manage that? It seems that would be a long commute every day. Did you work and take classes at the same time? Or did you live in College Station for awhile?

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...

I'm sorry, wrong thread, I know, but this is oil related and I didn't get to post this in Puma's thread because he requested to close it down. Boo Hoo !

Edited by TJones

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quote name='TheNiche' date='Friday, May 9th, 2008 @ 6:07pm' post='248290']

I don't watch televised sports (unless I'm highly intoxicated), so no, I don't scream at the tube on a two-minute warning. And I don't purchase Rockets tickets or eat Big Macs, so that's not much of an issue, either.

Dude, Rockets tickets I can understand, but BIGMACS, who the hell doesn;t like a BIGMAC ??? FREAK !!!! :lol:;)

Anywho..... Price of gas should be consistent with the price of oil. Oil barells have doubled where as gas has TRIPLED ??? Does not make sense at all, at least not to me. Especially when there is NO OIL SHORTAGE !!!! Speculators are worried about Venezuela ? C'mon, Chavez's output is fifth in the world and they are buying from Russia in order to meet their numbers. Chavez's production has been cut drastically. He isn't saving up his resources, he is running out of them in that region. Someone at OPEC has their hands up these oil specualtors rear ends and these puppets are ruining our way of life right now.

A theory that has crossed my mind is that this could very possibly be a ploy by Bush, yes I said Bush, in order to push congress to open up ANWAR. Just a hunch.

I'm sorry, wrong thread, I know, but this is oil related and I didn't get to post this in Puma's thread because he requested to close it down. Boo Hoo !

I agree...wrong thread.

Edited by davev1977

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How exactly did you manage that? It seems that would be a long commute every day. Did you work and take classes at the same time? Or did you live in College Station for awhile?

I live closer to campus than I do down town. I commuted from BCS to Downtown for 7 years, (talk about getting old quick) before I built my home in Montgomery. It was a happy medium for me. It cut my commute in half and was still close to home. My family homestead is just outside of Bryan off of Dilly Shaw Tap near Kurten, technically Wixon Valley. I still have a home on 575 acres in Brazos County, but my primary home is on 83 acres in Montgomery County. I prefer not to live in the city by choice, the commute can be a pain, but we love our space, and horses are hard to raise in Bellaire or Memorial. Taxes are less out here, and we like our privacy. Just not a city kinda dude I reckon.

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I agree...wrong thread. I chose this forum for the very fact that I was finally able to find a group of people who weren't bashing each other over the head with politics. There are plenty of other places to hate Bush and fight over politics, but I was hoping that here I could get some advice about living in Houston and working for an oil company and providing for my family. Can we please not talk politics??? I could find a forum about how grasshoppers chew grass and people would be blaming Bush for their burnt toast that morning. Unreal.

Dave I completely APOLOGIZE to you and others. I am NOT hating on Bush either, in fact Mark F. will tell you, I am probably the most vocal supporter of him on here. I just needed a thread that pertained to oil, and I needed to be heard on it. I will happily remove my post as not to cause you any further pain my friend.

Edited by TJones

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Dave I completely APOLOGIZE to you and others. I am NOT hating on Bush either, in fact Mark F. will tell you, I am proably the most vocal supporter of him on here. I just needed a thread that pertained to oil, and I needed to be heard on it. I will happily remove my post as not to cause you any further pain my friend.

No, no, you're alright. In fact, your post was not as bad as I made it out to be. I just got the wrong idea I think. When I first created this topic I was afraid the first thing that would happen would be somebody would criticize me for wanting to work for an oil company, their reputations being what they are. I was very happy to get good advice and positive feedback about it. Thanks for the apology, though probably unnecessary.

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I live closer to campus than I do down town. I commuted from BCS to Downtown for 7 years, (talk about getting old quick) before I built my home in Montgomery. It was a happy medium for me. It cut my commute in half and was still close to home. My family homestead is just outside of Bryan off of Dilly Shaw Tap near Kurten, technically Wixon Valley. I still have a home on 575 acres in Brazos County, but my primary home is on 83 acres in Montgomery County. I prefer not to live in the city by choice, the commute can be a pain, but we love our space, and horses are hard to raise in Bellaire or Memorial. Taxes are less out here, and we like our privacy. Just not a city kinda dude I reckon.

Man, that sounds like a good life! Very American. Congrats to you. That's a whole lot of land, too. I can appreciate the thing about horses, they're pretty popular here in Kentucky, as well. My sister loves horses and owned one up in Montana while she was in college. Made me want to do the same some day. Is there much land available down there still at a decent price?

Edited by davev1977

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What kind of reorganizations are these companies going through? You would think that everyone in the oil industry would be doing extremely well right now and hiring left and right. What am I missing here?

It was really only one of the majors. No one seems to get anything they do anyway.

Most companies are keeping everyone they possibly can and hiring more regularily.

As far as the education thing, most will help you 80-100% -IF- you do it outside of work hours. (night school, uggg) Usually with some sort of contract in place too, ie. you stay for 2 yrs after graduation. The majors often have programs for the tenured elite employees that will send them off the top schools and get a master's while still on the payroll. These are extremely difficult to get but do exist.

Edited by jc281

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It was really only one of the majors. No one seems to get anything they do anyway.

Most companies are keeping everyone they possibly can and hiring more regularily.

As far as the education thing, most will help you 80-100% -IF- you do it outside of work hours. (night school, uggg) Usually with some sort of contract in place too, ie. you stay for 2 yrs after graduation. The majors often have programs for the tenured elite employees that will send them off the top schools and get a master's while still on the payroll. These are extremely difficult to get but do exist.

Night school doesn't sound appealing. Probably the only way it could be done would be to go to a school in Houston. No way could I go all the way out to TAMU or something like that. I'd rather take 2-3 years off and just get it all done at once, anyway. Which company do you work for? How do you like it? Any other oil company employees: how do you like working for your company? Do they treat you pretty well, other than giving good compensation/benefits?

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Night school doesn't sound appealing. Probably the only way it could be done would be to go to a school in Houston. No way could I go all the way out to TAMU or something like that. I'd rather take 2-3 years off and just get it all done at once, anyway. Which company do you work for? How do you like it? Any other oil company employees: how do you like working for your company? Do they treat you pretty well, other than giving good compensation/benefits?

Yup, it would be have to be in the Houston area and there are some decent options, but it takes a ton of dedication for no sure payoff, IMO.

As far as being happy with a co, it will all vary. A lot depends on the quality of people in your team and your manager. This can change drastically within organizations depending on which part of a company you go into (duh). Its a gamble - but as you interview try to feel around and focus on the most important thing - the type/quality of work. Since you are coming from Coal, research the variances in geological work as far as Onshore US vs. Deepwater GoM vs. Foreign projects. Seismic interpretation etc will be big in the newer exploration areas: Offshore Africa/Vietnam/Carribbean..the list goes on. If you are able to decipher a specific type of work within "Oil" it will help narrow your search quite a bit

Best of luck

Edited by jc281

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Yup, it would be have to be in the Houston area and there are some decent options, but it takes a ton of dedication for no sure payoff, IMO.

As far as being happy with a co, it will all vary. A lot depends on the quality of people in your team and your manager. This can change drastically within organizations depending on which part of a company you go into (duh). Its a gamble - but as you interview try to feel around and focus on the most important thing - the type/quality of work. Since you are coming from Coal, research the variances in geological work as far as Onshore US vs. Deepwater GoM vs. Foreign projects. Seismic interpretation etc will be big in the newer exploration areas: Offshore Africa/Vietnam/Carribbean..the list goes on. If you are able to decipher a specific type of work within "Oil" it will help narrow your search quite a bit

Best of luck

Thank you, great advice. On another topic, do you think there is any reason to believe that pay rates, bonuses, or hiring might decrease with the election of our next president since both likely candidates, McCain and Obama, express concern about global warming and have indicated they might hold oil companies accountable in some way? I doubt either one would actually do much harm to the industry in light of the fact that we will continue to need oil and will need to further our exploration and development activities, and the hiring activities are more related to a shortage of geoscientists in general, but might there be any impact at all?

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Has anyone ever heard of an oil company sending their geoscientists back to school to earn a phd (at UT-Austin or Tex A&M for example) in order to move into the research and development side of the company?

Chevron moved away from doing research years ago. The researchers generally manage research in universities and contracting companies rather than actually do it. The strategy is to leverage research under the practical guidance of those who actually need it, rather than the other way around.

It is difficult getting into oil companies these days. Teams hire rather than companies, except in recruiting efforts where the teams are encouraged to take on inewxperienced people from the universities. Those tend to get in the door through summer programs and they come from special schools, sponsored by folks who went to school at those special schools, e.g., Colorado School of Mines. The best ways of finding work in those companies are through networking and contracting, already covered in this thread.

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Chevron moved away from doing research years ago. The researchers generally manage research in universities and contracting companies rather than actually do it. The strategy is to leverage research under the practical guidance of those who actually need it, rather than the other way around.

It is difficult getting into oil companies these days. Teams hire rather than companies, except in recruiting efforts where the teams are encouraged to take on inewxperienced people from the universities. Those tend to get in the door through summer programs and they come from special schools, sponsored by folks who went to school at those special schools, e.g., Colorado School of Mines. The best ways of finding work in those companies are through networking and contracting, already covered in this thread.

Let me ask you this: If I know someone who works at Exxon, not necessarily in the geosciences, but someone who has worked there for 20+ years, would I be better off sending my resume through them or by applying on the company's website recruiting page? Or, what if I know some friends who work in the geosciences but have only been there for 2-3 years? Should I try going through them instead? They work at other companies, Schlumberger, Noble, and Pioneer.

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Let me ask you this: If I know someone who works at Exxon, not necessarily in the geosciences, but someone who has worked there for 20+ years, would I be better off sending my resume through them or by applying on the company's website recruiting page? Or, what if I know some friends who work in the geosciences but have only been there for 2-3 years? Should I try going through them instead? They work at other companies, Schlumberger, Noble, and Pioneer.

My experience (just shy of 10 years in oil/gas/pipeline) is send it through a known friend/associate any chance you have. Lots of reasons for this. First, Houston oil and gas is a good ole boy industry, and knowing someone helps a ton. You'll always come across the same people, even when they move from company to company. Second, most companies have pretty nice recruiting bonuses, and you can split that with your friend. My small/medium engineering company currently offers $2500 for non-engineering recruits and $5000 for engineers. I am sure that larger companies offer more.

I saw earlier comments about hourly rates and such for contract workers. Contract workers make up a fairly big chunk of the workforce. There are also companies that you may work for direct that you get your insurance/401K etc through that will contract you out to their clients as needed. Nice compromise there. As far as hourly rates, different for each company. Smaller companies have lower hourly rates obviously. I'll use myself as an example. I currently work in procurement/inspection services. I was recently asked to come interview with a dedicated inspection firm that is familiar with my work. They did not blink to offer me 30-35% more starting salary, with an additional 10% bump in 6 months if the clients liked my work. If I was to go purely contract I could easily ask for 40-50% more per hour, but there is the lack of 401K, insurance etc that needs to be considered.

I am sure as a geologist with experience you could go to a mid/major and make somewhere in the ballpark of $90K without putting up a fight, granted that you have a bachelor's, which I'm sure you do. And if you tell them up front that you're interested in staying with a company and taking advantage of their scholarship/education programs it can boost their offer. Companies are desparate to keep their people these days, and someone telling them out front they are not interested in jumping around can go a long ways.

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My experience (just shy of 10 years in oil/gas/pipeline) is send it through a known friend/associate any chance you have. Lots of reasons for this. First, Houston oil and gas is a good ole boy industry, and knowing someone helps a ton. You'll always come across the same people, even when they move from company to company. Second, most companies have pretty nice recruiting bonuses, and you can split that with your friend. My small/medium engineering company currently offers $2500 for non-engineering recruits and $5000 for engineers. I am sure that larger companies offer more.

I saw earlier comments about hourly rates and such for contract workers. Contract workers make up a fairly big chunk of the workforce. There are also companies that you may work for direct that you get your insurance/401K etc through that will contract you out to their clients as needed. Nice compromise there. As far as hourly rates, different for each company. Smaller companies have lower hourly rates obviously. I'll use myself as an example. I currently work in procurement/inspection services. I was recently asked to come interview with a dedicated inspection firm that is familiar with my work. They did not blink to offer me 30-35% more starting salary, with an additional 10% bump in 6 months if the clients liked my work. If I was to go purely contract I could easily ask for 40-50% more per hour, but there is the lack of 401K, insurance etc that needs to be considered.

I am sure as a geologist with experience you could go to a mid/major and make somewhere in the ballpark of $90K without putting up a fight, granted that you have a bachelor's, which I'm sure you do. And if you tell them up front that you're interested in staying with a company and taking advantage of their scholarship/education programs it can boost their offer. Companies are desparate to keep their people these days, and someone telling them out front they are not interested in jumping around can go a long ways.

Thanks for all the good information. Sounds like you have a pretty sweet deal there for yourself. I've got a Master's degree but all my experience is in coal so far. I know that won't translate well, but would you expect that to help my case? If they're desperate enough I'm sure somebody would hire me!? I really like the sound of $90k. That would represent a $30k/year increase for me. I'm certainly agreeable to staying with one company as long as it was a good one. What kinds of reputations do some of the companies have for treating their employees? Sounds like all the benefits are first-class...

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I don't want to burst your bubble, but I can tell you that new-hire PhD's with no previous oil experience are making 90K/year at the majors to start. I would guess that a Master's level hire would start lower. Unless you have some skills that are immediately applicable to exploration/production in the specific places that the majors are drilling I don't think you're that marketable yet.

And even the PhD's are still taking classes and training pretty regularly - no university degree trains you as well as the companies want. Which might work to your advantage - they're going to train you anyhow, so if they can pick you up "relatively" cheaply you'd get your training, start moving up the pay ladder and become more valuable in the industry.

Definitely get your resume out there through your contacts. Networking is your friend. Nothing is worse than having to get through the first level of paper-pushers in response to an ad on a job site.

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I don't want to burst your bubble, but I can tell you that new-hire PhD's with no previous oil experience are making 90K/year at the majors to start. I would guess that a Master's level hire would start lower. Unless you have some skills that are immediately applicable to exploration/production in the specific places that the majors are drilling I don't think you're that marketable yet.

And even the PhD's are still taking classes and training pretty regularly - no university degree trains you as well as the companies want. Which might work to your advantage - they're going to train you anyhow, so if they can pick you up "relatively" cheaply you'd get your training, start moving up the pay ladder and become more valuable in the industry.

Definitely get your resume out there through your contacts. Networking is your friend. Nothing is worse than having to get through the first level of paper-pushers in response to an ad on a job site.

No, that's fine. I had been hearing more along the lines of $80k for Master's degrees. Sometimes a little lower, but that's still an attractive number for me.

I don't want to burst your bubble, but I can tell you that new-hire PhD's with no previous oil experience are making 90K/year at the majors to start. I would guess that a Master's level hire would start lower. Unless you have some skills that are immediately applicable to exploration/production in the specific places that the majors are drilling I don't think you're that marketable yet.

And even the PhD's are still taking classes and training pretty regularly - no university degree trains you as well as the companies want. Which might work to your advantage - they're going to train you anyhow, so if they can pick you up "relatively" cheaply you'd get your training, start moving up the pay ladder and become more valuable in the industry.

Definitely get your resume out there through your contacts. Networking is your friend. Nothing is worse than having to get through the first level of paper-pushers in response to an ad on a job site.

I had also read that they hire more M.S. degrees than PHD. I wonder if it's a better idea to go get a PHD and get on a higher track or stick with the M.S. and do just fine that way...

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As far as company reputations go I can only speak first hand for a small number.

Technip - 50/50 chance of really enjoying it. Lot of communication issues with their teams in my experience. People do seem to be knowledgable.

Mustang - Have quite a few friends/family members at Mustang and for the most part they seem to really like it. Mustang used to have a reputation for hiring huge numbers, and firing at an even faster rate. I don't think that's the market right now, as I said companies want to hold onto their good people.

Total - Unless someone can come and speak up for Total, I say run like hell. I've been working with them for 2 years, and it is absolutely the most disfunctional organization I have ever come across.

Fluor - I have worked a handful of Fluor projects, and have always been a great company.

Keep in mind there are always the oil/gas agencies that will hire you direct, and contract you out. You can make a bit more than as a direct hire like this sometimes, as they will contract you out for 2.5-3 times your salary.

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I had also read that they hire more M.S. degrees than PHD. I wonder if it's a better idea to go get a PHD and get on a higher track or stick with the M.S. and do just fine that way...

Unless you have a burning desire to take a vow of poverty and devote your existence for the next 4-5 years to doing research, I'd stick with the Master's. You'll probably come out ahead in the end, given student loans and career time lost to school. The Master's level hires I know are doing great.

My husband didn't start his PhD with the idea of working for an oil company (in fact, he came from a hard rock mining background). But as I mentioned earlier, his program had close ties with two of the majors, and when they came recruiting it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Use the connections you have, get your resume out there, and see what shakes out.

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Unless you have a burning desire to take a vow of poverty and devote your existence for the next 4-5 years to doing research, I'd stick with the Master's. You'll probably come out ahead in the end, given student loans and career time lost to school. The Master's level hires I know are doing great.

My husband didn't start his PhD with the idea of working for an oil company (in fact, he came from a hard rock mining background). But as I mentioned earlier, his program had close ties with two of the majors, and when they came recruiting it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Use the connections you have, get your resume out there, and see what shakes out.

That sounds exactly like the train of thought I was on, thank you. I'd love to one day get a Phd and teach, but only later on as I head into retirement.

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As far as company reputations go I can only speak first hand for a small number.

Technip - 50/50 chance of really enjoying it. Lot of communication issues with their teams in my experience. People do seem to be knowledgable.

Mustang - Have quite a few friends/family members at Mustang and for the most part they seem to really like it. Mustang used to have a reputation for hiring huge numbers, and firing at an even faster rate. I don't think that's the market right now, as I said companies want to hold onto their good people.

Total - Unless someone can come and speak up for Total, I say run like hell. I've been working with them for 2 years, and it is absolutely the most disfunctional organization I have ever come across.

Fluor - I have worked a handful of Fluor projects, and have always been a great company.

Keep in mind there are always the oil/gas agencies that will hire you direct, and contract you out. You can make a bit more than as a direct hire like this sometimes, as they will contract you out for 2.5-3 times your salary.

This is great! There is one mentioned above I had great reservations about before considering. I will hope to PM if you can give your perspective. I knew it was just too good to be true. :mellow:

As crazy as it sounds I am strongly considering going back to the Oil industry. Hell, at least I got to travel some.

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This is great! There is one mentioned above I had great reservations about before considering. I will hope to PM if you can give your perspective. I knew it was just too good to be true. :mellow:

As crazy as it sounds I am strongly considering going back to the Oil industry. Hell, at least I got to travel some.

Where have you travelled to with the oil companies? I had been wondering about this: how do you all who work in the petroleum industry enjoy traveling to other countries as part of your job? Where have you been, what's the work like, how long do you work somewhere before getting to go to let's say Brazil, etc.? I'd love to hear some stories from people who have been in the industry. Any kind of anecdote will do - doesn't have to be a travel story, just some memorable experiences. I'd especially like to hear from any geoscientists out there, but stories from everybody would be great!!

Edited by davev1977

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Where have you travelled to with the oil companies? I had been wondering about this: how do you all who work in the petroleum industry enjoy traveling to other countries as part of your job? Where have you been, what's the work like, how long do you work somewhere before getting to go to let's say Brazil, etc.? I'd love to hear some stories from people who have been in the industry. Any kind of anecdote will do - doesn't have to be a travel story, just some memorable experiences. I'd especially like to hear from any geoscientists out there, but stories from everybody would be great!!

Dave I spent the majority of my career working internationally. Me personally, I liked it, it's somewhat different traveling these days with all the security now, but if you are prepared and have you act together it can be rather painless traveling through the bigger hubs. I really have no complaints. I met my wife while traveling abroad, she's Lebanese, and that was the best thing to happen to me in life, had a few touch and go run-ins in Venezuela I'd rather not repeat. Was actually wounded in Nicaragua in 1979 when there were some local issues going on with the Sandinistas. Things are different there today I'm sure. I'd stay away from the Western Africa area, stability is an ongoing thing around there.

Brazil is not too bad, but not much of a place to move the family if they travel with you, IMHO. I lived in Macae for a couple of years, the family was ready to go home as soon as the new wore off. Definitely a different culture, and my wife is very conservative and overly protective of the kids, she was never really happy to be there. If we were not parents at the time it could have been different. Rio can be like Las Vegas on Steroids and Carnival make Mardi Gras look like a church picnic. Majority of the expats live in Macae just north of Rio. Going there on a two week vacation is one thing but living there is another.

Dubai is the greatest, as long as you can deal with the climate. If heat and humidity is an issue, stay home. One of the best places, and most interesting was Madagascar. We had some offshore exploration projects going on there, however restrictions and other issues made it not really worth the trouble, at least back then, but the country was really neat. They've eased up some and a few projects still go on there. But environmental impact awareness is huge there.

Been all over the US currently in West Virginia on a project. The patch has been good to me, would change it for the world.

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Where have you traveled to with the oil companies? I had been wondering about this: how do you all who work in the petroleum industry enjoy traveling to other countries as part of your job?

My travel was all domestic. My first territory was the West Coast, so I was able to visit my clients starting at Monterey, San Jose/SFO and all the way up to Ukiah near Santa Rosa (wine country). Later on I took on the Mid-Atlantic territory. We were a major oil brand so my trips always involved attending races ie; Laguna Seca, Sears Point et all. It became a pampered work life, best hotels, car rentals, etc. :blush: It was more of a PR position than anything. I later was able to be part of the International Sales force but it was all handled here with no travel involved. Our collegues would visit us from all foreign countries. I still keep in touch with all my group from the west coast and its even more tempting to go back in the industry. Once its in your blood....

My advice to anyone in the biz is to move around the company and garner as much experience as possible. You will be glad you did later on.

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I've seen both sides of it, and enjoyed it for a while. My least favorite trips were Port Arthur and Gillette, Wyoming. Now you think Wyoming and nice landscape, but something about northeast Wyoming just isn't as great. Beyond that, there is nothing to do there (except get speeding tickets driving to Cheyenne or Rapid City on the weekend). Now Cody, Wyoming is another story. I love that place. I hit Yellowstone as much as I could on those trips.

I've been to a lot of great places though - I got to spend a good amount of time in Aberdeen, which was really cool. I took a few weekend trips to Edinburgh and out in the country to Balmoral Castle. Also went to Cork, Ireland. That place rocks. Kinsale, south of Cork on the coast, it a beautiful place, and I actually got to fly out to the platform for that trip, about 12 miles out in the south Irish Sea. So beautiful.

Also got to go to Alaska about 5 times now. Anchorage is great, but the best was being able to get up to the north slope. Of course I only got there during winter, so it was like being on the moon (I imagine, don't know for certain). White/gray everywhere, and just constant wind. I think 50 below was the temp in October sometime. To fly back on my second trip I had to get a guy to drive me 20 or so miles from Kuparuk to Prudhoe bay, and I remember being amazed looking at the truck thermostat reading 90 degrees. When the wind would blow I could feel it come through the cab, that's how cold the air was.

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I consider traveling one of the perks of the job. Some people hate traveling, and refuse to do so, and tend to bring it up quite often. I find it kind of stupid to work in oil/gas and refuse to take an expense paid trip to Dubai. Sign me up! But some people do.

I've traveled to both coasts, Calgary, and Edmonton in my career so far. Ajob I recently interviewed for told me that travel overseas is a definite possibility, and needless to say the chance to go to Japan, or Korea, or Iceland on the companies dime is pretty damn sweet.

So yeah, travel. It's a great thing. A lot of people will tie a day or two of vacation, and stay over in say, Italy, and have some nice trips of their own.

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I consider traveling one of the perks of the job. Some people hate traveling, and refuse to do so, and tend to bring it up quite often. I find it kind of stupid to work in oil/gas and refuse to take an expense paid trip to Dubai. Sign me up! But some people do.

I've traveled to both coasts, Calgary, and Edmonton in my career so far. Ajob I recently interviewed for told me that travel overseas is a definite possibility, and needless to say the chance to go to Japan, or Korea, or Iceland on the companies dime is pretty damn sweet.

So yeah, travel. It's a great thing. A lot of people will tie a day or two of vacation, and stay over in say, Italy, and have some nice trips of their own.

I definitely see travel as a perk, too. I've had some international travel experience, including the Marshall Islands, where I went to high school, and Europe, where I was in the military stationed in Germany for 2 years. I can't wait to become mobile again!

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Does anyone here work for Devon Energy or know somebody who does? I was very impressed with the information on their website and was wondering if anyone could speak up about the company's reputation among the employees. I also noticed they offer 3 weeks of vacation to begin with...does it ever increase to 4 weeks? I plan to be employed as a geologist/geophysicist within the next year or two.

Edited by davev1977

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My new question is for those of you who commute to downtown Houston. Where do you commute from, how long does it take, what kind of car do you drive, and how much is it costing you on average per week? We're thinking about moving to Sugar Land and I wonder how expensive it will be. If my income increases by $20,000/year, I'm sure I'll still come out ahead, but I still want to factor this into the equation. Plus, my wife may end up staying home for a few years when we have kids, so I need to factor that in as well because that will represent a decrease of ~$40,000/year. Thanks for your help!

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The folks I know who work at Devon like working there. As far as I know, theiir vacation goes to 4 weeks at 10 years.

I've been traveling with oil companies since I was born. We moved all over the US when I was growing up, then spent 4 years in London for high school. After getting my degree, I spent 5 years overseas in Gabon, Egypt, and Thailand before getting laid off. I then worked contract in Peru for most of a year. I've travelled to the UK, Belgium, Russia, and Qatar, and recently started an assignement in Qatar.

I will say it's getting harder to go overseas. More countires are developing their own expertise, and companies prefer to hire locals whenver possible, as they const less - no housing, travel, etc. There are more overseas spots for engineers and geoscientists than for the support types.

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hi guys, i thought i would just reply to this thread rather than start a new one...i have a few interviews with EPC companies in Houston (mainly Sugar Land) i.e. Bechtel, Fluor and Shaw. I'm currently a process engineer with 4 years experience working in Canada (Calgary) kind of the O&G equivalent to Houston over here.

I was wondering what kind of salary to ask for in the interview and do these companies have tough interviews, or will it just be a sit down with the Process Chief and maybe a HR person. Working in EPC over here, I have never really been grilled in an interview and its not a big thing like you would see with a production or operating company. Usually its just myself and the Process Chief and he asks me questions about my previous work and tells me more about the company.

So I guess my questions are, what salary to ask for as I am thinking of 100k as a minimum since I currently make about 85k. And also information on their interiew processes if anyone works there or has been through it before. Thanks.

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