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Getting hired for oilfield vacancies in North Dakota

Continued and uninterrupted growth of oil production in the western part of North Dakota keeps creating more oil rig jobs, including entry level positions for the people who never used to work in oil & gas industry before. Influx of labor force occurs not only from among the people who were unfortunate (or fortunate?) to loose their jobs in other industries. Many from those hired for the entry level jobs like roustabouts, painters, rigger helpers etc. that require none or very little previous hands-on experience that could be picked up on site, left their previous jobs attracted by the high salaries on oil rigs that averaged at $US 110,000 - 115,000 for low end positions on ND oil rigs during the years 2012 - 2014. There are so many oil rig vacancies in North Dakota currently, because with oil companies beginning to invest massively in the development of Bakken Shale crude oil deposits since 2008 the state became the second largest oil producing state in America, next only to Texas.

Presently North Dakota enjoys the lowest level of unemployment across the USA, and evidently it's the oil exploration/production boom in ND oil patch that keeps contributing greatly to resolving the issue of reducing unemployment by creating nearly 82,000 new jobs on ND oilfields during the couple of past years. According to oil & gas industry jobs portal Rigzone, even the entry-level workers working on North Dakota oilfields get median salary of striking $US 66K per annum - and that's for working part time! Normally that's 14 days on job and 7 off, at least on the majority of oil rigs found in the Bakken Oilfield close to the cities/towns in North Dakota such as, for example, Williston, Fargo, or Minot. Working conditions, can be described as at least very demanding, for you are required to work 12, sometimes 16 hours a day (overtime job is paid additional half of the base hourly wages).

Some of the best paid vacancies available in the North Dakota oil industry ranked by the size of average salary per annum
  1. Stimulation Supervisor: $US 101,000
  2. Well Tester: $US 103,000
  3. Coil Tubing Specialist: $US 107,000
  4. Mud Engineer: $US 110,000
  5. Geoscientist: $US 126,000
  6. Geologist: $US 126,000
  7. Petroleum engineer $US $127,000
  8. Rig Manager: over $US 140,000
  9. Drilling engineer $US $143,000
  10. Reservoir Engineer: $US 150,000
  11. Workover or Completion Driller: $US 152,000
  12. Foreman or Superintendent: $US 183,000
  13. Directional Driller: $US 193,000
  14. Drilling Consultant: $US 240,000

Considering the climate in North Dakota is typically continental, the hardest time rig workers in the oilfields have occurs in winter and during summertime, when they have to work under extreme cold outdoors, or in extremely hot environment. Add to that the fact that the western North Dakota with its average yearly precipitation being 17 inches a year is nearly the driest place among all states of the USA, and you'll get the complete vision of the conditions all these oilfield jobs require oil rig workers to sustain. They are not only comparable with working conditions on offshore oil rigs, but in certain aspects can become much worse - take only housing. While lodging on offshore oil platform can be compared to living in a high class hotel, in North Dakota oil rig workers and auxiliary staff often have no other choice than to share rooms or mobile homes that they rent with their co-workers, while the inflated rent they pay to greedy landlords may not be reimbursed by the employer.

Is it easy to find Roustabout job in North Dakota?

Though there is severe shortage of workforce, including entry-level roustabouts (on land based oil rigs this position has also alternative titles Righand, Leasehand, or Deckhand), this lowest paid and the dirtiest job on oil rigs of North Dakota is not easy to land. If during previous years oil drilling contractors would hire, no problem, people unfamiliar with oil rigs, now they look closely at each resumé and at each candidate during the interview - they do have who to chose from. Of course, preference is given to applicants with the experience in oil & gas industry, the more so that there's a legal restriction limiting the number of inexperienced freshers or apprentices to only one person per drilling team. Even a couple of months long experience on oil rigs matters and gives such applicant the edge over the rest of entry level oil rig job seekers. The applicants from among ex-military are treated likewise. Don't get immediately discouraged, if you can't boast any of the privileges of the kind, though.

With enough persistence and strong health allowing work long hours and overtime without more that a couple of minutes breaks, any male or female candidate can count to be granted an opportunity to prove themselves. Be patient, while hunting for an oilfield job. The hiring process may take somewhere around 3 to 6 months for applicants for entry-level job that don't require college degree, if applicant doesn't have proof of prior experience on oil rigs. If hired and turned out suited, greenhand oil workers / members of the drilling crew without college degree may expect to start earning soon the figures close to $US 100,000 a year - nice salary by all means. Careers in the North Dakota's oilfield industry can be regarded as long-term opportunities with lots of room for learning new skills, education, training, and career advancement.

Still focussing on getting hired to work exactly as roustabout, or roughneck, or derrickman, or rig electrician that are engaged directly in the oil drilling or oil production operations on the oil fields of western North Dakota is what I would recommend not to be fanatical about. There are less stressful and less grueling auxiliary jobs where the salary is not so impressive, but very decent either. Each oil rig job creates a number of jobs in auxiliary and support roles that earn on ensuring smooth, continuous functioning and viability of the oil drilling facilities that are expected to work on non-stop schedule 24 hours a day, 7 day a week, 52 weeks a year until the production is completed and the well sealed. Consider getting hired for jobs like truck driver, forklift operator, repairman, caterer, salesman, shop technician, concrete maker, welder, construction worker, computer programmer, crane operator, different positions in logistics and maintenance - opportunities are endless close to oilfields.

Smaller towns and communities in the ND oil patch region close to oil rigs and wells

Besides Williston, Minot, Dickinson, and Fargo, the following towns and villages are within reasonable distance from oil rigs that provide oilfield jobs in North Dakota: Tioga, Keene, Richardton, Watford City, Powers Lake, New Town, Crosby, Stanely, Belfield, Killdeer, Ray.

The latest hot vacancies: Toolpusher, Senior Toolpusher, Driller Cyber Drilling Experience (1 year min.), Oil Drilling Section Leader, Well Test Engineer, Assistant Drillers, Chief Rig Mechanic, Rig Manager. Mud Logger, Mud Engineer, Derrickman, Camp Boss, Drilling Foreman. Maintenance Team Leader, Completion Engineer, Rope Access Technician-welder, Drilling Fluids Engineer, Mechanic, Motorman.

The companies, currently engaged in oil exploration and production in North Dakota: Enerplus Corp., Halliburton, Continental Resources Inc., Whiting Petroleum Corporation WLL, Oasis Petroleum, Kodiak Oil & Gas (operates 7 rigs); they also are the biggest oilfield job providers in the area.

Greenhands Learning Corner: Drilling Rig Crew Structure

Normally there are 3 drilling crews working by shifts on land based oil rig under the supervision of Rig Manager. Each drilling crew normally consists of 4 to 6 crew members:

  • Leasehand (Roustabout)
  • Floorhand (Floorman, Roughneck), who is a Driller's (Rigger's) Helper
  • Motorhand (Motorman)
  • Derrickhand (Derrickman)
  • Driller (Rigger)
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