Why are oil company jobs hot right now, and how long can we expect them to remain hot? To learn the answer, let me paraphrase from an interview between Investment U and Jim Rogers (author of Hot Commodities and former CEO of Quantum Fund) conducted in 2006. In this interview, Jim Rogers said that looking back in history, the shortest commodity bull market lasted 15 years while the longest lasted 23 years. He expects the current commodity bull run to last until at least 2014 and maybe even up to 2022. He also expects oil and gas to share in this bull run.
Here is why this investment legend believes that oil and gas will remain hot for at least the next decade:
“All the great oil fields in the world were discovered more than 35 years ago. There’s been no major oil discovery anywhere in the world since 1970. Alaska’s in decline… The Mexican fields are in decline… The North Sea is in decline… The U.K. has been exporting oil for 25 years – but within the decade, they will be importing oil. Malaysia has been exporting oil for decades – they will soon be importing oil. Indonesia’s a member of OPEC, and about to get thrown out because they now import oil…”
As can be seen from previous cycles of the commodities booms and busts, oil companies will be furiously investing in oil exploration and oil rigs and other facilities for the coming decade. Unfortunately for consumers, even after they find new oil fields, it takes several years to build the oil rig and other productions facilities like pipelines and oil refineries. As 70% of the Earth is underneath the ocean, we’ll need more deep-sea oil rigs to get at the oil there. These oil rigs are actually mounted on giant ships, and count in the same class as supertankers and aircraft carriers. They take even longer to build than normal oil rigs.
On the other hand, if you are working in the oil industry, all of these problems are good for you. These oil rigs and refineries won’t build themselves, and definitely won’t run themselves. They need people to build them, they need people to run them. And don’t forget supporting industries like oil mud and heavy industries. After all, who do you think is going to supply the pipes for the pipelines and other construction equipment?
No jobs? Don’t make me laugh. There are plenty of jobs in the oil and gas industry… as long as you are willing to move away from your current industry, and as long as you have a sound mind and sound body. Of course, this only considers regular, run-of-the-mill jobs. Jobs like management, engineering, mechanics, office work, construction, etc.
How about high-paying jobs? After all, when we talk about oil company jobs… The 4 highest paying jobs in an oil company would be management (as usual), prospecting, offshore oil rigs and sales (again as usual). Prospecting is the main bottleneck. Modern prospecting is a highly detailed science. Not only do you need to get your geology degree, you need various specializations for oil prospecting. To be useful, you probably need a Masters degree. We’re looking at 4 – 6 years to train a useful geologist who can find oil. If you are studying geology right now, it is definitely worth getting the specialized majors and minors needed for the oil industry. Same thing goes for those studying in chemical engineering (for work in the new refineries). If you are still thinking about a geology degree, my advice is to look for a specialized program which will fast-track you to your degree in 3 years. Start building your contacts now and you’ll have a job right out of university.
Obviously, just knowing that the jobs are out there doesn’t help very much. You still need to find out who the oil companies are and which ones will be interested in your skillset. You need to know whom to contact – note that many of these companies don’t even have web-sites or e-mail addresses. You won’t find them in Google. And Monster.com traditionally is not very useful if the job isn’t mainstream. That’s why you still see people making inquiries on bulletin boards like Yahoo Answers, hoping to find leads to jobs.
So, now you know. Is it worth re-tooling your skills for oil company jobs? Yes. Because the oil boom will probably last until 2014 or later due to economic fundamentals. This means you’ll have a job for a long time to come. In other words, forget IT and finance. Oil is King.