The Great Crew Change: Petro-Opportunities for Veterans Abound

While hiring veterans of the U.S. armed forces is hardly a new trend in the oil and natural gas industry, there's probably more opportunity than ever before, due to the explosive growth in the shale sector and the need to replace "Baby Boomers" nearing retirement age.

Opportunities for veterans include:

  • Drilling rig or rig service jobs
  • Transferring skills from related military specialties, such as quality assurance/quality control, mechanic and technician jobs or accounting and administrative jobs
  • Hiring of veterans with direct, prior petro-experience and/or education

"We definitely target the armed forces in our recruiting," said Daryl Hood, Schlumberger North American Technical Recruiting Manager, in an article on the website.

"We've found that those veterans who come to us with technical experience get up to speed quickly and find a lot of success at Schlumberger."

Hood added that the technical training, maturity, and discipline of veterans are challenging to locate elsewhere.

Another web site,, sponsored by a host of oil and gas companies, provides a detailed listing of the types of jobs available – and the corresponding military classifications that provide good background for each category. The categories are accounting and finance, administrative services, engineering, general labor, geosciences, government and regulatory affairs, health, science and the environment, human resources, land management, planning and evaluation, skilled crafts person, semi-skilled crafts person and technician.

"Yes, we do see quite a bit of interest for veterans," said Volker Rathmann, president of Collarini Energy Staffing. "It's not just the technical skills but the discipline the enlisted person brings that's quite appreciated."

Rathmann continued: "It is not always easy to make a match though. Companies are looking for five years of recent experience."

Collarini's clients are oil field operators and focus primarily on professional opportunities requiring college degrees and generally, at least five years recent experience. Rathmann believes that there are probably more opportunities in service companies (such as Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Weatherford, Rowan, Diamond Offshore) for newcomers and people with less recent experience. Indeed, service companies typically offer training programs for people just coming into the industry in entry-level, manual occupations.

Yet there are exceptions. "What we are seeing are folks returning from Iraq with experience in helping to redevelop the Iraqi oilfields. Something specialized like that is in demand."

Also in demand are veterans with quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) backgrounds, Rathmann said.

"Exceptional QA/QC people who know how to work around oilfields is a sought-after skill area." He also recommended "good old-fashioned networking."

Still another option available to veterans is to apply GI-bill benefits to furthering education and training for oil and gas-related jobs. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) emphasizes that the GI Bill now covers expenses for many non-college degree programs. These include on-the-job training, apprenticeships and even some correspondence programs.

The VA, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), also offers the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) for unemployed veterans. The new program, which just took effect in July, provides retraining for unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60, which have been the hardest hit by current economic conditions.

The program is limited to 54,000 participants from October 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014. Participants must be enrolled in a VA-approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an associate degree, non-college degree, or a certification, and train the veteran for a high-demand occupation. Many jobs in the petroleum industry qualify.

The Great Crew Change |


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Jess  |  April 26, 2013
my husband and I are both disabled army veterans...he was hired by his company nearly 7 years ago. He disclosed ptsd medicine and medicine for his back from VA. He has been a loyal employee and has had no issues with his medicine. All the sudden his company has an issue with his medicine after 6 1/2 years and now trying to do weekend meeting to not allow him time to obtain an attorney...he signed documents at a meeeting just to be able to go back to work about a half and a week ago. My husband is a decorated veteran. He should not be treated this way. I doubt veterans are going to have much luck anymore if injured veterans or suffer PTSD.
C. P. Nicolls  |  December 08, 2011
Roger that David, keep a positive attitude and regardless of what some of us have done, drive on. I wish that I had had your GI bill, didn't join in time. S/F
david c allen  |  December 08, 2011
I went to college on the GI Bill in the sixties and with it and a job on the campus security force I was able to pay my way through. Go to it guys and get yourself re-acclimated.
 |  December 08, 2011
I think its a big joke for us older veterans??? I'm 52 started as a roughneck in 77 then joined the Navy spent 12 yrs. in Naval special warfare got wounded 3 times I draw a lousy 30% disability and yes I am one of the strong mined ones!! NO chicken!!!! (PTSD) claim for me I don't believe it!!!! I worked for the Gov for 20 yrs. then I made a mistake in '05 1 lousy misdemeanor and suddenly society ranks you with the felons and the worse of the worse. You try to be honest on an (APP) and your oil and gas companies shoot you down it don't matter if I am a (DAV) or not or what I can bring to the table!!! WITH MY (EXP)?? What ever happen to giving someone a chance???? to prove themselves instead of judging them from there office?? Damn maybe if I can do a 5 tours in IRAQ or AFGANISTAN I as some (REMF) I can get a job and for the sake and argument I was in IRAQ on 03/19/2003 when the bombing started I was a civilian though and yrs. prior too!!! but obviously that don't mean a damn thing to your oil and gas companies all they all see is the 1 minor mistake I paid for it... Now how about a reply back from one of the companies, I can really use a job!