One area that weathered the downturn of the last decade is the research and development field. In fact, many companies took advantage of the slowdown to pursue new ideas and methods of retrieving petroleum that are more efficient and economical.
Major oil spills in Alaska and in waters off the coast of the United States have given the petroleum industry a bad name, although it continues to research and implement ways to protect the environment from oil spills, dust, noise, and refinery emissions.
In 1995, for example, the petroleum industry spent $9.6 billion on environmental protection-as much as it spent searching for new domestic supplies of oil and natural gas. That expenditure is about $2 billion more than the annual budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 1995, the industry also decreased the number of oil spills by 71 percent from the previous year.
New legislation governing air quality, emissions, and other environmental issues are still unresolved at this writing. The industry realizes it will continue to have a substantial financial burden to meet these new regulations. In the meantime, the American Petroleum Institute has documented these industry results from the past decade:
- From 1991 to 1995, twelve times more used oil was collected and recycled. Used oil is recycled by burning it for fuel or re-refining it into petroleum products.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory shows those refineries' releases of chemicals to the environment declined by 26 percent between 1988 and 1995.
- Gasoline stations and other marketing facilities are ahead of schedule in meeting pollution prevention regulations for underground storage tanks that went into effect in 1998.
- Six cleaner-burning fuels have been produced since the 1970s by taking the lead out of gasoline, reducing evaporations of hydrocarbons to cut ozone smog, lowering carbon monoxide emissions in winter, controlling particulate emissions with low-sulfur diesel fuel, and twice reformulating gasoline to reduce ozone smog and toxic emissions.
- The EPA says over the past quarter century, emissions of the six major pollutants it monitors fell by 29 percent, while the population grew by 28 percent and vehicle miles traveled and the gross domestic product doubled.
Therefore, a growing field, logically, is environmental engineering, which involves identifying, solving, and alleviating environmental problems.
Research support staff at a number of major oil companies also includes personnel trained in health and safety engineering, entomology, biochemistry, plant pathology, toxicology, mathematics, and statistics. Another important position is the research scientist, who studies ways of using chemicals to remove oil from coal, shale, and tar sands. They may also study ways to use other energy sources. Research scientists may be called chemical or technical engineers and may help look for alternate energy technologies, particularly in recovering and refining petroleum products. (See Chapter 7 for employment opportunities for chemical engineers.)
Chemists search for and put to practical use new knowledge about chemicals. Although chemicals are often thought of as artificial or toxic substances; all physical things, whether naturally occurring or of human design, are composed of chemicals. Chemists have developed a tremendous variety of new and improved synthetic fibers, paints, adhesives, drugs, cosmetics, electronic components, lubricants, and thousands of other products. They also develop processes that save energy and reduce pollution, such as improved oil refining and petrochemical processing methods. Research on the chemistry of living things spurs advances in medicine, agriculture, food processing, and other areas.
Many chemists work in research and development. In basic research, chemists investigate the properties, composition, and structure of matter and the laws that govern the combination of elements and reactions of substances. In applied research and development, they create new products and processes or improve existing ones, often using knowledge gained from basic research. For example, synthetic rubber and plastics resulted from research on small molecules uniting to form large ones (polymerization).
Chemists also work in production and quality control in chemical manufacturing plants. They prepare instructions for plant workers that specify ingredients, mixing times, and temperatures for each stage in the process. They also monitor automated processes to ensure proper product yield, and they test samples to ensure they meet industry and government standards. Chemist record and report on test results. Others are marketing or sales representatives who sell and provide technical information on chemical products.
Chemists often specialize in a subfield. Analytical chemists determine the structure, composition, and nature of substances and develop analytical techniques. They also identify the presence and concentration of chemical pollutants in air, water, and soil. Organic chemists study the chemistry of the vast number of carbon compounds. Organic chemists have developed many commercial products, such as drugs, plastics, and fertilizers. Inorganic chemists study compounds consisting mainly of elements other than carbon, such as those in electronic components. Physical chemists study the physical characteristics of atoms and molecules and investigate how chemical reactions work. Their research may result in new and better energy sources.
Chemists usually work regular hours in offices and laboratories. Research chemists spend much time in laboratories, but also work in offices when they do theoretical research or plan, record, and report on their lab research. Although some laboratories are small, others are large and may incorporate prototype chemical manufacturing facilities as well as advanced equipment.
Chemists may also do some of their research in a chemical plant or outdoors, while gathering samples of pollutants, for example. Some chemists are exposed to health or safety hazards when handling certain chemicals, but there is little risk if proper procedures are followed.
Chemists held about 97,000 jobs in 1994. The majority of chemists are employed in manufacturing firms-mostly in the chemical manufacturing industry-which includes firms that produce plastics and synthetic materials, drugs, soaps and cleaners, paints, industrial organic chemicals, and other miscellaneous chemical products. Chemists are employed in all parts of the country, but they are mainly concentrated in large industrial areas.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
A bachelor's degree in chemistry or a related discipline is usually the minimum education necessary to work as a chemist. However, many, if not most research jobs, require a Ph.D. degree. Many colleges and universities offer a bachelor's degree program in chemistry, 606 of which are approved by the American Chemical Society. Several hundred colleges and universities also offer advanced degree programs in chemistry.
Students planning careers as chemists should enjoy studying science and mathematics, and should like working with their hands building scientific apparatus and performing experiments. Perseverance, curiosity, and the ability to concentrate on details and to work independently are essential. In addition to required courses in analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, undergraduate chemistry majors usually study biological sciences, mathematics, and physics. Computer courses are invaluable, as employers increasingly prefer job applicants to be not only computer literate, but also able to apply computer skills to modeling and simulation tasks. Laboratory instruments also are computerized, and the ability to operate and understand equipment is essential.
Because research and development chemists are increasingly expected to work on interdisciplinary teams, some understanding of other disciplines, including business and marketing or economics is desirable, along with leadership ability and good oral and written communication skills. Experience, either in academic laboratories or through internships or co-op programs in industry, also is useful.
Although graduate students typically specialize in a subfield of chemistry, such as analytical chemistry or polymer chemistry, students usually need not specialize at the undergraduate level. In fact, undergraduates who are broadly trained have more flexibility when job hunting or changing jobs than if they narrowly define their interests. Most employers provide new bachelor's degree chemists with additional training or education.
In government or industry, beginning chemists with a bachelor's degree work in technical sales or services, quality control, or assist senior chemists in research and development laboratories. Some may work in research positions, analyzing and testing products, but these may be technicians' positions, with limited upward mobility. Many employers prefer chemists with a Ph.D. to work in basic and applied research. A Ph.D. is also generally preferred for advancement to many administrative positions. Chemists who work in sales, marketing, or professional research positions often move into management.
Employment of chemists is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2005. The chemical industry, the major employer of chemists, should face continued demand for goods such as new and better pharmaceuticals and personal care products, as well as more specialty chemicals designed to address specific problems or applications. To meet these demands, research and development expenditures in the chemical industry will continue to increase, contributing to employment opportunities for chemists.
Within the chemical industry, job opportunities are expected to be most plentiful in pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms. Although employment growth is expected to be slower in the remaining segments of the chemical industry, there will still be a need for chemists to develop and improve products, as well as the technologies and processes used to produce chemicals for all purposes. Job growth also will be spurred by the need for chemists to monitor and measure air and water pollutants to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal environmental regulations.
Because much employment growth of chemists is expected to relate to drug research and development and environmental issues, analytical, environmental, and synthetic organic chemists should have the best job prospects. During periods of economic recession, layoffs of chemists may occur, especially in the oil refining and industrial chemicals industries.
The work of chemical engineers, agricultural scientists, biological scientists, and chemical technicians is closely related to the work done by chemists. The work of other physical and life science occupations, such as physicists and medical scientists, also may be similar to that of chemists.
Science technicians use the principles and theories of science and mathematics to solve problems in research and development and to help invent and improve products. Their jobs are more practically oriented than are those of scientists. Technicians set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments, monitor experiments, make observations, calculate and record results, and often develop conclusions. Those who work in production test products for proper proportions of ingredients or for strength and durability.
In recent years, as laboratory instrumentation and procedures have become more complex, the role of science technicians in research and development has expanded. In addition to performing routine tasks under the direction of scientists, many technicians also develop and adapt laboratory procedures to achieve the best results, interpret data, and devise solutions to problems. The increasing use of robotics to perform many routine tasks formerly done by technicians has freed technicians to operate other, more sophisticated laboratory equipment. Science technicians make extensive use of computers, computer-interfaced equipment, robotics, and high-technology industrial applications such as biological engineering.
Chemical technicians work with chemists and chemical engineers in developing and using chemicals and related products and equipment. Most do research and development, testing, and other laboratory work. For example, they might test packaging for design, materials, and environmental acceptability; assemble and operate new equipment to develop new products; monitor product quality; or develop new production techniques. Some chemical technicians collect and analyze samples of air and water to monitor pollution levels. Those who focus on basic research might produce compounds through complex organic synthesis.
Petroleum technician's measure and record physical and geologic conditions in oil or gas wells using instruments lowered into wells or by analysis of the mud from wells. In oil and gas exploration, they collect and examine geological data or test geological samples to determine petroleum and mineral content. Some petroleum technicians, called scouts, collect information about oil and gas well drilling operations, geological and geophysical prospecting, and land or lease contracts.
Science technicians work under a wide variety of conditions. Most work indoors, usually in laboratories, and have regular hours. Some occasionally work irregular hours to monitor experiments that can't be completed during regular working hours. Some, such as agricultural and petroleum technicians, perform much of their work outdoors, sometimes in remote locations, and some may be exposed to hazardous conditions. Chemical technicians sometimes work with toxic chemicals or radioactive isotopes; however, there is little risk if proper safety procedures are followed.
Science technicians held about 231,000 jobs in 1994. Over one-third worked in manufacturing, mostly in the chemical industry, but also in the food processing industry. About 15 percent worked in education services and another 15 percent worked in research and testing services.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
There are several ways to qualify for a job as a science technician. Most employers prefer applicants who have at least two years of specialized training. Many junior and community colleges offer associate degrees in a specific technology or a more general education in science and mathematics. A number of two-year associate degree programs are designed to provide easy transfer to a four-year college or university if desired. Technical institutes generally offer technician training but provide less theory and general education than junior or community colleges. The length of programs at technical institutes varies, although two-year associate degree programs are common. Some of these schools offer cooperative-education programs, allowing students the opportunity to work at a local company while attending classes in alternate terms. Many science technicians have a bachelor's degree in chemistry or biology, or at least have had several science and math courses in four-year colleges.
Two-year formal training programs that combine the teaching of scientific principles and theory with practical hands-on application in a laboratory setting with up-to-date equipment provide very good preparation for prospective science technicians. Graduates of four-year bachelor's degree programs in science who have completed internships or held summer jobs in laboratories also are well-qualified for science technician positions.
Persons interested in careers as science technicians should take as many high school science and math courses as possible. Science courses taken beyond high school, in an associate's or bachelor's program, should be laboratory oriented, with an emphasis on "bench" skills. Because computers and computer-interfaced equipment often are used in research and development laboratories, technicians should have strong computer skills. Communication skills are important, since technicians are often asked to report their finding both verbally and in writing. Technicians should also be able to work well with others since they often are part of a team. Technicians usually begin work as trainees in routine positions under the direct supervision of a scientist or experienced technician. Job candidates whose training or educational background encompasses extensive hands-on experience with a variety of laboratory equipment, including computers and related equipment, usually require a much shorter period of on-the-job training. As they gain experience, they take on more responsibility and carry out assignments under only general supervision. Some eventually become supervisors.
Employment of science technicians is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2005. Continued growth of scientific and medical research and development and the production of technical products should spur demand for all science technicians. Employment growth also will be fueled by the demand for science technicians to work in environmental research and testing. Technicians will be needed to help regulate waste products, collect air and water samples to measure levels of pollutants, and clean up contaminated sites. However, growth of job openings will be moderated somewhat by an expected slowdown in overall employment growth in the chemical industry, where many chemical technicians are employed.
Job opportunities are expected to be very good for graduates of science technician training programs who are well trained on the equipment currently in use in industrial and government laboratories. As the instrumentation and techniques used in industrial research and development laboratories become more complex, employers will seek well-trained individuals with highly developed technical and communication skills. In addition to the projected growth, nearly as many job openings will arise from the need to replace technicians who retire or leave the labor force for other reasons.
Other technicians who apply scientific principles at a level usually taught in two-year associate degree programs include engineering technicians, broadcast technicians, drafters, and health technologists and technicians.
Like all industries, the computer age has revolutionized the petroleum business. Most oil companies use computers to keep track of the rapid flow of detailed information. However, major oil firms, as well as drilling companies, are taking advantage of the technical advances being made in computer software to make their operations more efficient.
There are a number of careers for someone with a degree in computer programming or computer science. Major oil companies usually need professionals in the areas of business; exploration, production, and process; administration; operations; voice and data communications; and technology.
In the business application, a new worker could conceivably begin work as a computer programmer, who is responsible for developing software. Advancement is possible into a coordinating role, working with line management and staff departments to develop and refine data processing applications. The idea is to develop a comprehensive information management system that keeps track of a company's operations from the wellhead to the refinery to the distributor to the end user.
Professionals in the computer science field also are needed in most major oil company's exploration and production operations. Almost all explorationists now use sophisticated computer-generated images to study the earth's formations. Real-time data acquisition, primarily from well logging, is playing an increasing role in the search and production of petroleum. This means additional personnel are needed to develop and maintain software packages to support these necessary functions.
Administrators, using computers, are usually responsible for developing, maintaining, and supporting a company's personnel and payroll database. Other functions may include developing a system to forecast, budget, monitor, and report on a wide variety of company activities. And now, with the advent of the World Wide Web, there are jobs for web page designers and web maintenance personnel.
Computer operations specialists must be able to maintain a company's complex data center, as well as update hardware and software as necessary. Electrical engineering, telecommunications, or computer science professionals are needed to plan and install a common system using the latest technology. A computer analyst or systems engineer also must be able to keep up with the latest developments in both hardware and software.
COMPUTER SCIENTISTS AND SYSTEMS ANALYSTS
The rapid spread of computers and computer-based technologies over the past two decades has generated a need for skilled and highly trained workers to design and develop hardware and software systems and to incorporate these advances into new or existing systems. Although many narrow specializations have developed and no uniform job titles exist, this professional specialty group is widely referred to as computer scientists and systems analysts.
Computer scientists generally design computers and conduct research to improve their design or use, and develop and adapt principles for applying computers to new uses. Computer scientists perform many of the same duties as other computer professionals throughout a normal workday, but their jobs are distinguished by the higher level of theoretical expertise and innovation they apply to complex problems and the creation or application of new technology.
Computer scientists include computer engineers, database administrators, computer support analysts, and a variety of other specialized workers. They work in areas such as applying theory, developing specialized languages, or designing programming tools, knowledge-based systems, or computer games.
Computer engineers work with the hardware and software aspects of systems design and development. Computer engineers may often work as part of a team that designs new computing devices or computer-related equipment. Software engineers design and develop both packaged and systems software.
Database administrators work with database management systems software. They reorganize and restructure data to better suit the needs of users. They also may be responsible for maintaining the efficiency of the database and system security and may aid in design implementation.
Far greater in number, systems analysts use their knowledge and skills in a problem-solving capacity, implementing the means for computer technology to meet the individual needs of an organization. They study business, scientific, or engineering data processing problems and then design new solutions using computers. This process may include planning and developing new computer systems or devising ways to apply existing systems to operations still completed manually or by some less efficient method. Systems analysts may design entirely new systems, including both hardware and software, or add a single new software application to harness more of the computer's power. They work to help an organization realize the maximum benefit from its investment in equipment, personnel, and business processes.
Some organizations do not employ programmers; instead, a single worker, called a programmer-analyst, is responsible for both systems analysis and programming. As this becomes more commonplace, analysts will increasingly work with Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) tools and object-oriented programming languages, as well as client/server applications development and multimedia and Internet technology.
One obstacle associated with expanding computer use is the inability of different computers to communicate with each other. Many systems analysts are involved with connecting all the computers in an individual office, department, or establishment. This "networking" has many variations and may be referred to as local area networks, wide area networks, or multi-user systems, for example. A primary goal of networking is to allow users of microcomputers- also known as personal computers or PCs-to retrieve data from a mainframe computer and use them on their machine. This connection also allows data to be entered into the mainframe from the PC.
Because up-to-date information-accounting records, sales figures, or budget projections, for example, are so important in modern organizations, systems analysts may be instructed to make the computer systems in each department compatible so that facts and figures can be shared. Similarly, electronic mail (better known as e-mail) requires open pathways to send messages, documents, and data from one computer "mailbox" to another across different equipment and program lines.
Analysts must design the gates in the hardware and software to allow free exchange of data, custom applications, and the computer power to process it all. They study the seemingly incompatible pieces and create ways to link them so that users can access information from any part of the system.
Computer scientists and systems analysts normally work in offices or laboratories in comfortable surroundings. They usually work about forty hours a week-the same as many other professional or office workers. However, evening or weekend work may be necessary to meet deadlines or solve problems. Given the technology available today, more work, including technical support, can be done from remote locations using modems, laptops, electronic mail, and even through the Internet.
Because computer scientists and systems analysts spend long periods of time in front of a computer terminal typing on a keyboard, they are susceptible to eye strain, back discomfort, and hand and wrist problems.
Computer scientists and systems analysts held about 828,000 jobs in 1994. Although they are found in most industries, the greatest concentration is in the computer and data processing services industry. This includes firms that design and install computer systems, integrate or network systems, perform data processing and database management, develop packaged software, and even operate entire computer facilities under contract. Many others work for government agencies, manufacturers of computer and related electronic equipment, insurance companies, and universities.
A growing number of computer scientists and systems analysts are employed on a temporary or contract basis, or as consultants. For example, a company installing a new computer system may need the services of several systems analysts just to get the system running. Because not all of them would be needed once the system
is functioning, the company might contract directly with the systems analysts themselves or with a temporary help agency or consulting firm. Such jobs may last from several months up to two years or more.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
There is no universally accepted way to prepare for a job as a computer professional because employers' preferences depend on the work to be done. Prior work experience is very important. Many people develop advanced computer skills in other occupations in which they work extensively with computers, and then transfer into computer occupations. For example, an accountant may become a systems analyst specializing in accounting systems development, or an individual may move into a systems analyst job after working as computer programmer.
Employers almost always seek college graduates for computer professional positions; for some of the more complex jobs, persons with graduate degrees are preferred. Generally, a Ph.D., or at least a master's degree in computer science or engineering, is required for computer scientist jobs in research laboratories or academic institutions. Some computer scientists are able to gain sufficient experience for this type of position with only a bachelor's degree, but this is difficult. Computer engineers generally require a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, electrical engineering, or math. Computer support analysts also may need a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, as well as significant experience working with computers, including programming skills.
For systems analyst or even database administrator positions, many employers seek applicants who have a bachelor's degree in computer science, information science, computer information systems, or data processing. Regardless of college major, employers generally look for people who are familiar with programming languages and have broad knowledge of and experience with computer systems and technologies. Courses in computer programming or systems design offer good preparation for a job in this field. For jobs in a business environment, employers usually want systems analysts to have a background in business management or a closely related field, while a background in the physical sciences, applied mathematics, or engineering is preferred for work in scientifically oriented organizations.
Systems analysts must be able to think logically, have good communication skills, and like working with ideas and people. They often deal with a number of tasks simultaneously. The ability to concentrate and pay close attention to detail is important. Although both computer scientists and systems analysts often work independently, they also may work in teams on large projects. They must be able to communicate effectively with computer personnel, such as programmers and managers, as well as with other staff who have no technical computer background.
Technological advances come so rapidly in the computer field that continuous study is necessary to keep skills up to date. Continuing education is usually offered by employers, hardware and software vendors, colleges and universities, or private training institutions. Additional training may come from professional development seminars offered by professional computing societies.
Systems analysts may be promoted to senior or lead systems analysts after several years of experience. Those who show leadership ability can also advance to management positions, such as manager of information systems or chief information officer.
Computer engineers and scientists employed in industry may eventually advance into managerial or project leadership positions. Those employed in academic institutions can become heads of research departments or published authorities in their field. Computer professionals with several years of experience and considerable expertise in a particular area may choose to start their own computer consulting firms.
Computer scientists and systems analysts will be among the faster growing occupations through the year 2005. In addition, tens of thousands of job openings will result annually from the need to replace workers who move into managerial positions or other occupations or who leave the labor force.
The demand for computer scientists and engineers is expected to rise as organizations attempt to maximize the efficiency of their computer systems. There will continue to be a need for increasingly sophisticated technological innovation. Competition will place organizations under growing pressure to use technological advances in areas such as office and factory automation, telecommunications technology, and scientific research. As the complexity of these applications grows, more computer scientists and systems analysts will be needed to design, develop, and implement the new technology.
As more computing power is made available to the individual user, more computer scientists and systems analysts will be required to provide support. As users develop more sophisticated knowledge of computers, they become more aware of the machine's potential and better able to suggest how computers could be used to increase their own productivity and that of the organization. Increasingly, users are able to design and implement more of their own applications and programs. As technology continues to advance, computer scientists and systems analysts will continue to need to upgrade their levels of skill and technical expertise, and their ability to interact with users will increase in importance.
The demand for "networking" to facilitate the sharing of information will be a major factor in the rising demand for systems analysts. Falling prices of computer hardware and software should continue to induce more small businesses to computerize their operations, further stimulating demand for these workers. In order
to maintain a competitive edge and operate more cost effectively, firms will continue to demand computer professionals who are knowledgeable about the latest technologies and able to apply them to meet the needs of businesses. A greater emphasis on problem solving, analysis, and client/server environments also will contribute to the growing demand for systems analysts.
Individuals with an advanced degree in computer science should enjoy very favorable employment prospects because employers are demanding a higher level of technical expertise. College graduates with a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering, information science, or information systems also should experience good prospects for employment. College graduates with noncomputer science majors who have had courses in computer programming, systems analysis, and other data processing areas, as well as training or experience in an applied field, should be able to find jobs as computer professionals. Those who are familiar with CASE tools, object-oriented and client/server programming, and multimedia technology will have an even greater advantage, as will individuals with significant networking, database, and systems experience. Employers should increasing seek computer professionals who can combine strong programming and traditional systems analysis skills with good interpersonal and business skills.
Other workers who use research, logic, and creativity to solve business problems are computer programmers, financial analysts, urban planners, engineers, operations research analysts, management analysts, and actuaries.
As in any other major industry, the petroleum field requires a vast number of business professionals to help keep the company running. Applicants with a background in finance, preferably those with a master's of business administration, may work with the company's comptroller. Their duties may include working with cash, asset and liability management, as well as financial planning, forecasting, and economic analysis. They also may be involved in structuring the financing of large capital projects, a common occurrence in the petroleum business. As part of the finance team at a large petroleum company, a worker will probably have to deal with bank representatives, as well as other professionals from companies that may be participating in a joint venture.
Accounting professionals in a petroleum company are responsible for preparing finance statements and reports, conducting audits, and maintaining internal financial controls. Other duties may include monitoring and assessing the ongoing performance, as well as working on financial and economic planning and analysis. Most workers in this department become specialized in any of a number of areas, resulting in the promotion to another facility or location for general managerial responsibilities.
Another career available to business or industrial and labor relations graduates with advanced degrees is human resources. This field covers a wide range of duties, including employment, compensation and benefits, labor relations, career development, and human resource planning.
A promotion to human resource representative would entail working with employees in their day-to-day relations with the company or becoming involved in labor relations. A human resource representative also may be responsible for implementing programs designed to promote career and management development.
There are numerous other opportunities in the petroleum industry, including the following:
- Chemical equipment controllers and operators control or operate equipment to control chemical changes or reactions in the processing of industrial or consumer products. Common types of equipment are reaction kettles, catalytic converters, continuous or batch-treating equipment, saturator tanks, electrolytic cells, reactor vessels, recovery units, and fermentation chambers.
- Tenders tend to equipment in which a chemical change or reaction takes place to process chemical substances into industrial or consumer products. Common types of equipment are devulcanizers, batch stills, fermenting tanks, steam-jacketed kettles, and reactor vessels.
- Chemical plant and system operators control and operate an entire chemical process or system of machines, such as reduction pots and heated air towers, using panel boards, control boards, or semiautomatic equipment. Their training includes more than a year of on-the-job training.
- Pipe layers lay glazed or unglazed clay, concrete, plastic, or cast-iron pipe for storm or sanitation sewers, drains, water mains, and oil or gas lines. They also may grade trenches or culverts, position pipe, or seal joints.
- Pipe fitters align pipeline section preparatory to welding. They also signal the tractor driver in placing pipeline sections in proper alignment and insert steel spacers.
- Roustabouts assemble or repair oil field equipment using hand and power tools and perform other tasks as needed. There were 28,000 employed in 1994 and their numbers are expected to decline between 1994 and 2005. They can be trained on-the-job in as little as one month.
- Separating and still machine operators and tenders operate or tend machines, such as filter presses, shaker screens, centrifuges, condenser tubes, precipitator tanks, fermenting tanks, evaporating tanks, scrubbing towers, and batch stills to extract, sort, or separate liquids, gases, or solid materials from other materials in order to recover a refined product or material.
One unique career opportunity in the petroleum industry is the food preparation business. Drilling companies are usually responsible for hiring a catering company that specializes in feeding rig workers, particularly offshore where menus must be planned in advance and supplies brought in by boat or helicopter. Working for a catering company is ideal for someone who likes to cook, but would like a career out of the traditional restaurant or industrial setting.
Petroleum-related companies also employ secretaries, clerks, warehouse personnel, truck drivers, and laborers, as well as welders and mechanics. However, because of the general nature of these jobs, there is probably less opportunity in these types of careers than in a specialized area of the industry. In these type of general career opportunities, salaries and training will vary from company to company.
For general information on these types of jobs, check the most current edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Both are published by the U.S. Department of Labor and may be found at a city or county library, at a state Department of Labor's Job Service Office, or on the World Wide Web.