To get a better understanding of the career paths available to young people in the gas and oil industry, nearly 200 seniors from John Marshall and Cameron high schools heard from representatives from several local gas companies about their own careers Tuesday at John Marshall High School.
Organized by Energy Speaks Education, students spent the day listening to presentations on the types of jobs available in the industry, the different degrees students would need to obtain to enter the field, salary amounts and the nature of the work on gas and oil sites. Companies represented included the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, Eagle Manufacturing Company, Gastar Exploration, Select Energy Services and Baker Hughes.
"These jobs are demanding and challenging, but they are rewarding," Lydia Williams, a regional sales representative, said to a group of students. "You do not work normal hours. You could be on a site for 12 hours or even stay overnight if you have to. There are days when you leave on Monday, but you might not come back until Wednesday. It's a job where you have to be open-minded."
Photo by Sarah Harmon
Lydia Williams, a sales representative for a gas company, talks to Marshall County seniors Kris Haught, right, and Kyland Evans about job opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
Students also learned the different skills the industry seeks in potential employees such as experience in welding, a strong math background or a degree in engineering. Students were also encouraged to look into less obvious skill sets such as a background in information technology or in automechanics.
"There are several jobs in this industry that you don't need a college degree," Tom Rowan, a drilling and completions engineer for Gastar Exploration, said. "Mostly, the industry wants people who are willing to work and are clean of drugs. If you show willingness to work, you will be promoted. It's a great business to get into right now."
According to Energy Speaks representative Jessica Hall, Energy Speaks is an educational outreach from the West Virginia Independent Oil and Gas Association partnered with the American Petroleum Institute to "get the word out" about the industry and show the benefits it has for the state.
"We saw a real need to get into schools and let (students) know what opportunities are available for careers and educating teachers on how to get this information out to the classrooms," Hall said. "The representatives we bring aren't here to hire, but we want to students to know what careers there are right out of high school or available with a technical degree or four-year degree. We'd rather hire in West Virginia and want them to know that the jobs are there."
In addition, middle and high school faculty participated in a staff development program after school hours on the impact of the oil and gas industry on classroom instruction.