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Amid oil industry declines, some field jobs remain in demand

Every day there are new headlines announcing job cuts in the oil industry. Oil prices have taken a nosedive off a cliff and the effects are being felt in many different ways. Companies report big drops in production. Rigs in the Gulf of Mexico are going offline faster than desktop computers and workers from Texas to North Dakota are losing jobs.

Depending on the circumstances, that may be good news. Fewer employees in the field could translate into fewer work-related injuries and deaths. At the same time, as we've noted in previous posts, workforce reductions have been known to increase pressure on the workers who remain to do more with less. Companies might be inspired to give workplace safety policies short shrift, increasing the risk of accidents.

Just because pressures rise doesn't mean that a company's responsibility to maintain a safe work environment goes away. And workers should remember that their rights to receive benefits for injuries suffered on the job don't fly out the window, either.

That said, the outlook for work in the oil fields is not all gloom and doom. According to a report in PermianShale.com, there are at least five jobs that are expected to remain in demand in 2016. The reason, says the article, is because of retirements and natural attrition of workers out of the industry into other lines of work.

Here's where analysts say the best prospects are:

  • Drivers: Even with oil production down, what is getting pumped has to be loaded, transported and unloaded. Safe transport will require skilled drivers.
  • Operators: Day to day operations are continuing and where that is happening, skilled operators will be needed to keep systems running safely.
  • Foremen: If anyone has a direct influence on worker safety, it is these supervisors. Of course, a lot of other demands are made on their time, too.
  • Drillers: Average pay for these essential players in 2015 was estimated at more than $175,000. But considering the scope of the work they are responsible for, that should be no surprise.
  • Field technicians: These are what would be called entry-level positions in other industries. Those filling the slots usually do some of the hardest work for the least amount of pay.

Our hope is that everyone stays safe, no matter what position they hold.

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