So you’re not a Geologist, Engineer, or millionaire, but you want to break into the oil business because it’s one of the largest global industries and many are making millions from it. You don’t have any previous oil industry experience and your degree, if you even have one, is in accounting or pre-Victorian basket weaving - but you know one thing for certain: You want to make money and you know that the oil industry is growing at a rapid rate.
The growth in the industry has opened many vacancies and you’ve read online that many jobs are available, but you haven’t seen the right opportunity for you. You may have also applied, but no one came calling. Your resume even says you're the right person for the job, but not a single email or call. You also don’t have loads of cash to buy land in oil rich landscapes across Alberta, Texas, or in even in the far depths of the Middle East. It seems like you’re doomed.
You’ve given up, but wish you hadn’t. The oil industry is full of millionaires and there seems to be no way for you to break into the industry with any gusto. Well, there’s some good news. You can do it the old fashion way – find an entry level job that pays about $65,000 per year somewhere on an oil rig. It’s a good start, and probably one you can brag about to your kids later on. But there’s a long line-up to land one of these, and even though there’s a tremendous demand, you will still need to go through a thorough selection process that might even cost you in travel. That’s not to say that these avenues cannot be ventured.
Of course starting from the bottom is a good way to break into any industry, but we would remiss if we didn’t explore creative ways to break in with more immediate results. Creative shortcuts are more exploratory methods that allow people without any previous experience to open doors that might have otherwise been closed. It’s not the path of resistance, but more like the path of exploration. It’s the road less travelled, but when you arrive at your destination it won’t really matter. Here are a three ways to break into the oil industry.
You don’t need to be on-site to be in the oil business. You don’t even need to be near a gas station or own a lawnmower, an electric car will do. Trading a commodity such as oil can be so financially rewarding, it’s no wonder top trading companies such as Vitol, Glencore, and Cargill earn a combined half a trillion dollars in revenue every year.
If you can’t land a job at the top 20 trading companies, then start with a small investment firm and specialize in oil trading or even brokerage. An oil broker is a paid middleman who arranges transactions involving the purchase and sale of oil. In most cases, brokers are generally licensed securities traders but others conduct remote trades over the telephone or the internet.
Investment firms often recruit college graduates who completed degree programs in topics such as finance to work as brokers. Some firms tend to look for people who have completed post-graduate degree programs in mathematics or related subjects since these individuals can usually make quick calculations involving large sums.
The skills these firms look for are not exclusive to graduates. Great sales skills, good with numbers, and being organized are about all you need. In some cases, brokers are even high school graduates who climbed their way up the firm after. Once you’re in, most firms invest in their brokers by having them attend regulatory training classes and other courses for required certifications.
Like other traders, an oil broker is paid on commission. Commission based income scares a lot of people and so if it scares you then it’s not for you, and neither is risk or money. Working on commission is taking charge of your performance. Successful brokers can have near-unlimited earnings. The sky is the limit. In addition to their commission based income, most brokers take it one step further and supplement their income by investing their own money into the oil market.
Because brokers have knowledge of the industry, they use it for their personal gain in addition to the firm’s gain. In the end, the process is the same for oil brokers – their job is try to make money by buying and quickly selling barrels of oil without ever having to take possession of the commodity.
You have a set of skills and probably a few years of business experience under your belt. It’s time to adapt those skills to the oil industry. You might not be an Engineer, but you probably have finance experience, selling experience, or even electrical experience. Either way, a growing industry needs people from all sectors of the workforce.
All that should bode well for you. If you have a set of transferrable skills such as selling, working with numbers, operating machinery, or even driving a truck, then you can transfer those skills to the oil industry. If you don’t think you have transferrable skills, then the first step is to think outside the box. You might have a set of skills you are just not seeing at a first glance.
By taking a step back to reflect on all that you do or all that you’ve done, you might stumble on a set of skills that can apply to the oil industry such as research, data entry, marketing, or even human resources.
If you can’t beat them or join them, might as well be an accessory to them or for them. Being in the oil industry doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work for someone who’s drilling, shipping, or refining oil. Building a small start-up as an accessory to the industry can be just as financially rewarding.
The beast that is the oil industry can have a lot of economic spillover that many small, medium, and large businesses can benefit from – including clean-up companies, uniform distributors, specialized legal services, or even hardware stores. It’s for this reason that many companies often have a niche set of customers generally from similar industries – especially early on. This is the result of building on a demand. Feeding the demand is a sure fire way to building a viable business.
When oil companies invade a territory, they don’t do it quietly. It generally involves an influx of workers, contractors, different companies, complexes, and even housing. This rush of activity is exactly where the money is. There’s no point in applying for jobs from a remote location only hoping to get called. Instead travel and scope out the place. Look for the flurry of opportunities that fly overhead and grab the one that makes the most sense. Then start an outfit that rides on the coattails of oil success. You might not feel too bad about paying so much for gas.
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