Pipelines carry the lifeblood of our economy in the form of oil and natural gas. These critical energy pathways require qualified and hard-working individuals to not only build them, but keep them up and running with minimal downtime. Getting a job in this industry is competitive, but like any other job, you can get into this career by making smart moves.
Take honest stock of your educational and professional background. Designing and building pipelines requires engineering education and experience. Working as a maintenance person will involve training, but if you have a background in construction -- or working on another pipeline -- you have a better chance at a second look from an employer.
Get a physical to assess your current physical condition. Pipeline -- and oil field -- work is usually physically demanding, taking place outdoors and in a variety of harsh conditions. Employers prefer workers in better condition to remain effective in rough terrain and less than perfect weather.
Gather any other job-specific certifications that will give you an edge. Skills like welding, pipefitting, sheet metal work and concrete laying are all things that you should highlight on your resume. Some jobs -- like working in a pump station -- might require knowledge of electrical engineering or knowledge of machinery operation. Don't leave out any information that might exclude you from one of these competitive positions.
Locate where the pipelines are, and how many oilfields the company operates in the area. Oil pipelines crisscross the entire country, with clusters in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Ohio. Natural gas pipelines are found predominantly on the East and Southern coasts.
Search on the Internet to locate employers or representatives potentially discussing job openings on message boards and forums. Head to the websites of those companies to respond to open job listings.
Call your target company's human resources department to determine if they have any open positions not listed online. This happens frequently enough that it's often worth the extra effort.
Subscribe to industry newsletters. Many times jobs are posted here, with the knowledge that their readership is presumably qualified to respond.
Consult job posting boards focusing on the areas found to offer the most pipeline work. Websites like Monster and Indeed can guide your search. Koch, Iroquois and Kinder Morgan are all companies operating pipelines among many. Local newspapers also offer these services, which are paid for by employers rather than free like Craigslist, potentially indicating a more urgent hiring need.
Prepare and send your resume with all of your relevant work history, training and education. Ensure that you respond exactly as prescribed by the company in question, since preparing your documents incorrectly might disqualify you.
Be prepared to move. Pipelines are often built in more remote or rural locations that may preclude a traditional permanent residence. Also, if you're building a pipeline, the work may be temporary. Prepare anything in your personal life you need to accommodate your absence, such as getting out of a lease early or arranging new childcare or schooling programs for your kids who might be coming with you. Leaving town for work -- just like a military deployment -- can be tough on families. It's important to ensure your household is in order and everyone is okay with your leaving for an extended period, so you can focus on your new job.
- Research your prospective employer thoroughly prior to an interview. Being knowledgeable about what the company does is always looked at favorably during interviews.
- You'll need to pass a drug and alcohol screening as a condition for employment. Be sure you can do this prior to committing to a job.
- Careers in Oil and Gas: Pipeline Transportation Helpers, Labourers and Semi-skilled Workers
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- International Union of Pipeline Engineers: Pipeline Training
- U.S. Energy Information Administration: About U.S. Natural Gas Pipelines
- Aleyska-Pipe: Application Tips and Guidelines
- Oilprice: Oil Pipelines Criss-Cross the United States: Why the Fuss Over Keystone XL?
- Koch Pipeline: Our Operations
- Iroquois: Homepage
- Kinder Morgan: Homepage
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