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Careers in the Natural Gas Industry

In 2008, the natural gas industry employed 622,000 people directly and 723,000 people indirectly in the United States. The following profiles describe commonly held positions in the natural gas industry. Note that because oil and natural gas are closely related, they share many of the same job positions.

Engineer, Gas Processing - Midstream engineers are responsible for the processing of natural gas at the plant level. Junior engineers focus on the smaller scale operations of the plant. They usually have electrical, physical, or chemical engineering specialisms, or some of each. With more qualifications and experience, engineers tend to concentrate on the design of systems within the plants, and overseeing their installation and maintenance. Engineers also monitor the systems in the plant and record data about their behavior. Part of this process involves ensuring that the equipment for taking measurements is properly calibrated.

Scientist, Plant Corrosion - Scientists perform a variety of roles in the natural gas industry. Some scientists focus on understanding the chemical reactions that occur between natural gas and the plant itself. Corrosion within the many pipelines within a plant is a problem because it decreases efficiency by causing leaks and blockages. Scientists perform laboratory investigations to simulate some of the problems experienced in plants. They must be creative in their approach to problems.

Roustabout - This is a temporary low-level position of an unskilled worker on a drilling platform for oil and gas. It is a typical entry point into working in oil and gas fields. Tasks can include moving equipment, slinging loads for cranes, scraping rust, cleaning machinery, and finding lost materials. It is common for aspiring roughnecks to enter as roustabouts to gain experience of operations and life offshore. This difficult and challenging job is also considered by many to be exciting and adventurous.

Roughneck (Floorhand) - This is the entry level position on offshore rigs in the drilling section. The roughneck works in teams to connect new sections of pipes as they drill deeper into the crust. This is a very physical job that is often done in 12 hour shifts.

Offshore Chemist - Offshore Chemists collect and analyze samples and monitor application programs on an oil/gas rig. They monitor chemical processes on the rig, particularly which chemicals are mixed together. The chemist also prepares samples for compliance testing, both for the authorities and for customers. They also ensure that the chemical stocks in the plant are well managed. In addition, they ensure that the risks from chemical hazards are kept to a minimum.

General Operators - A variety of general personnel are needed to maintain the day to day operations of offshore life.

Offshore Installation Manager - The OIM has overall responsibility for the activities offshore. This position is sometimes compared to that of a ship's captain.

Radio Operator - Radio Operators control all movements of the helicopters, passengers and freight. They also communicate with ships in the area.

Crane Operator - The crane operator works high above the sea to load and unload cargo. The movement of the vessel calls for a high degree of accuracy.

Divers - Divers inspect and maintain the subsea structures. Technological advances mean that remotely operated equipment is being used more and more.

Medics - Medics deal with the day to day well-being and health of all the offshore personnel.