Field vs. office work in Oil & Gas Industry


New article from Fair Recruitment – written by professional Recruitment Consultant – Pawel Wodka

Choosing your career path is one of the hardest decisions faced by after finishing studies. For graduates of oil & gas exploration and production related faculties the main choice is whether to work in the field (on the rig), or in the office?

As usual in such situations each choice has its own pros and cons creating both opportunities as well as barriers in future career. One of the most important, if not the most important rule while considering the start of professional life is to do what you like and you’re good at. Following that advice, you are increasing your chances for achieving success, further advance and personal development.

Field work in oil and gas usually means rig, therefore I would like to point out usual requirements for people who are looking for rig jobs:

– Ability to handle stressful situation and think quickly.

– Stamina and flexibility to work outdoors in any weather conditions.

– Very good communication skills

– Ability to explain things clearly to others

– Ability to take direction and show initiative.

– HSE awareness

– Tolerance for travelling to and remaining in isolated locations for extended periods of time.

– Willing to walk long distances in uneven terrain carrying heavy loads.

– Enjoy outdoor physical activities and operating all-terrain vehicles.

-Willing to travel on boats, helicopters and other wilderness transportation.

Working on the rig usually means rotation. Rigs are located in the same places, where resources, hence there is quite a good chance of getting into remote location, distant from what we call civilization and very possibly with harsh weather conditions. It is to some extent adventurous characteristic however, confusing. Working on the rig means everyday routine described by shifts and enforced by HSE rules. Unlike some TV documentaries show, rig work can be boring. But still you should expect the unexpected as the working environment is by definition hazardous one. So rather than adventure seekers, companies are looking for mature, responsible people with strong character and safety awareness.

Although higher education is not necessary for such work, due to international character of rig personnel, good communication skills are a must. That means good knowledge of English but also an ability to talk to and get along with people of different origins with different characters, which is even more important because, you will spend some time with these people.

If all written above applies to you, then you should follow this path. Mainly because higher educated candidates with addition of hard work are very likely to advance within the company or within the industry. Another advantage comes from the fact, that having strong field work background should make you an interesting candidate for operators, contractors or service companies. Even in case of sales related jobs (sales of services, tools, etc.) previous rig experience is a plus.

One of the most important advantages of such work are salaries, which are among the highest within the industry. Even entry level positions are paid over the average, especially compared to non oil and gas industry.

Although, the work itself is a routine, especially young employees see it as possibility to travel to distant areas, which normally would not be seen, meeting interesting people or for some, even a test of their abilities. But as I mentioned above, at work, maturity and responsibility are highest regarded characteristics and even testing yourself in harsh environment should be done in accordance to safety rules.

Last but not least, many young employees like the rotations. Mainly because number of days off, gives the opportunity to realize their plans related to private life.

Now, let us sit in the office, where following characteristics are required:

– Usually good knowledge of maths / physics / science.

– Understanding of engineering principles.

– Ability to understand and present scientific data.

– Ability to explain things clearly to others both verbally and in writing.

– Having an inquiring and analytical mind.

– Ability to work independently as well as part of a team.

– Focus on detail.

– Ability to solve complex scientific problems.

– Ability to work with sophisticated computer programs for data analysis.


First what comes to mind while thinking about office work is stability. Usually, after going through trial period you would be offered permanent employment. In many cases, that also means working in the same place, most probably in a big city, where offices are located. In case of office jobs, higher, industry related education is currently a must. That means, that majority of your colleagues will have similar background.

One of the main characteristics of such jobs is constant development of professional skills, which is reflected in large number of different trainings and courses. Due to high cost of specialist trainings, office workers should see it as one of the most important benefits, which should compensate lower than rig salaries. However, these still are attractive in relation to other industries and are supported by different benefits.

Office work does not bring excitement similar to field work but can also be challenging, especially in case of science oriented projects. Nevertheless, the main advantage is the stability, which allows you to think about starting your own family without fear of long absence periods.

Coming back to reality, we know that due to limited number of job offers for graduates you may be forced to take the offer that is on the table at specific moment. But even facing such situation, you should remember to take a while to think about the offer. Sometimes wrong choice may break your career in the beginnig, so it is useful to consider your priorities ie. stability vs. better salaries, regular working hours vs. shifts and rotation. Even physical fitness can be an issue. It is possible, that passing on one offer may give you a chance to find job, where you will have opportunity to develop yourself into highly regarded professional. Especially now, when almost all surveys show a huge gap in oil and gas workforce both field and office based. This situation should open doors for successful career, which I wish for all of you.

Also, at this time of the year, I would like to wish you all the best during your exams and searching for dream job. But most of all, have a great holidays!


this article is written by:

Pawel Wodka

Recruitment Consultant


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About author

Barbara Pach

Marketing Manager of YoungPetro; Student AGH University of Science & Technology in Cracow; Poland SPE Student Chapter

View all posts by Barbara Pach