Entry-Level Oil & Gas Jobs & Salary

Jan 20, 2020

Those looking to begin their career in oil and gas can find jobs that do not require prior work experience, but may involve some on-the-job training. Learn about some of these jobs, their median salaries and education requirements.

Entry-Level Oil and Gas Career Options

There are several different entry-level careers available in oil and gas that span across many different fields, including construction, engineering and the natural sciences. Find out more about a few of these entry-level positions and their job duties below.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Petroleum Engineers $137,170 3%
Geological and Petroleum Technicians $53,300 7%
Geoscientists (Except Hydrologists and Geographers) $91,130 6%
Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas $53,800 15%
Roustabouts, Oil and Gas $37,580 15%
Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas $46,120 17%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Entry-Level Oil and Gas Jobs

Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers are not required to have previous work experience in a related occupation or any on-the-job training. These professionals figure out the best, and even new, ways to extract oil and gas from the Earth and then design the necessary equipment and methods for those extraction techniques. They test the equipment and run various analyses to constantly improve extraction methods, ensure that everything is working well and verify that equipment is properly maintained. Petroleum engineers need a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering or another field of engineering, and although not required, candidates with any work experience may be preferred.

Geological and Petroleum Technicians

Geological and petroleum technicians do not need prior work experience, but do undergo some on-the-job training. These technicians help engineers and scientists extract natural resources, including oil and gas, by installing equipment and running scientific tests. They may collect rock and soil samples to analyze and then present their results in detailed reports discussing areas that may contain natural resources that could be extracted. Geological and petroleum technicians usually need an associate's degree in an applied science, such as geosciences or geographic information systems (GISs), but they may be required to hold a bachelor's degree for some positions.


Geoscientists, who study various physical features and processes of the Earth, typically do not need related work experience or on-the-job training. Some of these scientists, called petroleum geologists, specialize in identifying oil and gas deposits by collecting and testing sediment and rock samples. This data can usually help these scientists predict how large the deposit of oil or gas is and then they can help engineers and other professionals develop the extraction site. Geoscientists generally need a bachelor's degree in geosciences or a related field to land an entry-level job, but some positions may need a master's degree.

Rotary Drill Operators

Rotary drill operators are not required to have prior related work experience, but do need to undergo a moderate level of on-the-job training to learn how to properly work various drills. These operators learn how to install and operate the different drills that are necessary to extract oil and gas from the Earth. The drills may also be used to collect core samples for scientists to test, and these professionals must carefully observe gauges and train their crew on proper procedures to keep drilling safe. Rotary drill operators are not required to have a formal education.


Roustabouts do not need work experience in a related job, but do need some on-the-job training. These workers go through training to learn how to repair and maintain field equipment for oil and gas extraction. This may require them to use power tools to move or bolt together pipes and pump parts, use equipment to detect any oil leaks and keep deck areas clean. Roustabouts do not need a formal education.

Derrick Operators

Derrick operators are also considered entry-level positions because they do not require related work experience, but these operators do participate in short-term on-the-job training. This training prepares them to operate pumps and derrick equipment that are used to move mud through drill holes in order to extract oil and gas. These operators inspect the equipment and pumps for proper positioning and any malfunctions and then repair any equipment as needed. Like rotary drill operators and roustabouts, derrick operators are not required to have a formal education.

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