Major Industries in Texas: Career Options & Education Requirements

Some of the major industries in the state of Texas include petroleum and natural gas, farming, steel, banking, and tourism. Most of these industries require postsecondary training, although the amount of education needed depends on the specialization. View article »

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  • 0:03 Overview of Industries…
  • 0:45 Petroleum & Natural Gas
  • 1:47 Farming
  • 2:53 Steel
  • 3:43 Banking
  • 4:22 Tourism

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Video Transcript

Overview of Industries and Requirements

Texas has a diverse economy with major industries, such as petroleum and natural gas, farming, steel, banking, and tourism. Individuals considering entering one of these fields may want to find out about potential career options, as well as the educational requirements for jobs in the industry.

Career options in the top Texas industries are numerous, with educational requirements ranging from as little as a high school diploma to as much as a master's degree. For example, customer service representatives, materials movers, and farmers can find jobs with only a high school diploma, while chemists, petroleum engineers, and marketing managers will need a bachelor's degree in a related subject.

Petroleum and Natural Gas

Workers in this field extract oil and gas used for heating homes, fueling cars, and manufacturing products, such as plastics, medicines, fertilizers, and man-made fibers. This field also encompasses oil and gas mining operations and designing the structures of mines and wells. Career options include petroleum engineer, petroleum technician, geophysicist, geologist, well-log analyst, and reservoir engineer.

Educational requirements vary depending upon area of concentration. For example, most extractors learn on the job. However, because of technological advances in the field, formal training is becoming increasingly important. Many postsecondary institutions in Texas have departments or schools dedicated to oil and gas extraction. Geological and petroleum technicians usually need to have an associate's degree and receive on-the-job training, while petroleum engineers, geologists, and geoscientists usually need at least a bachelor's degree.


The top two agricultural commodities in Texas are cattle and cotton. The former accounted for $10.5 billion in cash receipts as of 2012, while the latter brought in $2.2 billion. Livestock farmers feed and care for domesticated animals used for food, labor, and textile production. Cotton farmers are responsible for planting, growing, and harvesting cotton used in the making of clothing, yarn, and other cotton products. Career options include farmers, farm managers, ranchers, and agricultural managers.

Most farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers usually have a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training, but postsecondary training is becoming more important. These professionals usually also need some experience along with their education. Popular programs include two-year and four-year degrees in business with concentrations in agriculture, crop science, farm management, agronomy, or animal science. Some general course topics include:

  • Crop production
  • Plant disease
  • Animal husbandry
  • Veterinary science


Steel manufacturers produce steel for a variety of products, including automobiles, bridges, buildings, pipelines, and household appliances. Career options in steel manufacturing include material movers, metal casters, machine operators, millwrights, chemists, and metallurgical engineers.

Educational requirements vary depending upon level of employment. Millwrights, materials movers, and machine operators usually only need a high school diploma. However, because of technological advancements, many employers prefer to hire applicants with two-year degrees in mechanical or electrical technology, military experience in steel manufacturing, or apprenticeship training. Chemists and materials scientists need at least a bachelor's degree, with researchers needing graduate degrees for entry-level employment.


Savings and loans associations, credit unions, and commercial banks make up the three types of banks in the United States. Texas banks employ individuals to fill a variety of roles, including financial management, administrative support, customer service, sales positions, loan counseling, and accounting.

Positions in customer service usually require only a high school diploma and some on-the-job training. Positions in business, management, and financial operations typically require a bachelor's degree in business administration. Coursework varies depending on program and career track, but typical topics include:

  • Finance
  • Banking
  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Economics


Workers in the field of tourism manage businesses related to travel and hospitality, including hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Career options include hotel manager, travel agent, convention planner, food service manager, and marketing manager.

Tourism workers often obtain an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in hospitality management or business administration, depending on job duties. Food service managers, for example, typically need an associate's degree, while managers of lodging, casinos, resorts, and other travel or hospitality establishments often need a bachelor's or master's degree. Marketing managers also usually need a bachelor's degree. Some general course topics include:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Hospitality
  • Leadership
  • Business
  • Travel management

Individuals who are seeking employment in Texas can find many job options within the state's top industries. Jobs in each industry require varying levels of education for entry-level positions.

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