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Wait ... what? Analysts? HR representatives? Lawyers?  These are people we wouldn't normally picture all greased up working in an oil field or operating a massive rig. Nevertheless, these are actual roles found in the oil and gas industry. To get a grasp of some of these areas, we spoke with Nancy Eaton-Doke of Nexen, a Calgary-based energy company, to give us a quick glance at careers that aren't particularly linked to the industry's more popular engineering roles. And, like most positions in oil and gas, you can be sure the pay is competitive. 


What you'd do:  There have been a few entry level type positions that would be called Counsel, says Eaton-Doke. Aside from supporting the Senior Counsel, lawyers in this industry handle all the messy legal bits the company might come across, from advising on securities filings in Canada and our neighbours to the south, to monitoring regulatory and legislative changes in Canada, as well as the U.S. 

What you need: A bachelor of law, a juris doctor would look pretty good as well. Career experience is important to have under your belt, with at least two to four years at a Canadian bar, and a background in a corporate, commercial or securities law firm. 

Human resources

What you'd do: Involves dealing with any matter concerning employees, their well-being, and recruitment. Here you might work in the compensation department, reviewing things such as employee salaries. Other tasks may include performance review and interviewing. Eaton-Doke describes graduates who work on alcohol and drug policies within the company and even accidental death and dismemberment policies. Also, in the world of oil and gas where you have employees living on site away from home, expect to make sure that workers are well-accommodated, and that they know where they're going for their first day of work, especially when they're assigned to a place like an oil field.

What you need: Communication skills, technical skills. We always ask for cover letters, since resumés tend to look the same, says Eaton-Doke. So if you could tell us something about yourself in the cover letter that's different from everyone else, it'll give your resumé more of an edge, and that can be an involvement in the community and competitive sports or having activities and interests.

Analyst—Workforce reporting and security

What you'd do: a specialized branch of HR, these folks are concerned with managing the human capital or workforce data issues within the company, and develop better strategies to address and coordinate these issues.  Here you'll work closely with integrated systems and databases, such as PeopleSoft for analyzing and reporting. As Eaton-Doke outlines, some of your responsibilities may include:

  • Contributing to company surveys; 
  • Developing queries and reports to generate reliable and consistent information for year end, Board of Directors, and other external reporting requirements; 
  • Preparing HR performance measures, scorecard, and general workforce/demographic analysis.

What you need: At least five years of business experience in an analytical role and proficiency with HR and payroll utilities, such PeopleSoft Query, Crystal Reports, etc.   

Community Outreach

What you'd do: Employees in this area work and consult with communities. They also ensure adherence to safety standards and regulations, and take measurements towards sustainability. This field is all about building and maintaining relationships, which also includes community investment and media relations. Many companies, for example, have various programs aimed at helping diverse Aboriginal communities. Nexen has a huge community involvement, says Eaton-Doke, we sponsor a lot of different areas, arts and culture, as well as a few things related directly to the business. 

What you need: A robust history of community involvement, at least five years of industry experience, post-secondary degree, background in environmental affairs, familiarity with stakeholder issues related to oil and gas. 

Environmental engineer

What you'd do: Environmental engineers develop approaches to help engineering teams minimize ecological footprints and adhere to environmental regulations. You'll work towards environmental approvals, assist with action plans, and carry out waste management initiatives. In the event of spills or contamination incidents, you would also help contain and resolve the situation as effectively as possible.

What' you need: A bachelor's or master's in environmental engineering is needed and at least three to five years working in the environmental sector or oil and gas industry.

Supply ManaGeMenT

What you'd do: [Supply management] would be working on the complete procurement process for assigned parts of the oil field or corporate purchases up to delivery to the end user, says Eaton-Doke, so start to finish of the procurement process. Indeed, supply chains are an industry all their own, providing all sorts of facets that you can get into. As part of the oil and gas industry, you'll be managing the logistical aspects of the company's operations. 

What you need: A bachelor's degree in business or training in economics, a background in engineering (preferred), and a designation in procurement, such as the SCMP (Supply Chain Management Professional), will help your chances.

Operations accountant

What you'd do: Money, money, it's so funny. Natural gas resources need a lot of resources to get out of the ground. And with all the money going into and out of an oil company (think of all that land bought, all that oil sold, all that equipment getting maintained, all those taxes to pay), companies need accountants to make sure the numbers check out. Operations accountants compile reports for stakeholders and auditors, and they make forecasts for the company's future.

What you'd need: A CMA, CA, or CGA designation wouldn't hurt. Add that to a couple of year's experience, and you'll be good to go.

Industrial electrician

What you'd do: Industrial electricians are one of the most sought-after trades groups in oil and gas. There's lots of equipment to maintain in an oil company. Industrial electricians make sure the power is running smoothly by repairing, installing, and testing electrical equipment, including wiring, conduits, and regulators.

What you'd need: Completing your electrician apprenticeship and qualifying as a journeyperson should be enough to get you started. If you get your master qualifications after three years, that's even better. Being familiar with safety guidelines like ESA and CSA will be a great asset.

Occupational safety officer

What you'd do: On the rig and around the office, everyone needs to stay safe. Occupational safety officers inspect work sites to make sure safety regulations are being met and come up with initiatives to improve safety in the workplace.

What you'd need: Usually you'll either need a background in sciences or engineering with further studies in occupational health or a degree focused entirely on occupational health. Being registered as a Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) will help a lot, but it requires three years of experience before you get to take the test and earn your designation. 

Photos: Michal Kodym/Thinkstock