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With full-time employment rates increasing steadily in oil-producing provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, there is little wonder why so many recent graduates and young professionals are finally fleeing their parents' houses to spark a career in the oil and gas industry.

But what about those accounting, law, and business graduates who may feel left behind by those new and successful groups of engineers, geologists, and technicians? Is there any room for them, too? According to Cheryl Knight, executive director of the Petroleum Human Resources Council, this blend of office-oriented professionals aren't as stuck for career options as they might believe.

She suggests people with a background in business, accounting, law, and even human resources could go into careers such as energy asset management, which is essentially developing, negotiating, and monitoring formal agreements around joint-ventures. There are a variety of accounting roles, such as operations and production accounting, where responsibilities include compiling, managing, and reporting financial and production data for companies in the oil and gas sector. Additionally, there are a number of active law firms that specialize in oil and gas, which makes an understanding of economic and environmental perspectives indispensible.

An industry that's always hiring

According to a 2013 report by the Council, Canada's oil and gas industry will sustain an estimated annual average of 890,000 to 1,000,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs across the country by 2022. The study also notes that employers will be most rampant in Western Canada, with Alberta employing nearly 65 per cent of the total workforce. Most noteworthy, the business and operations sector'including those with business, legal, or accounting experience'accounts for 37 per cent of all sectors in the oil and gas industry, (followed by drilling and servicing labourers at six per cent, to give perspective).

There's a high demand for human resources professionals, just given our labour demands, our shortages, and the growth prospects for the industry, says Knight. She adds that in this industry, people can progress through their careers and develop their interests, and there's a great flexibility to change career paths with know-how and experience. She adds that the industry is currently making hugeinvestments in technology.

Importance of education

Clara Lippert Glenn, president and CEO of The Oxford Princeton Programme, warns that prospective business and operation professionals should understand that they may need to update their credentials before advancing in the industry.

Let's say, for example, you just joined a large oil company as an accountant, says Lippert Glenn. You've just come out of school and you have fabulous knowledge of accounting, and you've passed all of your exams. What you don't know is the oil industry. And if you're going to be sitting there every day doing accounting in the oil industry, you've got to understand the life-blood of that business.

Fortunately, many workplaces offer specific courses that provide professionals the opportunity to develop their skills and advance in the industry. If not, you can always seek training from various programs, such as The Oxford Princeton Programme, which offers a wide selection of online courses. According to Lippert Glenn, it's the increase in technology that has allowed the oil, gas, and energy industry to boom.

I find the energy industry to be the most fascinating industry to work in, says Lippert Glenn. And why? Because it's such a global commodity. It impacts everybody's life. And even if you've never worked in the industry, guess what? You care about it because you probably drive a car or you flip a light switch every day ÔǪ I can talk to my grandmother and she knows exactly what I'm talking about. There aren't many sectors where you can say that. 

Oil and gas stats

In 2012, the oil and gas industry directly employed an estimated 195,200 people within the upstream and midstream petroleum sector. That's 94,100 oil and gas services workers, 72,000 conventional exploration and production workers, 23,300 oil sands operations workers, and 6,800 pipeline workers!

As of mid-2013, HR managers report that they are currently hiring business development representatives and sales professionals, service supervisors, and experienced fracturing and tubing technologists.

Photo: curraheeshutter/Thinkstock