Industry Employment Outlook – Energy

Energize Your Future  |  High Pay, Challenging Work

Published in the May/June 2012 issue of print Search & Employ®

There is good news about energy: The upstream oil and gas sector of the United States economy grew 4.5 percent in 2011, more than twice as fast as the gross domestic product (GDP), which rose only 1.7 percent. The upstream sector is the part of the economy that involves searching for and producing crude oil and natural gas. That sector also supports other parts of the economy because it has a long and extensive supply chain.

Technology has revolutionized oil and gas extraction over the past decade, leading to the remarkable growth in upstream oil and gas. Innovations in renewable electricity generation have also contributed to job creation and economic growth. For example, a survey released by the The Solar Foundation in late 2011 indicated that nearly 50 percent of solar energy companies planned to increase hiring in 2012.

Our need for energy means that the energy field offers a lot of job security. After all, energy plays crucial roles in our modern life, from leisure activities to every aspect of manufacturing goods, providing services, and communicating. We use more energy each year, even with all of our efforts to conserve it. Nearly every part of the United States has electrical power, so there are energy jobs in just about every location – and patient job seekers should be able to find opportunities in the geographical areas they prefer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a part of the United States Department of Labor, projects an overall decline in energy employment between now and 2016. However, the decline is due to the fact that the industry is working smarter, not a smaller demand for energy. Plus, other BLS statistics show the energy sector has a graying workforce, and that many energy employees are nearing retirement. Even better, energy careers pay well above the national median for all occupations.

Careers in the energy sector range from the expected line workers, operators, dispatchers, engineers, customer-service personnel, and mechanics to the perhaps less expected IT workers, accountants, HR personnel, and more. While energy companies need workers to monitor and inspect power plants, they also need employees who can keep computer networks running smoothly, get the bills paid, and hire and retain the right personnel.

Many energy jobs in the field require that employees use their heads as well as their hands. A good understanding of tools and basic mechanics is a must for most of those who work in the field. Problem solving is helpful on every level, and employees with science and math backgrounds tend to have easier times securing positions. Good communications skills are also essential. In addition, some energy jobs require off-hours shifts and possibly being on-call, especially during abnormal events such as power outages.

If you’re concerned about injuries or dangerous assignments within the energy industry, don’t be. On average, the energy field has fewer injuries than average for all industries. Federal and state regulations ensure that all energy organizations take extra safety precautions on behalf of their employees – and their customers.


About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers