Generally speaking, education is an important factor to a successful career in the oil and gas industry. It is not necessarily a make or break requirement, as there are employment opportunities available to candidates without an extensive formal education. Many employers sometimes value experience over education, and entry level positions offer a great starting point. For example, those holding roustabout jobs or general laborers only require a good work ethic and good physical condition. Other entry-level positions such as deck hands and oilers also only require raw physical labor.
However, if you are interested in entering the petroleum industry as a chemical engineer, or researcher, than the proper educational background is necessary. One position that requires extensive education is the petroleum engineer. Petroleum Engineers are responsible for estimating the volume of recoverable resources through detailed understanding of crude oil's physical and chemical properties. Because of the highly technical nature of the position, a solid background in physics, chemistry and mathematics is essential to be a competitive candidate for this position.
In the petroleum industry, a bachelor's degree in chemistry will provide a general background for potentially any position. The industry in general is a high paced, high pressure environment, and job candidates need to be prepared to deal with such an environment. A degree in chemistry will go a long way in securing a position such as process engineer, which pays upwards of $130,000 per year. A physics degree can also go a long way in securing a future in the oil industry as possibly an operations supervisor.
Advances in technology have increased demand for computer literate workers. Research is a major component for increasing corporate profits by discovering new products or finding a place in the economy to sell more quantity of product. That is why it is important that job candidates have the proper background in computers in order to properly calculate and reduce the cost of research and development. Computers are also used to not only calculate optimal drilling points, but to find areas which could yield the most oil.
Business background is also a catalyst in finding a fulfilling career in the petroleum industry. Although a good majority of the work is done in the chemistry labs and on the rigs, it is still a business at the end of the day. Accounting is always useful to help companies balance profits and spending, while marketing and public relations backgrounds are crucial to educate the public about the product, the company and any technological or environmental advances.
Today's oil industry is more competitive than ever. For some positions, like petroleum engineer, a bachelor's degree may not be enough as more and more people are pursuing their masters and Ph.D.