When you think of people in the oil and natural gas industry, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, it conjures up images of executives in ties and men in hard hats covered in grease. And while those positions certainly exist, there are a variety of careers in oil and natural gas that you might not expect.

How is this happening? New technology and innovation are leading the charge.

It’s revolutionizing how the industry operates, and opening new careers in everything from IT administrators and developers, to computer engineers and data scientists. Advancements in drilling methods, like horizontal drilling, have created new areas for mechanical and drilling engineers to innovate. Increased emphasis on environmental stewardship has created new positions to explore during and after production. And the use of online and digital media has opened new doors in marketing, communications and social media.

Thanks to these advances, today’s oil and natural gas industry is ripe with opportunity for young professionals who are innovative, tech-savvy and ambitious. Over the next few months, we’ll be taking a look at some of those young professionals who are pushing our energy industry forward. Here are just a few:



April Dotson – Marketing Analyst III, Chaparral Energy

Joining the oil and natural gas industry as a temp in 2008, April discovered that the progressive atmosphere and knowledge used in daily operations was something she wanted to be a part of. As a Marketing Analyst, she’s supplying the company’s revenue department with an educated guess as to what price purchasers will use to calculate current estimated oil and natural gas revenue. If you’re interested in an industry career, her advice is to do it. “Just get started. There are numerous opportunities within the oil and natural gas industry for all disciplines.”


chriscobbChris Cobbs – Senior Lease Analyst, Ascent Resources

Current president for the Oklahoma City Chapter of Young Professionals in Energy, Chris knows the value of the next generation of oil and natural gas professionals and where it’s taking the industry. As a Senior Lease Analyst, he focuses his time working in the Utica and Marcellus shale divisions, maintaining land leasehold for counties and potential drilling prospects. His current focus is reaching out to get more young professionals involved. “The younger generation has continued to transition the industry into becoming more digital and fully integrated. We need all hands on deck to continue to work toward energy independence.”


kevinturnerKevin Turner – Production Engineering Manager, Chaparral Energy

Kevin’s aptitude for mechanically driven things originally drew him to the artificial lift equipment used in oil and natural gas wells. He’s since moved into production and operations as the next step in his education and development. Although his first impression of the industry was that it offered the most job opportunities because of its size, his experience has since changed his mind. “After some time in the industry, I have found my career is much more intellectually challenging than I originally expected. It has allowed me to travel the world, work on amazing projects and grow into a role I would not have made it to as a quickly in any other field.”


annezieglerAnne Ziegler – Flare Applications Engineer, Zeeco Inc.

Anne originally majored in chemical engineering, but fell in love with her job after interning at Zeeco and learning the business. As a Flare Applications Engineer, she uses the latest technology to design and sell customized flare systems to customers all over the world. Her thoughts on how her generation is changing the industry starts with their method. “We are already changing America’s energy future – I think we’re working smarter, safer and we care more about the impact this industry has on our environment.”


kyleapfelKyle Apfel – DevOps Engineer, Flogistix

The untapped potential of problems to solve in the industry is what drew Kyle to Flogistix. As a DevOps Engineer, he automates the tasks of his developers to make their jobs easier for remote monitoring wellsite compressors and vapor recovery units. As someone who had no previous oil and natural gas experience, his impression of the industry had changed quite a bit. “I originally thought that the industry was very cut and dry. You retrieve oil and natural gas from the ground to power your vehicles, that was it; not a lot of interesting problems. I’ve since learned that it’s the life and blood of the world, without it, many industries would struggle.

EnergyHQ is powered by the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board – OERB – which is voluntarily funded by the state's oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners. The OERB provides free environmental restoration of abandoned well sites and works to educate the state's citizens about the oil and natural gas industry. For more on the OERB's mission and how it is funded, visit OERB.com.