There is no shortage of exciting careers in the oil and natural gas industry. Energy professionals at all levels are constantly innovating to produce these vital resources with increased efficiency and safety.

While becoming an industry geologist, engineer or economist may be rewarding, the years of schooling it takes can be a barrier for some. Depending on your preference, trade school or technical training may provide a much better opportunity.

Whether it be welding, electrical work or working on a rig floor, technical careers can be just as rewarding, with a lower cost of entry in both time and money.

Take a look at these five oil and natural gas careers that don’t require four-year degrees:




 The oil and natural gas industry employs a wide range of technicians for every stage of an operation — from researching potential well sites to drilling on the site itself.

Construction technicians work to determine construction needs for well sites, gain necessary permits and supervise the construction of roads, power supply, how water is managed and the pipeline right of way.

Land technicians work with landmen to prepare documents needed for drilling. They also may be involved in researching specific pieces of land prior to drafting a lease agreement. Lease record coordinators will also work with lease analysts to set up and maintain these records.

Geological technicians work with scientists to find sources of metallic ore, natural gas or oil. These techs conduct geological surveys and operate equipment to help create maps of petroleum deposits and diagrams of potential drilling sites.

Automation technicians work to install and maintain equipment used in monitoring and controlling the pipelines, compressors and the wells themselves.

All of these positions require only an associate’s degree in a related field. The OERB offers courses for some of these technical fields through their PetroTech certification program. A full list of course descriptions can be found on their website –

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT) and Tri County Tech also offer programs for construction technology.



Like most of today’s modern technology, a drilling rig needs electricity to do its job. Massive amounts of power are needed to get the rig up, running and ready to drill.

Electricians work to test, troubleshoot, maintain and repair the various electronics used to monitor and control mixing, metering and pumping equipment. Most of these electronics focus on acquiring data and controlling equipment.

There are several specialties for rig electricians, ranging from an electrical and instrumentation technician, to a general electronics technician.

Those interested in a career as an electrician should consider a vocational school with programs in electronics, such as OSUIT’s associate degree in electronics.



At every step of production, welders are needed to use the latest in technology and metallurgy to make precise welds that keep the operation moving and the crew safe.

Those interested in a welding career have to look no further than the Tulsa Welding School, which has campuses in Tulsa, OK, Jacksonville, FL and Houston, TX.

In seven months, students can walk away with a professional welding certificate. The option to obtain an associate of occupational studies in welding only takes 16 months.

The average welder can have a solid career right out of the gate, with an average salary of $37,500 per year. But with more specialized training, welders can earn far beyond that.

Visit the Tulsa Welding School for more information on how to get into this rewarding career.



Time is money, so if a rig goes down due to a mechanical failure, specialists are needed to quickly get things back up and running.

Mechanics are those specialists. There are several types of positions for mechanics, including a maintenance technician, an automation technician and a drilling technician.

These mechanics are experts in their specialties, and work to install, maintain and troubleshoot any problems with the specialized equipment used in drilling.

Those interested in working as a rig mechanic should go to a certified trade school, where they can earn a two-year degree in automated manufacturing or diesel technology.

OSUIT has programs in diesel technology and even specific programs for energy technologies.

Tri County Tech in Bartlesville has a program in automated manufacturing and engineering tech.



While the other careers on this list require at least some technical training, becoming a floorhand, or “roughneck,” requires only a GED and an eagerness to work hard and learn.

Floorhands work in small teams and are responsible for handling the drill, casing and drilling equipment used on the rig floor. They also maintain and operate many of the semi-automated machines on the rig.

Right off the bat, this job can pay $60,000 per year, working only about six months on the rig. There are also opportunities for promotion to positions like motorman, derrickhand, assistant driller, driller, or even rig manager.

Those interested in a career as a “roughneck” can visit the OERB’s website for more information.



Now you know you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to have a rewarding career in the oil and natural gas industry. To see even more opportunities, visit the OERB’s career page . Also, visit OSUIT’s School of Energy Technologies to discover programs that prepare students for a variety of positions in the industry, including pipeline integrity and natural gas compression.

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