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Want to work in the Bakken? Here’s what to expect

Sarah Montgomery, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Shale Plays Media, has become an expert all things Bakken. With her hand in the oil and gas industry for several years, she’s seen it all. After talking to tons of CEOs alongside truck drivers and roustabouts, she’s talked to hundreds of people about what it takes to be successful in the oilfields all across the country. “When I opened my email this morning, and it is always the same—an email from someone that I don’t know, asking how to get a job in North Dakota,” she states in her blog, ChickOil.

Today, she shares her tips for success in the Bakken, tips that can be applied to shale plays across the country.

Current Stats: There are currently 22,000 available jobs in North Dakota, and with the state unemployment rate below 2%, it’s fairly easy to find a place that will hire you. Finding a job isn’t the problem. A great place to start is JobsND.

Where most people fail is the planning that is involved to survive in the region.  


Sarah Montgomery | Shale Plays Media

1. Don’t come alone


Many people arrive alone. This should be avoided if possible. Some of the biggest challenges are not having access to immediate money and loneliness. It could take up to 3-6 weeks to get your first paycheck, and that is if you have a job lined up. Making a deal with a significant other or friend can be beneficial. Have one person start in oil, and the other in services, such as a restaurant. This will give you the ability to bring in the big paycheck while having day-to-day needs met. Once the oil payday happens, the supporting “partner” can then look for work that better suits his or her desire. I encourage families to come to ND together when it’s an option. The schools, communities, and people here are fantastic – and sparing the expense of traveling back and forth to visit more than compensates for the higher cost of living.

 2. Leave your drugs at home


This sounds like a no-brainer, but this is the BIGGEST reason why people have to leave. The oil fields are strict when it comes to drug testing. There is a 0% tolerance level due to our high safety standards.  If you’re fired for a drug infraction, it is nearly impossible to get hired into another oil-and-gas-related position. I promise, the financial gains are well worth it; your bank account will thank you.

 3. Rental management companies


It is much easier to get a home now than it was before, but housing can still be an issue.  Call the local rental management companies and have them pre-check your credit. Find out the price ranges and deposits. Most rentals won’t allow animals, so be upfront with the rental companies so they can better serve you.  The more places that pre-approve you, the better chance that you’ll have of avoiding a few weeks in a hotel. Williston, ND is now the most expensive city to rent an apartment in the United States. Do your homework and know exactly what you’ll need for your move-in costs and have it ready before you arrive.

 4. Have a vehicle and AAA


In the Bakken, every major area is separated by at least 100 miles. Many newcomers take a train or fly into the region, but you will need a vehicle; preferably a 4 wheel drive. AAA is very inexpensive, and they have great service in the region. In the freezing temperatures it is important to have a plan in place in case you are caught between towns and need a tow, gas or a flat to be changed. I use their services religiously and have never had an issue.

 5. Have a hobby


Whether you are learning a new language, playing fantasy football, working on an online degree, or exercising, it is important to keep busy. When there is nothing to do, it is easy to get into a habit of drinking, gambling, or sitting at a bar for hours. This can be expensive–and frustrating. Put together personal goals that will better yourself and invest in those. There are many online services that give free college classes, books, language classes, or a better understanding of Oil & Gas industry.  Continually invest in yourself so if you ever want out of the oil business, you will have more skills to offer another company.

All images are from Getty Images via NewsCred.


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