The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Creating Opportunity for Women and Minorities

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 8, 2016

The oil and natural gas industry will offer employment opportunity for women and minorities over the next couple of decades. So says a new report by consulting firm IHS, which projects significant job  gains for women, African Americans and Hispanics between now and 2035.

thumbnailIHS estimates that by 2035 Hispanics and African Americans will hold nearly 40 percent of the 1.9 million direct jobs in the oil and natural gas and petrochemical industries, with 16 percent of the jobs being held by women. Details from the IHS report:

  • Hispanic workers will account for 576,447 jobs in the oil and natural gas and petrochemical industries by 2035.
  • African Americans will account for 131,512 jobs.
  • Women will account for 290,210 jobs.


The magnitude of these opportunities speaks to the continuing importance of the oil & natural gas and petrochemical industries in the U.S. economy as a whole as well as to individuals and families looking for well-paying career opportunities. As seen in this report, minority communities and women represent critically vital and available talent pools to help meet the industry’s future workforce demands.

Based on federal data, the average annual pay in the oil and natural gas industry is more than $100,000 – nearly $50,000 higher than the 2014 U.S. average. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“The oil and natural gas industry pays wages significantly higher than the national average and can provide tremendous career opportunities for women and minorities. These careers can help shrink the income inequality gap without spending a dime of taxpayer money.”

IHS breaks down employment opportunities by occupation. Fifty-seven percent of the jobs through 2035 are projected to be blue-collar – indicating great opportunity for workers with high-school diplomas and some post-secondary training. One-third of the jobs are projected to be in management and professional fields including engineering, geoscience and finance – opportunities for minorities and women who have college degrees in those fields. African American and Hispanic workers are projected by IHS to make up more than one-fourth of the management, business, and financial job opportunities through 2035.

Building this workforce of the future will require significant improvement in minority and female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics related disciplines at the primary and secondary school levels. Hispanics and African Americans will need to significantly improve high school completion rates, and secondary and post-secondary staff will need to be trained to communicate these employment opportunities – and the training required – to students. Industry will need to forge partnerships with higher education providers, especially at the community college level.

Of course, industry’s future employment needs will be associated with opportunities for energy exploration and development, which hinges on the United States taking the right energy policy path. Gerard:

“We have the natural resources and the technology to continue to be a global energy superpower that will provide major economic and national security benefits. But we need to abandon backward energy policies – like restricted access to federal lands, the rejection of infrastructure modernization projects and the Renewable Fuel Standard – that are anti-consumer and raise costs. With smart energy policies and leadership, we can help millions of workers, ranging from Americans with high school degrees and post-secondary training to those with post-graduate degrees. These new high paying jobs have the potential to be a strong tool in reversing the trends of poverty.”


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.