The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Shaping the Workforce of Tomorrow, Today

Kate Wallace

Kate Wallace
Posted December 12, 2017

We’re committed to cultivating a more diverse workforce, which will be critical to fostering the innovation, collaboration and ideas needed for growth of the natural gas and oil industry. Our future lies with this new wave of workers, whose vision will propel society forward. We believe that a robust workforce will make the industry stronger, equipping us to serve the families, businesses and communities who rely on us. Why? Because diversity drives innovation. The foundation of this new workforce will be young people like Ana Flenoy.

Ana has been a drilling engineer for Shell for more than three years. Prior to coming to Shell, Ana wasn’t sure what her future would hold. She was certain only of her love of math and science, and her goal to become an engineer. But after joining Shell’s Graduate Program, she quickly found her place in the natural gas and oil industry. The program provided her with invaluable hands-on experience, mentorship and training that fostered her passion for working in the industry.

Ana’s story is not uncommon. She is part of the great crew change – a wave of ambitious, bright millennials joining the natural gas and oil workforce. Millennials’ share of employment in these industries is projected to rise to 41 percent over the next decade. By 2035, nearly 1.9 million job opportunities are projected in the natural gas and oil and petrochemical industries. Through internship opportunities, apprenticeships, post-graduate programs, and college and high school recruiting, our industry is actively working to inspire, engage and secure young people who will be industry’s future workers.

NG&O Workforce Projection

The great crew change promises a new generation of workers – from drillers and welders, to engineers and scientists, to accountants and managers – with the drive, diverse ideas and talent to meet the world’s growing energy needs.

Expanding Opportunities and Inspiring Talent

As we move through the 21st century, the types of employment opportunities within the industry continue to expand. Today, the industry offers jobs spanning a wide range of interests, education levels and experiences.

In the natural gas and oil landscape, there’s still a great need for welders, electrical engineers and petroleum geologists. But job prospects now extend further thanks to the digital revolution spreading across the industry. As technology continues to advance, the demand for data scientists, software developers, business analysts and project managers increases.

Across the spectrum of education levels, experience levels and types of work, the industry prides itself on the income and benefits we offer employees. In fact, based on average annual wage data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average pay in the natural gas and oil industry is nearly $50,000 higher than the U.S. average.

Creating a Diverse Team                    

As an industry, we’re working to build a workforce that reflects our changing world because it’s better for our community and better for our business. Diversity in our workforce fosters innovation, which is crucial as the industry takes on new challenges and continues to grow.

While this means more young people rising through the ranks, it also means more women, minorities and veterans joining our teams.  

Through 2035, Hispanic and African American workers are projected to account for close to 40 percent of the total job opportunities within the industry. And the total number of women in the industry is also expected grow. More than 290,000 of the new job hires through 2035 are projected to be filled by women, with more than half of those positions in management or technical capacities..

Furthermore, as more than 1 million service members transition out of the military over the next four years, they will find abundant opportunities waiting for them within the natural gas and oil industry. Natural gas and oil companies nationwide are committed to adding talented veterans with unique work experience to their teams. In 2017,  21 of the companies that received the coveted Military Friendly Employer designation were in the energy, extraction, and utilities industries – more than any other, except trucking and finance. If you include manufacturing, a sector with very close ties to natural gas and oil, the number of designated military friendly companies jumps to 40.

Workplace Diversity

To expedite this growth and embrace a new era of employment, the industry is taking steps to recruit women, minorities and veterans. We are expanding awareness about career development and workforce training opportunities for people from all walks of life. In fact, because women and minorities are often not familiar with the job opportunities available in the industry, many natural gas and oil companies are highlighting women and minorities already working in the industry –  helping others to see what’s possible for them.


Kate Wallace is an associate of research and content development for the American Petroleum Institute. Before joining API she was a researcher and policy analyst at America’s Natural Gas Alliance, and worked on pollinator conservation programs and state wildlife conservation policies before entering the energy industry. Kate graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in Resource Economics, and earned her Master of Public Administration from George Mason University. She loves taking her dogs on hikes, travelling and navigating the northern Virginia/DC craft beer and wine scenes with her friends and family.