Finding an Oil Patch Job in Texas: The Boom of 2012 (and Ongoing)


It’s time to talk about the 2012 (and ongoing) oil drilling boom in Texas. Many readers are familiar with my posts discussing employment possibilities in North Dakota, working the Bakken shale oil formation. Some of those readers even found employment in North Dakota and/or Montana by using the input found in the comments.

Note: My Texas contacts report that, at least in their work areas, the boom has been a bit “up and down” these past several months (this being early October of 2013). That being the case, calling around to Job Service offices and checking out a few online newspapers for Help Wanted ads might be a good move before heading thataway to get some face time with prospective employers–but it’s still very much worth checking out.

This has been especially true for truck drivers, both those with prior experience and those just now obtaining their commercial licenses (CDL’s).

In recent months, however, our North Dakota contacts have been reporting a bit of a slowdown in the Bakken…whereas a Texan with the user name of CrewJohn is reporting a serious uptick in north Texas employment opportunities. He recently got a restaurant running the way he wanted it, left it on auto-pilot, got himself a CDL…and went to work, just like that.

CrewJohn reports that he’s running a vac truck in Palo Pinto County, Jack County, Wise County, and Denton County. If you were to get out your protractor, fix the pointy side at Fort Worth, and draw a quarter circle from Mineral Wells (west) to Denton (north), you’d have a pretty good picture of where he’s driving right now, making the big bucks.

Or at least the medium-not-so-bad bucks.

Starting pay in the area is running in the $17 per hour range, which is a full $5 better than the $12 reported in most Texas plays a year or so ago. In the oil patch, with time and a half for overtime and 60 hours per week being the non-boom norm, you’re looking at $60,000 annually, easy–before any raises or extra bumps in case you’re lucky enough and inclined to work night shift.

CrewJohn also reports that every country road (not the freeways) in the area is festooned with signs screaming for CDL drivers.

Were I to go back into the trucking business, Texas is where I’d be heading. The milder climate (compared to North Dakota winters) is something my wife with all of her disabilities could tolerate as long (as long as we had air conditioning in our residence for the summer months). Not having to invest in extreme cold weather gear would go a long way toward making up for that extra buck or two in starting pay. And having to chain up only when it rains instead of every shift for six to nine months of the year…bonus!

CrewJohn's Texas work truck.

CrewJohn’s Texas work truck.

As with any oil patch job hunt, having that CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) is often a requirement and always a plus. Not all jobs in the industry are driving jobs by a long shot, but most bosses like you to have that license “just in case”. Likewise, a CDL (with a clean or nearly clean driving record) is a Golden Ticket. The competent commercial driver is seldom out of work for long at any one time unless he or she chooses to be.

Even down here on the Mexican border in southern Arizona, where I was unable to find work and eventually turned to writing and built my own house, the choice to remain unemployed was just that: A choice. I could have headed on up to Tucson and hired on with any one of half a dozen OTR (over the road, long haul) carriers in half a heartbeat.

True, that choice would have meant leaving a disabled wife alone in a camp trailer in the middle of a border invasion by thousands of illegal immigrants while I was gone trucking for weeks at a time. I never said it was an attractive choice. but it was a choice.

In the oil patch, you’re home on a regular basis, usually daily–even if you’re not likely there for very long. But it is shift work, and it does pay better than long haul driving.

You go, Texas. It’s nice to know that when we think of oil, we can still think of you.

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