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Industry Highlights

The oil and natural gas industry is a rapidly growing industry with careers that span many fields and skill levels. In this section, you can learn more about the industry structure, top jobs, and career paths.

Overview of Industry

The oil and natural gas industry consists of three segments: Upstream, Midstream, and Downstream. Closely tied to the oil and natural gas industry is the petrochemical industry. These different segments include the life cycle of oil and natural gas from exploration, production and transportation through refining and delivery of oil and natural gas for use by consumers, and the creation of a wide range of consumer and industrial materials using oil and natural gas products. Many occupations span all segments, while some are focused on a specific industry segment.


This sector is responsible for searching and mapping potential well sites, leasing land, preparing it for drilling exploratory wells, and finally drilling and operating the wells that recover and bring the crude materials to the surface. Occupations in this segment include Engineers, Geoscientists, Derrick Operators, Roustabouts, Surveyors and Construction Laborers.


This sector is responsible for collecting, transporting, storing and marketing the oil and natural gas. This segment moves the materials along the downstream distributors for refinement and production. Occupations in this segment include Accountants, Pipefitters, Welders and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers.


This sector is responsible for refining and processing the raw materials into products for distribution and sale to consumers. Occupations in this segment include: Truck Drivers, Sales Representatives, and Administrative Assistants and Customer Service Representatives.


The petrochemical industry uses the chemical components of oil and natural gas as building blocks to create consumer and industrial products we use every day, including plastics, resins, and fibers. Occupations in the segment include, Chemical Engineers and Technicians, Machinery Mechanics, Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers and Weighers.

Oil and Gas Companies

In the United States, there are thousands of companies that work directly in oil and natural gas operations or that service and supply the industry. In fact, the oil and natural gas industry supports 8% of GDP in the U.S. These companies range from local companies that provide oil and gas services and operations in their area to global manufacturers selling products for oil and gas operations around the world. Types of companies that operate in the oil and gas industry include: manufacturers of equipment, drilling contractors, service companies, engineering companies, and inspection companies. Career opportunities exist within all types of companies in the oil and natural gas industry.

Top Jobs

The oil and natural gas industry offers a wide variety of lifelong careers for individuals in the industry. From architects, engineers, and accountants to welders, truck drivers, and pump operators, the industry has a wide range of both blue and white collar jobs at every education level. In this section, you can learn about the categories and types of jobs that are prominent in the industry, and see how to search for jobs in the industry that match your military training, education and occupational experience.

Overview of Top Jobs in the Industry

The top occupations within the oil and natural gas industry were analyzed to determine how well the job duties match to military occupations. These occupations are organized by function into 12 job categories. Hover over, or for touch devices, touch and hold to view the occupations in each category.

Architecture and Engineering Occupations
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations
Business and Financial Operations Occupations
Construction and Extraction Occupations
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations
Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations
Management Occupations
Office and Administrative Support Occupations
Production Occupations
Protective Service Occupations
Sales and Related Occupations
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations

Military Occupation Career Search

The Military Occupation Search function on the Veterans Energy Pipeline tool will help you to find civilian energy jobs related to your military occupation.

Step 1

Select your service

Step 2

Select your personnel category

Step 3

Select your military occupation

The results of your search will provide energy careers that match most or some of the duties of your military occupation, as well as provide additional information regarding typical wages, job outlook, and specific information about job responsibilities.

Note that this tool is currently limited to matching military occupations only to the top jobs in the industry, as determined by the number of available projected job opportunities. However, across the oil and gas and petrochemical industries there are nearly 1.3 million job opportunities projected through the year 2030 in a wide range of occupations. If you don't find a match for your military occupation, this does not mean that there are no jobs in the industry that match your qualifications—there are thousands of different jobs in the industry that require a wide range of education, experience, and expertise.

Career Paths

The oil and natural gas industry offers unique career paths to advance hard-working individuals into higher-paying positions with more responsibility. Entry-level positions are a great way to gain entry into the oil and natural gas industry, and through on-the-job experience, individuals can advance quickly in responsibility and salary. Growth is dependent on individual skills, knowledge, training, and experience. For example, veterans with training and/or experience in welding can choose the Pipefitter career path. Individuals more advanced in their careers can also find meaningful opportunities in the oil and natural gas industry. The experience and expertise of these individuals are valuable assets that can help transition you into more senior positions within the industry and provided continued opportunities for growth and development.

Pipefitter - Apprentice
Pipefitter - Journeyman
Pipefitter - Supervisor

National Security

National security is about more than military strength. For a country to be secure, it must also possess economic and energy security. All of these components are interlinked and vital to a strong nation. Learn more about how a vibrant oil and gas industry is a critical part of our national security.