Skip to Main Content

Potential Labor Pool

Between FY12 and FY16, nearly 1.5 million service members in a wide variety occupational categories separated from the military. This section presents more information about the potential number of veterans who may be seeking employment and the technical and nontechnical skills they possess.

Veterans Employed in the Oil and Natural Gas Industry

Significant numbers of veterans have already found that their military experience, technical and non-technical skills match well with jobs in the oil and natural gas industry, and they are taking advantage of the career opportunities available in the industry. Over the last several years the number of veterans working in the oil and gas and petrochemical industries has been growing with nearly 185,000 veterans employed in 2014. These veterans accounted for 10.5% of the nearly 1.8 million oil and gas employees in 2014, filling positions in all sectors of the industry and across all regions of the country. In fact, the oil and gas and petrochemical industries consistently employ larger shares of veterans than both the government and the private sector.

Number of Potential Veterans

Number of Separating Service Members in Military Components by Fiscal Year (FY12 - FY16)

The Number of Separating Service Members in Military Components by Fiscal Year chart shows the number of service members who separated from the military during the five-year time period of FY12 – FY16. For civilian employers, the important differentiator between the active and reserve components is that individuals in the reserve component typically hold full-time civilian jobs while maintaining a military service obligation. These individuals have gained skills and experience from both their civilian and military job duties and related training. Individuals who serve in the active duty component, on the other hand, will be potential civilian job candidates upon transition out of the active component. During the three fiscal years shown, nearly one-million service members separated from the military.

Qualifications of Veteran Candidates

The military provides intensive occupation-specific training to its service members in a wide range of occupational areas. Service members have an opportunity to apply and hone these skills through on-the-job training and experience in what are often challenging work environments. The range of occupational areas in which separating service members perform are shown in the figure below. The largest percentage of enlisted personnel performed in Military Specific occupations which include infantry, weapons systems, and command functions, followed by Installation, Maintenance and Repair, Office and Administrative Support, Construction and Extraction, and Transportation and Material Moving. Although not shown, the largest number of separating officers were classified in Management occupations, followed by Military Specific, Healthcare, and Transportation occupations.

Percentage of Separating Enlisted Personnel in FY15 by O*NET Occupational Category

Number of Separating Service Members by Occupation

Between FY12 and FY16, over 1.46 million service members on active duty and in the Guard and Reserves separated from the military. Based on the military occupations of these transitioning service members, many of them would be an excellent fit to begin a career in the oil and natural gas industry. The table below shows the number of transitioning service members in the top jobs in the oil and gas industry by occupational category. The largest numbers of separating service members are in the skilled blue collar and office and administrative support occupational categories.

Number of Separating Service Members in Top Jobs by Oil & Gas Industry Occupational Categories
Occupational Category FY 12 FY 13 FY 14 FY 15 FY 16 Total
Management, Business and Financial  32,135   28,146   34,759   32,596   30,925   158,561 
Professional and Related  124,854   110,447   132,354   124,330   122,579   614,564 
Service  46,081   45,259   51,509   44,818   46,388   234,055 
Office & Administrative Support  95,686   85,293   98,763   89,322   92,838   461,902 
Skilled Blue Collar  310,012   271,133   315,558   287,112   291,537   1,475,352 
Semi-skilled Blue Collar  140,412   122,109   141,029   126,856   133,734   664,140 
Unskilled Blue Collar  26,020   22,785   25,916   24,207   26,379   125,307 
Note: Because some military occupations match up to more than one of the top oil and gas occupations, there may be some double counting across categories.
Source: Analysis of DoD, Defense Manpower Data Center data

Non-technical Skills

Figure 1: Non-technical or "Soft" Skills Gained in the Military

  • Handling work stress
  • Dependability and reliability
  • Persistence
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Conscientiousness and attention to detail
  • Teamwork and team-building
  • Critical thinking
  • Leading, motivating, and inspiring others to accomplish organizational goals
  • Oral communication
  • Written communication
  • Decision making/decisiveness
  • Training others

In addition to the technical skills embedded in the occupational categories, military service members are often lauded for the nontechnical or "soft" skills that they bring to the civilian workforce. A recent Rand corporation study examined how military training develops the nontechnical skills of military service members, and confirmed that military training advances the specific soft skills noted in the box. These skills are a vital part of the oil and natural gas industry just as they are in the military.