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How To Become A Registered Oil and Gas Landman

how to become an oil and gas landman

What An Oil and Gas Landman Does

There are landmen who work for timber companies, coal companies and other mining companies. Most commonly though a landman will work for an oil and gas company. Before an oil or gas well is drilled a professional known as a landman has first scouted out the area to be leased and has negotiated a deal with the property owners. The landman helps work out a deal involving how much royalty and up front lease payment the landowner will receive.  Oil and gas landmen must be detail oriented and perform due diligence, since even minor errors in a contract could cost millions of dollars. They must also be very people oriented, so as to assure property owners that their best interest is being kept in mind. They are, in a way salesmen, selling the idea of signing a lifetime oil and gas lease to sometimes skeptical landowners.

They must be aware of competing offers and have good negotiation skills to land the deal.  An oil and gas landman may spend hours pouring over old records in musty courthouse archives and searching computer databases and other sources to track down the owners of mineral rights. Sometimes tracking down all of the heirs to a parcel of land can be quite difficult. In addition, the mineral rights above or below a certain depth may be owned by other parties, or leased by other oil companies.  In a hot exploration area they may spend hours waiting for the documents they need while other landmen are using them. They may negotiate with both mineral right owners and those who just own surface rights but must be compensated for damages.

What Kind Of Money Does An Oil and Gas Landman Make?

The oil and gas industry is cyclical. There are boom and bust periods, as we have seen in 2008-2009. In good times an experienced, well connected landman can make over $400 a day.

Types of Oil and Gas Landman Jobs

A company landman works full time for an oil and gas company. They may perform much of their job at the corporate office. A company landman may also be an attorney or work closely with one. In addition to negotiating the lease of land for drilling they may negotiate deals with other oil and gas companies, draft contracts and ensure all parties are in compliance and assure that all parties comply with state and federal regulations.

Independent contractors working as field landmen do the bulk of the work in county courthouses, traveling up and down dirt roads to meet with farmers and ranchers and surveying the surface location of proposed wells. They may work only for one company at a time or for more than one company but in different areas to avoid conflict of interest.

Education Required

To be a member of the AAPL or American Association Of Professional Landmen (see below) a four year degree in either business or a science field is required.

Organizations Offering Landman Certification and Registration

Most states do not yet require petroleum landmen to be licensed. Typically an oil and gas landman belongs to the AAPL or American Association Of Professional Landmen. It is a voluntary organization that has grown to offer certification and registration services that are widely recognized.

You will first start out as a RL or registered landman, working with a Registered Professional Landman as a field agent. This requires you to be working in the landwork business actively, join the AAPL, and pass a test. Next you will want to become a RPL or registered professional landman. This requires five years of landwork and a another test. Ultimately you will want to become a Certified Professional Landman or CPL.

A Certified Professional Landman is required to fulfill all of the following qualifications:

From the AAPL Website: See the website for further requirements for both Registered and Certified Professional Landman

 Have at least ten "Credit Years" of full-time experience as a Land Professional;
b.      Be currently engaged, on a full-time basis, for at least the past two years, in the active performance of Negotiations Landwork;
c.      Score at least 70 on each of the 5 parts of the AAPL administered CPL exam;
d.      Have a bachelor�s degree from an AAPL approved university or college; and
e.      Be an active member of AAPL

A Registered Professional Landman is required to have fulfilled the following, among other requirements:

a.       Be an active member of AAPL;
b.      Be currently engaged, on a full-time basis, in the active performance of Landwork.
c.       Have a bachelor�s degree or higher from an AAPL approved university or college; or have four or more years experience in landwork;
d.      Pass the AAPL administered RL exam;
e.      Be sponsored by a RPL or CPL.
f.        Apply for RPL status within one year of qualifying for RPL status.

Why Certification Of Oil and Gas Landmen Is Important

Like many other industries the role guiding professionals in good practices and furthering education falls on voluntary organizations. Most oil and gas companies will only hire a landman that belongs to the AAPL and has passed either the Registered Landman test or Certified Landman exam. The reason for this is liability. Companies want to screen out non-professionals who may make the company a costly mistake. Voluntary organizations like the AAPL help the industry do this.

For those wishing to become a landman you should try to get a job working as an assistant to a RPL or CPL. In addition to the requirement of having a four year degree in business or a science field, additional classes in real estate and oil and gas law are helpful. There are landman programs at the following colleges and universities.

The University of Oklahoma
The University of Tulsa
Texas Tech University
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Western State College of Colorado
The University of Calgary, Alberta. Canada

Evolving Nature Of The Job Of A Landman

As time progresses there are more and more legal requirements for oil and gas landmen. It has been proposed in a number of states that landmen be licensed. Others have proposed requiring an oil and gas landman to be a practicing attorney. If you are considering becoming an landman you may want to do so now, and become grandfathered in to any strict changes in the status quo.

A degree from any accredited university counts toward the AAPL degree requirement. One from the above universities gives an additional year of credit toward the Certified Professional Landman requirements.   Becoming a professional landman can be a financially rewarding career path. For more information visit the AAPL website at




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