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How To Find Oilfield Jobs In North Dakota


(Update: This article was written a few years ago, as North Dakota's shale boom was just taking off. Recently low oil prices have reduced the number of available jobs in the Bakken Shale oilfield. The current low oil price environment is considered by most energy industry experts to be temporary. An old saying in the oil business is "The cure for low oil prices is low oil prices." Eventually the laws of supply and demand will force oil prices higher and more workers will be needed in the Bakken Shale and elsewhere. There are still jobs to be found in the Bakken Shale, just not as many as there were a few years ago.)

One of the bright spots in the nation's dismal economy is the state of North Dakota where oilfield jobs in the Williston basin are leading the way. A major discovery of oil, called the Bakken shale, is largely responsible for creating employment opportunities. How do you get a job working on an oil rig in North Dakota or in an oilfield related job? Here are some tips.

First off, let's take a look at what the Bakken shale is. Below is a map of the Bakken shale in North Dakota.

Bakken shale map.

Most of the oilfield jobs in North Dakota are located in the Williston basin. This large geological formation covers much of the state as well as Montana and part of Canada. The towns located in the Williston basin are home to many oilfield service companies and drilling companies such as Baker oil tools which has offices in Williston and Dickenson North Dakota. Other oilfield service companies in North Dakota include Schlumberger, Dicor Well Service, Frontier Hot Oil, Pool Well Service, Key Energy and many more. You can do a web search of "North Dakota Oilfield Service Companies" or "Williston Basin Energy Service Companies" and get an idea of who the major employers are.

What Kind Of Experience Do You Need For Oil Rig Jobs In North Dakota?

Oilfield jobs in the Bakken shale are not just about working as a roughneck on a rig. It is the service companies which provide everything from wireline services to drilling mud that make drilling a well possible. For those with any kind of mechanical background, including an engineering degree, technical school degree, industrial or military experience, mechanical experience, etc., there is often some kind of Bakken shale job in North Dakota that will fit. Your first step will be to write a good resume that reflects all of your mechanically related skills and begin sending it out to oilfield service companies in North Dakota and Montana. Cold calling, or simply calling the listed phone number and asking to speak to someone about available jobs, may also be successful. Check out the state job bank, at JobsND, as well as newspapers and their web classifieds.

What's It Like Living In North Dakota?

For those who have to work outside in winter in oilfield jobs in North Dakota the weather can be quite harsh. Just as they do in Alaska, Canada and every other oil producing area, companies have figured out how to best deal with the elements by preparation. Trucks and drilling rigs are winterized and employees wear insulated coveralls, boots, gloves, hats, etc, when working out in the weather. You shouldn't think of North Dakota as a frozen wasteland. Spring, summer and fall can be glorious times and living in N.D. can offer you many opportunities for outdoor recreation such as fishing, hunting, hiking and much more. In fact, due to the booming economy, North Dakota is now considered one of the states with the highest standard of living, including recreation, education and jobs.

You can find contact information for some of the companies providing oilfield services in the Bakken shale at sites such as and,

Keep in mind that as an industry, oil and gas drilling is cyclical. When times are good, as they are now, there are many jobs available in places such as the Bakken shale. Yet when oil prices fall, as they have done in the past, companies may lay off many workers. As someone who has worked in the industry for many years I have learned to "make hay while the sun shines" and not be lulled into a false sense of job security.

The author has worked in the oil and gas drilling industry for over 20 years.






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