Facts About Oil Field Driver Jobs
Everything you Need to Know About Oil Field Driver Jobs
Job opportunities for CDL drivers in oil fields are increasing due to the boost in fracking across the country, especially where oil and gas company initiatives are concentrated. If you live in an area where oil field driver jobs are available, you might want to consider this career for several reasons.
The following information is meant to help you develop an understanding of what an oilfield driver does, how much they can earn, and other relevant information prospective job applicants should know before pursuing this area of trucking. Oil field driving differs greatly from OTR, regional and local positions you may be more familiar with.
Before we get into the specifics of the job itself, let’s cover the income aspect.
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How much does an oil field driver make?
For oil field truck driving jobs, salary is a key consideration. If you work in this sector of trucking, the pay will depend on a few things, including location, the company you contract with, your driving experience, and the type of position you take.
While we typically only cite salary statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in this instance, you may find it helpful to look around, especially at real local listings to get a snapshot of the current climate.
Fuel truck drivers in 2016 were reported to earn anywhere from $30,000 - $60,000, according to PayScale.com. Glassdoor.com listed the average salary for crude oil drivers at $74,000 per year as of October 2016. Indeed.com also lists salaries of different types of oil field drivers that you can use to look for your opportunities. For instance, this search for “oil truck drivers” in Houston, TX, revealed salaries for frac sand haulers that were over $100,000 per year.
As you can see, there is a pretty wide earnings range for the different oil field trucking jobs, which is why it’s clutch to look deeper into the different trucking jobs that exist in the industry.
What does an oil field driver do?
The work of oil field drivers can involve many different types of tasks, trucks and working conditions. Having a good idea of the different aspects of the industry is essential to your success and satisfaction as a truck driver.
What types of oil field trucks are there?
When you search for oilfield trucking jobs, you may find opportunities driving flatbeds, tankers, and many other types of trucks that are specific to the industry. Vacuum trucks and swab rigs are also good examples of the specific types of trucks used. These trucks are made by companies, such as Tiger General, which specialize in helping oil companies find transportation and job solutions with their vehicles.
Vacuum trucks basically work like the name implies. They suck all types of liquid, sludge and other materials into a large tank. These trucks are very common, especially in the petroleum industry. Of course, if you have experience driving one of these trucks, you could also end up driving for sewage companies and some government agencies that use these vehicles as well.
Swab rigs, another specialty oil industry truck, perform a necessary function that allows oil workers to access our natural resources. The process of swabbing involves lowering a cable and winch down into a well in a way that releases pressure in the hole – which will kick the well off. In other words, this important function is what really gets the well going.
Many oil field jobs also want drivers who have experience driving water trucks, frac water heater trucks, or hot oil trucks, which are commonly used in the fields as well. The process of drilling and fracking creates a lot of waste that includes salt and water that needs to be hauled away and disposed of properly. These “water haulers” as they are called, will drive tanker trucks from oil fields to places where they can dispose of these contaminated materials.
Hot oil trucks help with the unavoidable blockages in equipment that are common in crude oil production. These trucks also help with hot oil treatments to heat up fluids that are used for fracking. Hot oil is also commonly used to clean equipment that helps process oil and gas.
What additional skills are required for oil field driver jobs?
To prepare for a job driving in the oil fields, you should expect to earn your CDL A or B to qualify for most positions. The following endorsements and skills can be helpful, or in some cases, necessary, for these jobs.
• HAZMAT Endorsement
While you’re earning your CDL, you should go ahead and earn your HAZMAT endorsement if you want to work in the oil fields. It’s no secret that oil and gas can be extremely dangerous to work with. This endorsement will help you understand how to inspect your vehicle, transport dangerous cargo, and go through the loading/unloading, coupling/uncoupling process. You will also learn about the 9 classifications of dangerous materials and how to follow the appropriate safety standards set forth by federal guidelines.
• Mechanical Skills
Oilfield trucking jobs may require more experience in areas that extend beyond your CDL trucking skills, endorsements and other driving-related qualifications. There are many jobs in oil fields that require drivers to have the mechanical skills to fix their own rig in some cases – or at least be quick to change a tire or perform basic mechanics if help can’t arrive to an isolated.
• Leadership Skills
Many people think that trucking is just a job that requires driving skills, and don’t consider how your personality or leadership skills might come into play. Oil companies look for leadership in their drivers due to the sometimes harsh conditions and dangerous tasks these jobs require. If you are a passive person, or dream of gazing out at the landscape and sunset as you cruise down the highway – this probably isn’t the type of trucking work for you.
• Healthy, Fit and Ready for Anything
This is certainly not a requirement for every oilfield trucking job, but it can help. Many of the tasks involved when you are working in the oil fields require a certain level of strength and stamina. Shifts can be unpredictable and sometimes grueling. Trucking companies across the industry are incentivizing health and fitness for their drivers. Oil and gas companies are no exception to this. However, since oil trucking jobs generally require more physical activity, they can be a way to keep in better shape than sitting in a cab for hours at a time, like OTR drivers.
Can you get oil field driving jobs with no experience?
There seem to be trucking companies in every area of the industry that take chances on drivers fresh out of trucking school. Same thing with drivers who have less-than-stellar driving records; it’s not impossible to find work. However, you might find that employers in your area prefer 1-2 years of tanker experience, for example. Don’t let this discourage you. Many drivers gain a few years of OTR experience before making the transition to the oil and gas industry. With a HAZMAT requirement for most positions as well, it can be understandable why companies want drivers with a little bit of experience.
What are the best places for oil field driver Jobs?
In 2014, Oil + Gas Monitor rated the Five Best Places to Live if You Work in Oil and Gas. Not surprisingly, two cities in Texas top the list. Texas, famous for its oil and gas business, lists Beaumont-Port Arthur and Houston as the top two cities for this field. Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA/NJ com in at number three. With Anchorage, Alaska and Denver-Aurora, Colorado finishing the list.
USA Today ranked the 10 most oil rich states in 2013, which were:
4.) North Dakota
6.) New Mexico
What is the lifestyle required for oilfield trucking jobs?
It’s no secret that oil field driving can be grueling on your body and mind. All you have to do is visit some trucking forums on the subject and you’ll hear first-hand just how tough it is compared to typical OTR work. Shifts can be long and depend on what pops up that day, and what kind of job you’re on. It also goes without saying that you should be ready to get dirty when you’re working in oil and gas.
Some of these jobs require that you live on site in a camp-like setting with other oil and gas workers. This is part of the trade-off for the higher pay that oil truckers can receive compared to OTR jobs. Higher pay isn’t guaranteed. You’ll have to talk with schools and companies in your area to find out the job picture is in your state.
Do you live in an area with oilfield trucking jobs – or want to know the types of trucking jobs available near you?
We want to help you learn as much as you can about truck driving jobs, whether you want to work in the oilfields, OTR or local routes. You can use our directory of jobs and schools near you to learn more about the path that’s right for you. With a nationwide driver shortage with no end in sight, what are you waiting for?
Do you want to talk with trucking employers or CDL schools about specific opportunities near you?
Our first priority is helping people enter the trucking industry as smoothly as possible. If you’re ready to take the next step, just use our listings to get started.