When the Boom Goes Bust
When the oil industry boom goes bust, what happens to the workers? What happens to the communities we live in and raise our families in? What happens to you?
The residents of West Texas have been on a rollercoaster ride due to the oil industry’s constantly changing demand. When oil prices are high, the need for workers is so great that oil and fracking companies will pay very high salaries to attract workers. The work these companies offer is often dangerous, dirty and back-breaking. But, as history has shown over the past 100 years, what comes up must go down. When the price of oil drops, so will the need for oil field workers.
Many people in West Texas will fight to find new jobs at the same time as their family, friends, and neighbors. Some people may even find themselves unexpectedly out of work and unable to find a new job that pays a fair salary. Long days, exhaustion and heavy machinery often combine to create accidents that injure or kill oil field workers every day.
There is no denying that the money is attractive, but new Class A CDL licensed truck drivers to have so many available options in today’s economy that you should at least ask yourself some questions before finalizing your career path.
A Day in the Life of an Oil Field Driver
You will typically wake up around 5 a.m. to begin a 14 to 16-hour shift. You will drive to a pumping site and connect your truck to the pumps that fill the tanker with water from fracking and drilling. You’ll then spend the next few hours in harsh, oily conditions working on the water pumps to fill your truck. After the truck is full, you will transport the water away from the drilling site, repeating this cycle until the end of your shift around 8 to 10 p.m., when you will return home or to a work camp for a few hours of rest.
Oil fields are very dirty and filled with petroleum and many other toxic chemicals. Many drivers are required to wear exposure detectors in case of chemical leaks so that you know when to evacuate the area. At the end of your shift, you’ll have just enough time for a quick dinner before going to sleep so that you can wake up at 5 a.m. the next day and repeat your next 16-hour shift. You also should be aware that oil field drivers are typically on call 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and are often asked to work overnight graveyard shifts. The typical oil field worker spends only 20 percent of the time driving a truck and 80 percent of the time working on pumps and doing hard, dangerous manual labor.
Many of the jobs in the oil field are in remote areas with no houses, schools or supermarkets. Most of these workers have to leave their families at home and end up living in mass housing complexes called “man camps.” You will share a bathroom, kitchen and shower facilities in these dormitory-like units. Many are an hour or more away from the nearest supermarket, restaurant or pub. Temperatures can linger above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for days, and the absence of trees means no natural shade for workers pulling 14-hour shifts. Most rooms aren’t bigger than a standard walk-in closet, and workers often bunk with someone they’ve never met.
There is Another Way
Your Class A CDL doesn’t mean you have to go break your back or worse in the oil fields. In today’s economy, a Class A CDL is like a golden ticket to qualify for thousands of high paying jobs as a professional driver. The trucking industry is facing a massive driver shortage and has been increasing pay, benefits and home time in an effort to attract more people to the career.
Many carriers, such as Werner Enterprises, treat their professional drivers with the respect and gratitude that these hard-working men and women deserve. A career as a professional driver typically includes the following benefits:
- High starting wages
- Sign-on bonus
- Up to 100 percent tuition reimbursement
- Mileage bonus, pay bonuses
- Flexible home time schedule
- Life insurance
- Health, vision and dental insurance for you and your family
- 401(k) Retirement Plan with company match
- Employee Stock Purchase Plan
- Career growth opportunities
- Safe, clean working environment
- Respect from their associates
While the high pay of the oil fields is tempting, you should consider all of your options before choosing your career path. The truck driver training and Class A CDL you will receive at Roadmaster qualifies you for jobs that don’t require the hard labor and brutality of working in the unstable oil field industry while still offering generous wages. These careers will provide you with the stability to care for your family, save for retirement and stay safe and healthy, while making great money for many years to come.
For opportunities to drive for major trucking carriers such as Werner Enterprises, speak to a representative in your Placement Department about the options available to you.