STEUBENVILLE - If you want to work for the companies drilling and servicing oil and gas wells in the Marcellus and Utica shale, Mike McGlumphy said there's a thing or two you need to know.
McGlumphy, director of the Jefferson County Workforce Investment Act One-Stop Center, said if you can't pass a drug test and a background investigation or handle being cloistered on a drilling site away from family and friends for two weeks at a time - working 12 hours on and 12 hours off the entire time - and lift heavy loads, repeatedly, then don't even bother applying.
McGlumphy said the nature of the work is such that the shale companies want people willing to deal with the rigors of working extended shifts and weekends and holidays, being on 24-hour on call and coping with the vagaries of Mother Nature.
Toronto resident Rick Sparks, left, discussed shale oil and gas job opportunities with Mike McGlumphy, director of the Jefferson County WIA One-Stop Center. - Linda Harris
"A lot people don't realize the jobs are two weeks on, two weeks off and that you live on site," McGlumphy said. "You don't get to go home at night. So there's the hours, that they're working (out in the elements) and the separation from their families we want people who are going into it to know all that, and that these companies have a zero tolerance for drugs and a zero tolerance for a criminal record. If you have a felony, they won't look at you. There's no point in applying for a job because they won't hire you."
That's the bad news.
The good news is that, provided you meet the industry's employment requirements, you can expect to be well paid for your trouble.
"There's a definite upswing in job presence, but individuals don't know what they're looking for. To me, it's no different than applying for a job at TIMET - you need to know what you're looking for and what you're applying for. You need to do your homework in order to get an interview and get past the interview."
McGlumphy said Jefferson County has been working with other counties in its service district - which includes Harrison, Carroll and Belmont counties - to gather information and resources. Jefferson County's website, jeffersoncountyconnections.com, has a link for "oil and gas jobs." Click it and it will take you to a short questionnaire aimed at getting you to think about what's involved in a job in the shale industry. If you're still interested after you answer the questions, you'll be prompted to sign up for an oil and gas jobs workshop.
McGlumphy said they also hold period resume workshops designed to get you in the interview door.
"We're approaching it logically," he said. "Yes, we're extremely busy. Yes, we've added workshops. At the same time, we're just starting. We know we're going to get a lot busier."
McGlumphy said 34 people have already completed the jobs workshop.
Meanwhile, in West Virginia, Christine Smith, administrative coordinator for the Northern Panhandle Workforce Investment Board, said some 2,000 would-be workers showed up at a recent job fair in Marshall County.
"Every company that was there was hiring," she said. "They're telling us this is not just going to be for a few years, it's going to be for generations. There's a lot more to it."
Smith said the drilling of a single well requires 400 people working in nearly 150 occupations, "but 47 percent of a well work force is made up of general labor (20 percent), heavy equipment operations (17 percent) and commercial driver license/on- and off-road truckers (10 percent). Wages for all positions are above-average, she said.
"They're comparing it to a gold rush," she said.