There are a number of different jobs in the petroleum industry.
The petroleum industry is vast, encompassing the exploration, extraction, distribution, refinement and sale of oil, gas and related products. Millions of people are employed by the industry in a wide range of careers, both white and blue collar, from the roughnecks who work on oil drilling rigs to the marketing executives who design advertisements for a brand of gasoline.
Petroleum geologists, working with a company’s director of exploration, will attempt to identify areas most likely to contain deposits of crude oil and natural gas. Once identified, they will work with engineers to identify the best locations in which to drill wells.
Petroleum engineers are responsible for designing and supervising the construction of the materials, such as drilling rigs, wells and pipelines, used to extract and transport crude oil deposited underground.
Drillers are blue collar workers who specialize in the operation of large drills used to penetrate the Earth’s surface and bore into petroleum deposits. Drillers are a skilled form of “roughneck,” a term referring to a worker on an oil rig.
Roustabouts are another form of oil rig workers. Unlike roughnecks, who perform duties requiring skill and experience, roustabouts perform mostly general labor such as cleaning, and loading and unloading cargo.
Pipefitters are blue collar workers responsible for laying and connecting pipes used to transport crude oil, gas and, occasionally, refined products long distances. Pipefitters will often work under the supervision of an engineer and geologist, who will design the pipe and pick out its route.
Crude oil and its derivatives are often bought and sold on the open market. When these products are traded on an exchange, the sale will be handled by a commodities broker, who will connect a buyer to a seller and facilitate the contract.
Crude oil has few uses in its natural form. The vast majority of extracted crude is refined in a boiler into more usable fuels such as gasoline, kerosene and diesel. A refiner, usually a person with a background in chemistry, operates refineries devoted to this purpose.
As the offshore oil rig explosion of April 2010 demonstrated, the extraction of petroleum carries with it a number of risks. Many companies employ a safety coordinator responsible for developing safety procedures and making sure that they are adhered to.
When crude oil has been refined into usable products, it must be distributed to a number of different outlets, such as gas stations and retail stores, where it can be sold. Distributors are often placed in charge of a particular geographic territory, where they supervise the distribution of products to different clients.
All petroleum companies have executives who make decisions about the company’s direction and operations. Most petroleum companies have executive positions devoted to exploration, business development, planning, marketing and sales.