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Jobs

Field Engineer

Field Engineer

(OP)
I have a job offer from a large oil field service company (Halliburton, schlumberger, weatherford, etc) and I'm trying to decide if I want to take it or not. I'm graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering and the job offer is in cased hole wireline. I know the lifestyle can be rough but I also know there is the opportunity to make tons of cash. Anyone here work as a field engineer that can give me a first hand account? One of my main concerns is pigeonholing myself into this type of field technician work and not really utilizing my engineering skills. For those who have worked in the field and are now out what do you do? Are you still in the oil and gas industry or did you move to something different? Ideally my plan would be to work in the field for a couple of years, pay off my student loans, then move to a more stable engineering job that's more pertinate to my degree.

RE: Field Engineer

You said repeatedly that you only want responses from people who have worked as Field Service Engineers. I've only worked around a few hundred of them so I guess I don't count.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

RE: Field Engineer

(OP)
I'm open to any and all applicable advice I can get! First hand accounts are always great though

RE: Field Engineer

I got close to an offer from one of these companies in my youth after taking a mech Eng degree and was always a bit Will I Won't I and suspect you're the same given your question.

From what I know now, some 30 years down the line, is that you very quickly become what you've done, not what you trained for or what you really want to do so my normal advice is, where possible, choose your initial work with care as it is not so easy to change after even 2 or 3 years. You get used to the lifestyle, the MONEY, the immeadiacy of field work, which can make design work not so exciting after the high presusre, high intensity, high immeadiate reward life of a service engineer.

GO in with your eyes wide open and if you have a life plan and can stick to it (pay off your debts and then get out), you could emerge after 4- 5 years or so with your debts paid off and an ability to initally take a lower paid / lower posiiton job whilst you learn the ropes in another industry such as pipelines, piping, pumps or some such alternative.

Difficult to give any stranger advise like this as we have no idea about your character, backgorund, family situation etc and different people in the same situation can turn out very differently.

If I had my time again would I do it - No, but maybe you can give it a go and see it from the inside. These companies have a history of a terrible attrition rate so will test you early on to see if you're going to make the grade. Try picking up a few books some of the old timers have written and see if you like what they did.

Good luck

My motto: Learn something new every day

Also: There's usually a good reason why everyone does it that way

RE: Field Engineer

OK. The industry has evolved. 30 years ago, if you went to one of the big 3 service companies, that was your career and there was no good way out of it without leaving the industry. Events of 1986 and the nearly 20 year depression that followed forever changed that. In the old days, the career path in this industry was graduate -> go to work for a Major -> get 2-3 years of training/experience -> jump to an independent at a bunch more money. There were 106 Engineers that started with Amoco the day I did and 15 years later 2 of us were still with Amoco. Today even the majors are reluctant to roll the dice with new graduates. I taught a class to a group of 20 new hires recently and 4 of them were new grads. Ten were from service companies with 2-5 years experience. The other 6 were hired away from smaller producers. What I'm trying to say is that the path you are contemplating has become the most common path into a Production Engineer job in this industry.

Life as a Field Service Engineer on a wireline truck SUCKS. Ten or twelve hours before they're ready for you they call and you drop everything and head to the site. Sit around for 6-8 hours (or 24-48 hours if they ran into a problem) and then run the logs. The company man will not tolerate the rig sitting idle for a minute waiting on logging to start. Long days. Crappy food. Rotten living conditions. Horrible locations. Good pay. Great experience. If you can tolerate the negatives, the positives are worth a lot. There are legions of people who couldn't/wouldn't tolerate it and left the industry. I can't think of a single person I've known who was successful in that career path that was married at the end of 3 years. It is a life for an uncommitted single guy.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

RE: Field Engineer

Cant see Field Engineer position anywhere within the oil patch being any tougher than equivalent positions in the mining industry,.... in the middle of nowhere, camp life, dirty, cold weather work, good prospects etc. Personally I thrived on it, regretted very little. But the cliche "If was easy, everyone would be doing it" was never so true. If you've got the slightest doubts before you start , you're probably not a suitable candidate.

RE: Field Engineer

miningman,
The biggest difference I see is that a mine is often a longer-term thing. You log a well for a day or so and then go on to the next horrible location for a few days. The company you work for has zero concern for your comfort or wishes in either case.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

RE: Field Engineer

From all the comments I read above, I see that such work will put a damper on one's social life.

RE: Field Engineer

No "put a damper on" means to "slow down", a field engineer job is more like "shut down" your social life.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

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