Topic ID #26389 - posted 1/19/2013 12:40 PM

This season's job outlook?


Any guesses on what the job outlook will be for the upcoming field season? I've seen a couple of companies already looking for resumes, but with the economy still spiraling down the tube I'm wondering whether there will be all that much to do this summer, and what the competition for the few jobs will be like.

Post ID#19932 - replied 1/20/2013 4:37 PM


2012 had pretty much the same number of job postings as 2011. I would be willing to bet 2013 will be about the same- with of course the normal regional and project lottery, for those lucky enough to be in the right area or get onto the right project.

Honestly- unless something horrific happens I would say that the next couple of years are probably going to be like 2011 and 2012, workwise.

Post ID#19934 - replied 1/21/2013 8:33 AM


I hate to be overly pessimistic but I think it's going to be more of the same, if not slightly worse.

We're seeing a drop in RFPs and a lot more competition for what's out there (firms 1,000 miles away bidding on tiny Ph I projects).  I also think all signs point towards fewer big DOT and USACE mitigations, as budgets get cut.  The regulatory environment around newer energy development (wind farms and natural gas) is still all over the place, and seems to be trending towards less involved CR compliance.

Post ID#19937 - replied 1/22/2013 2:10 AM

Jennifer Palmer

The growth of the economy by all standards of measure seems to be very slow. Unfortunately it will probably take some time for things to bounce back. Still hearing that folks are finding work on energy-related projects, at least in the short term.

Post ID#19940 - replied 1/22/2013 6:58 PM


I believe this year will be slightly better than the previous three or four years.I also believe that there are a few less of us in the field than four years ago so the spring may bring choices of projects. Infrastructure will have to be dealt with...they have been holding back for some time but they can't forever.

Post ID#19944 - replied 1/29/2013 1:02 PM

SHPO Grunt

I don't see too much growth in the near future.  Natural Gas prices remain low, and coal is on the way out.  Some of the Niobrara Oil play may start moving onto the National Grasslands areas of Colorado and Wyoming, and maybe onto some BLM minerals areas along the Rocky Mountain front.  But it doesn't appear to have the yield of the Bakken so it could stay small.  Right now a lot of renewable energy projects are on hold waiting for additional transmission capacity to be built.  Once the powerlines are in place, I see a rush to build renewables (particularly wind) as fast as possible, but that is a few years down the road.

However, there could be some opportunities related to uranium.  Also on removal of bug killed trees on USFS lands.  Tar sands could also pick up in Utah, but I think any large scale operations will run into environmental appeals for years to come.

At least that is what I'm seeing in my crystal ball for the Rocky Mountain Region.  YMMV.

Post ID#19947 - replied 1/29/2013 5:40 PM


I wouldn't look for to many DoD jobs either at the moment.  Installations are cutting funding to everything but what is bare-bones essential for them not to get sued.  Congress' inability to function and the impending doom of sequestration has pretty much postponed any projects (this includes contractors) for FY13-14 as well.

Post ID#19948 - replied 1/30/2013 5:39 AM


I think the industry, for the moment, is moving completely to the private sector. In the east, natural gas development is the major (and sometimes the sole) sector of development that triggers Section 106. In many cases Army Corp permitting only requires stream crossings, in other cases the entire project needs tested. Often there is a tight deadline associated with construction, so Phase IIs and Phase IIIs are out the window. What does this mean? It means that the industry has had to re-order itself, and with that the hiring process has changed. Gone are the days were you could send an e-mail with your CV attached and nothing in the body of the e-mail and no cover letter and expect to get a job. I'm sure we can all agree that competition for jobs has increased, so reliance on who you know and how you present yourself has become key to finding good work.

On the up side, I think the dark days are behind us. I think with natural gas we are looking at a large development in infrastructure. As SHPO Grunt commented above, yes natural gas prices are low, but not everywhere, (see what it costs to heat a home in NJ/DC/Baltimore versus the rest of the country). Major pipelines are going to be needed to hook up the Marcellus/Utica plays to these high population areas. I think we should also expect to see alot of growth with Liquid Natural Gas, wither that is in the form of exporting it out of the country or to coal power plants that have been retooled to burn natural gas. I see alot of work on the horizon, but I see a different industry then what everyone has gotten used. The individuals that learns to adapt to it, and learns how to successfully promote themselves will get the jobs.

Post ID#19949 - replied 1/30/2013 7:59 AM

SHPO Grunt

Good points redtech.  But an aside to keep in mind.  FERC is generally the lead federal agency for interstate gas pipelines.  However, they are not involved in liquids pipelines.  So, if the Natural Gas is converted to liquids prior to pumping it into the pipeline you may or may not have a Section 106 undertaking.  In that case, you would have to have Corps permits or some other federal agency involvement to kick in 106, which may or may not include the entire pipeline.

Post ID#19952 - replied 2/1/2013 6:52 PM


As an archaeology student from New York about to graduate in May I've been considering sending in resumes to the natural gas companies. Any suggestions on how to successfully promote myself? I've got a field school, plenty of lab work, and some geology under my belt, but I'm unsure how to land that first job. Suggestions?

Post ID#19958 - replied 2/6/2013 8:37 AM


Not to derail the thread, but since I couldn't find a better place to ask this: does anyone know the general time frame for USFS and BLM summer 1039 offers going out?

I know they're competitive (especially for those of us with no vet. pref., like myself), so I'm not holding back on applying for non-fed gigs. However, now that my applications are moving along at a slow crawl through the selection process, I realized I have no sense of when I should know that I'm not going to be hired, and move my eggs to a different basket. Mostly, I'm concerned about getting a non-fed offer, but holding off for a fed offer that won't happen, due to a lack of knowing what the usual timeline is.


Post ID#19959 - replied 2/6/2013 9:42 AM



I don’t think sending your resume directly to natural gas companies is a good idea. Unless you know someone, the natural gas company wouldn’t necessarily be doing the archaeology, they would hire a company to do the archaeology. On top of that, natural gas companies that drill and ‘produce’ natural gas don’t really need any archaeology done; it’s the pipeline companies who need to get the permits that require archaeology.


As far as promoting yourself, I’ve found that getting jobs depends on a lot of factors. I think it starts with networking. Talk to your professors at your school; see if they know anyone in the CRM business that could help you out. The job market right now is tough, a posting on this site or through shovel bums usually nets over a hundred resumes, so having a contact at company goes far. I would also talk to people who are teching right now. When a company needs to hire techs, they sometimes ask the field crew if they know anyone. Get your name out there. I would also recommend checking out the local conference scene, it’s a great chance to learn about cool research, and met people. I wouldn’t treat it as a job fair, but I would definitely have a few copies of your resume with you, and when you see someone from a company, start a conversation.


Spend some time on your resume and cover letter. It’s okay to have one general copy of both, but I would spend some time rewriting both of them for each job you apply to. If you know a company does only DOT work, or only Natural Gas work tailor your resume to this. Check out the company website and try to tailor your cover letter based on the way the company presents themselves. I have to admit this can be tough, but can definitely give you a leg up on the competition.


As far as applying for jobs, I would think about how far you are willing to travel for a project and then look for companies that do work in those areas. A good place to look for companies is on SHPO websites, often they have lists of comapnies qualified to do projects in their state. Sending an e-mail with your cover letter and resume attached could be a great way to make contact and get on a field crew. You don’t have to wait for a job posting to apply. This works very well with smaller ‘mom and pop’ firms.


To be perfectly honest, you should expect to apply to a lot of jobs, and never hear back. It is a hard field to break into, but if you put the time in promoting yourself and stay with it, you’ll get a job. I’m sure there is a lot to be added here, but I think networking, a good cover letter/resume, and being proactive goes along way.

Post ID#19962 - replied 2/11/2013 10:02 AM

JL Raab


My experience with this is that its widely variable, so there seems to be no specific timeframe.   Complicating this situation this year is the looming March 1st federal budget sequester, which at this point is likely to negatively impact the temporary/seasonal tech situation for this summer.   I've been told that a lot of federal employees who are in the position to screen and hire for these positions may be holding off on moving forward until its clear its going to happen and how badly funding is affected.


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