ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Jobs paying starting salaries as high as $42,000 per year - such as a mud logger - are available for those with nothing more than a high school diploma, providing career seekers are willing to travel with gas drilling rigs for Empirica.
"We like geologists, but you do not need to be a geologist," said Carla Goldsmith, recruiter for Houston, Texas-based Empirica, while speaking at the Wednesday Ohio Valley Regional Oil & Gas Career Expo in St. Clairsville. "You have to be willing to travel out into rural America to stay with the rigs. You cannot leave them until the work is done."
Several hundred job seekers traveled to the James E. Carnes Center searching for careers in the Ohio Valley's burgeoning oil and gas drilling industry. Nearly 20 companies looked to hire employees to fill openings for everything from administrative and clerical positions to truck drivers and rig workers.
Dwayne Pielech, director of Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services, said he believes the oil and gas business soon will have a large impact on employment levels throughout Eastern Ohio.
"This is the first time we tried to have a career fair specific to the oil and gas industry," he said. "We thank the companies who participated here today. Once this industry really takes off, we hope to have more fairs like this."
Goldsmith said Empirica employs "mud loggers," who track the data in the mud as the drill bit drives down through the earth. This allows the drillers to track the chemical makeup of the ground as they dig through it. She noted this particular job could pay between $32,000 and $42,000 a year. Goldsmith spoke with Wheeling resident Barbara Porter at the Empirica station. Porter is now a kitchen designer, but said she believes the prospects for working in oil and gas are quite good.
"I am very excited to get into this industry. If you are willing to do the work, the work is out there," Porter said.
Also exploring opportunities were Dana and Courtney Sempierek of Dillonvale. The mother and daughter said they see a lot of potential in the oil and gas drilling business.
"I am looking for an environmental health and safety position," said Dana Sempierek. "My last job wanted me to move to Chicago. I hope to get something in the local area."
Dana Sempierek said her daughter recently graduated from high school and hopes to attain employment before eventually attending college.
Oilfield services company Force Inc., slated to soon open its Barnesville location, has immediate openings for truck drivers, laborers, an office manager and other positions.
"We are really excited to be in the area," said Marketing Director Cheryl Sorice. "We hope to hire as many of our employees locally as we can."
U.S. Well Services, with offices in Texas and in Jane Lew, W.Va., also had a booth at the expo. District Administrator Cindy Hamner said the company is looking to open an Ohio Valley facility.
"We are looking for mechanics, welders and truck drivers," she said.
Cathy Roman, human resources manager for Zelienople, Pa.-based Highway Equipment Co., also said her employers are looking to expand into the Eastern Ohio area.
"We are looking for diesel mechanics," she said. "We can hire people right out of a technical school and give them additional training to go to work for us."
Also Wednesday, Belmont College in St. Clairsville announced its new Energy Institute, which officials said will provide education, training, and preparation for employment in current and future sources of energy.