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Career as an Oil & Gas Landman

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson

An oil and gas landman is essential to helping companies find and purchase sites with the potential to produce significant quantities of oil and gas. The title "landman" is short for land management, which -- just as it sounds -- is not an easy job, as a landman may also be in charge of managing drilling projects and making sure they run smoothly and efficiently.

Education and Certification

Landmen do not need any specific degree. Many are hired with geology or engineering bachelor's degrees, even law degrees. Some students get a bachelor's degree that focuses on professional land management and is accredited by the American Association of Professional Landmen. As of February 2013, only seven programs in North America are accredited by AAPL and culminate in certification. Graduates with a different degree can also seek certification by AAPL to enhance their credibility and increase their salary potential. AAPL offers three certificates: Certified Professional Landman, Registered Professional Landman and Registered Landman.

Duties

A landman is in charge of negotiating leases with landowners so businesses can acquire the right to drill for oil and gas. A landman also coordinates efforts to explore fields and find land with oil and gas potential, and makes sure that all drilling and land contracts comply with legal regulations. In addition, a landman coordinates the efforts of a diverse group of people to complete his projects, including geologists, engineers, attorneys and accountants.

Qualifications

To be successful as a landman, you should have a thorough knowledge of a wide variety of fields as they relate to oil and gas. These include law, business, engineering, finance, economics, energy, geology and state and federal regulations. You should also be familiar with leasing contracts and understand oil and gas drilling requirements. A landman must also have good people skills and be a successful negotiator.

Work Environment

Working as a landman can be both fulfilling and stressful. You will need to find solutions among the competing needs of a diverse array of people. You may also be called upon to help find solutions to crisis situations involving drilling sites. But you will also be providing the foundation for new developments and will have a job that is never quite the same from day to day. A person with the right personality to fit a landman job will find the job fulfilling and exciting.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for landmen is very positive. The fields of energy exploration and oil production are escalating in the United States as of 2012, providing more job opportunities. According to the AAPL, in 2010 the average yearly compensation for landmen was $124,455. Landmen with a bachelor's degree and five years of experience or less made a mean yearly salary of $85,878 in 2010. Whether working for a company or as an independent contractor, landmen will have the best job opportunities if they combine education and certification with good work experience.

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