The U.S. is slated to be the top oil-producing nation in the world this year, thanks largely to the brave souls drilling throughout the Great Plains states.
On Friday, one of those souls (under the username Wyojones) took to Reddit for an "Ask Me Anything," sharing details of his life working as a flowback supervisor in Wyoming and Colorado — and how he earned six figures the year he turned 20.
1. You can make money right away — if you're willing to work.
"Average is a 12 hour shift with 2-3 hours paid drive time to get from the hotel to job site and back," Wyojones said of jobs in the oil fields. "Overtime after 40."
He said it doesn't take specialized skills to get an entry-level job.
"It's s labor job, and at the lower levels labor is what gets you in," Wyojones wrote. "And the lower levels still pay a couple grand a week."
Asked for some more specifics on starting pay levels, he wrote, "$1,500 a week is pretty decent."
2. Most new guys don't make it one year in the oil fields.
"It's hard work but the opportunity it can give you is fantastic," Wyojones wrote. "If you don't want a career from it save for a couple years then pay your way through school with no debt. It can be easy to get in, but I see probably 80% of new guys not make it a year."
Other Reddit users chimed in, saying that many new hires aren't used to working 80-hour weeks or the "brutal" Great Plains winters.
3. The work is dangerous...
"Big explosion hazards, environmental spills, toxic gasses and materials, heavy equipment, and driving while tired" are just some of the dangers he faces at work, Wyojones wrote. "There are very strict safety standards in place and I'm responsible to make sure my crew abides by ask the rules. Oh and H2S. S**t's nasty."
H2S, or hydrogen sulfide, is corrosive, flammable, explosive and poisonous.
4. ...and the money's dangerous too, in the wrong hands.
Wyojones and other users shared stories of guys who earned tons of money working in the oil fields, only to blow it on new houses, cars and parties in Las Vegas.
Wyojones admitted that he hadn't saved as much money as he should have, and shared some of his biggest regrettable purchases.
"I dropped 8k on guns one day," he wrote. "I've spen[t] 5k for a single nights party."
5. North Dakota's not all it's cracked up to be.
Wyojones, who alternates between work in Colorado and Wyoming, had a few choice words about North Dakota, the center of the Bakken Shale boom.
"F**k North Dakota," he wrote.
He admitted that, "It's more money and easier to get started up there," but he said, "I'll take 20k less a year to stay out of that state."
6. The oil fields are "the last true meritocracy."
Out in the fields, there's little room for politics, nepotism, favoritism or the other games that can characterize office work.
"I think the oilfield is one of the last true meritocrac[ies]," Wyojones wrote. "You can't sweet talk your way out of burning down millions in equipment or spilling hundreds of gallons of oil on the ground."
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter