From Green Hat to Lead Hand and a Six-Figure Income

The companies powering America’s shale revolution truly “rock”

The male students of the CNX Foundation Mentorship Academy convened this past Friday at Deep Well Services’ training headquarters in beautiful Zelienople, Pa., to learn about a career in the oil and natural gas field services industry. Joining our host Deep Well was Evolution Well Services, the premier and most innovative completions company in the natural gas industry.

The leadership of both host companies invested their time throughout the day presenting and showing what a career in oil and natural gas field services looks like.

When I say the leadership, I mean the leadership. Deep Well CEO Mark Marmo, VP of Business Development John Sabo, and their wider leadership team participated through the day, continuously engaging the students. The Evolution team, led by Northeast Regional Manager Ryan McCann, exuded enthusiasm about their jobs and America’s energy industry that was impossible to miss. Spending the day with true leaders like these makes you extremely proud of our energy industry.

Students rotated across four hands-on modules, tours, and talks to get a better feel for the industry culture and the type of work encountered in these professions. What was special was having instructors covering topics and professions they know because they live it every day.

The compensation is, in a word, unrivaled.

An individual coming out of high school can start as a ‘green hat’ making $19/hour, enjoying a 401k savings plan, having health insurance, and receiving a $50 per diem to cover food expenses while working on the road.

Within 90 days, and with the focus to achieve proficiency with a checklist of on-the-job skills, the individual can progress from ‘green hat’ to ‘roughneck,’ where the pay increases substantially. With further skill progression, in a short period of time the ‘roughneck’ can achieve ‘lead hand’ status, where the all-in compensation levels are around the $100,000 level. None of it requiring a college degree; instead, what is required is a good work ethic, the ability to perform as part of a team, and the grit to keep at it and continually improve.

This was a full and busy day that offered three major takeaways:

First, the students are getting more engaged with hosts and topics as the Academy progresses. Lots of questions this week. I think we will see more than a few life careers determined over the course of this first Academy year. I sense a lot of the careers will be earning family-sustaining wages—providing financial independence and limitless opportunity.

Second, there are some stellar companies and leaders of those companies in western Pennsylvania that are too under-the-radar. Deep Well Services is a massive regional success story that should be trumpeted from the western Pennsylvania hilltops. Evolution Well Services is innovating completions and natural gas extraction to the point where no other energy source can compete with natural gas on an environmental basis (including much over-hyped wind and solar). Why don’t regional media, political leaders, and institutions make a bigger deal of these foundational pillars of our economy and quality of life?

Finally, American energy, its leading companies like Deep Well and Evolution, and its leaders rock. I was thoroughly convinced of that before this past week; but it’s always inspirational to see your convictions confirmed.

The Mentorship Academy is an initiative of CNX Foundation and part of CNX’s commitment to investing in its local community. Designed for high school students who do not plan to immediately attend a four-year college, the Academy is focused on providing urban and rural youth from economically disadvantaged regional Appalachian communities with greater opportunities—helping provide these young adults a bridge to family-sustaining careers. Following the mentorship program, students will have developed new relationships with peers and business leaders across western Pennsylvania, a new excitement for the region’s career opportunities and an understanding of how to pursue those careers.

From Green Hat to Lead Hand and a Six-Figure Income