17 Career Advancement Tips for Maritime Workers in the Oil and Gas Industry

Careers for maritime workers within the oil and gas industry can be incredibly rewarding, both professionally, and lucratively. Grit, tenacity and a desire for advancement are keys to earning a promotion. With the right prep work, your odds of success can increase greatly. In this guide, we’ll share some tips, tricks, and considerations towards career advancement working a maritime job.

Be a Top Performer

Of all the advice that could be given on getting a promotion in the oil and gas industry, this one is the most important. To advance in your career, you need to perform at an elite level. When the opportunity arises, it’s vital that you have a track record of doing great work. This goes beyond being an outstanding oil and gas worker among your peers. If you’re after a promotion, you need to exemplify that you understand the value of teamwork and possess leadership ability.

Lead Through Example

Leadership is not just the ability to met out orders to your subordinates. Often, it’s having the guts to take personal responsibility when things go wrong. Throughout your career there are sure to be speed bumps, and “passing the buck” when things go wrong under your watch can’t happen. As a maritime worker in the oil and gas industry, you’ll earn the respect of your peers by not complaining, and acknowledging it if you’ve fallen short. Of course, you’ll keep those occurrences to a minimum if you’re after a promotion.

Show Special Care and Attention to Safety

Positions in the oil and gas industry have been increasingly safety conscious as the years have gone on. With that in mind, there are still significant risks and dangers to be cautious of. Prioritize doing things safely, and the right way. Liabilities are rampant, and all the way up the chain of command safety is a constant concern. It’ll be hard for your superiors not to notice your focus on the welfare of rig personnel. As a bonus, they’ll likely feel more secure about promoting you knowing your commitment to a safe working environment.

Be Mindful of the Culture

Though many things are similar across rigs, each one is sure to have its own culture. While you don’t necessarily have to “fit in” it’s a good idea to get along. Avoiding hot button topics like religion, politics, and more can be a good way to keep things on level ground. As you get accustomed to the regular topics of conversation, you’ll also learn which ones are good to avoid. It can be a losing proposition to voice your beliefs when you see a minister’s son and a same-sex marriage activist yelling at each other. The long-term fallout just isn’t worth it, as well as the tensions it can create depending on which side you take. Either keep the peace or don’t get involved.

Build Relationships and Your Network

As nice as it would be to get promoted simply by the merits of your work, it rarely happens that way. Building relationships and getting on the good side of others is vital for your future advancement. Qualifications will only carry you as far as your personality takes you. If you burn the wrong bridges or offend the wrong people, you might find yourself getting passed over for someone else. Identify those who have influence and power and do all you can to make their lives easier. This doesn’t mean to be a brown noser, but rather a top performer. Be professional in your demeanor and how you carry yourself. Show you value your relationships.

Don’t Just Outshine Your Peers

When you’re getting after it, working quickly, hard, smart, and safe, you might find yourself the object of ridicule. Some may ask why you’re working so hard, or who you’re trying to impress. Ignore these comments, but realize that peers can cause quite a bit of undue stress if you are starting to make them look bad. When given the opportunity, always highlight the achievements of your co-workers. If you see an employee get reprimanded and you had a part in the outcome, step up and take some responsibility. The goal isn’t to make yourself look good at the expense of your peers. The goal is to show you’re a top performer that inspires your peers to work harder, safer, and smarter.

Don’t Let Yourself Be Walked On

Maritime workers and those in any industry for that matter, are going to deal with this problem. As you get a reputation for doing more, some of your peerage or even your superiors will start to ask more of you. While it’s necessary to be proactive, take steps so that you’re not taken advantage of. Define clear boundaries between doing your work well, and doing someone else’s work. Of course, you have to answer to your superiors and their demands, but don’t let your peers get into the habit of pushing their work onto you. If you want to be up for a promotion in the oil and gas industry, it’s important to be looked upon as a respected member of the team versus a “yes man.”

Find a Mentor With the Maritime Job You Want

Receiving guidance from someone who is exactly where you want to be is a great method of getting exactly where you want to go. Everyone’s path differs, but it’s like having a guide to lead you up Mount Everest. You can learn what pitfalls to avoid, where you should focus, and even who you should impress. It’s not a one-way street. That said, you need to give back as much as you take if not more. It’ll be difficult to locate one at first, but following all of the tips mentioned thus far help to that end. Be someone worth mentoring.

If you want to advance your career in the oil and gas industry, take the time to identify potential mentors. Once you get an idea of who you’d like to emulate, get personally invested in their success. Become a friend, learn about their family and how you can help them with their personal goals. Mentors are people too. By treating them well, and with an authentic interest they’ll naturally want to help you out as well.

Realize That It Will Take Time

Even when you’re a top performer, advancement in the oil and gas industry doesn’t happen overnight. Depending on where you are on the ladder, a promotion could take six months, five years, or even ten years. That said, for the patient and hardworking, many maritime workers find working on offshore oil rigs intensely rewarding. Maritime jobs aren’t for everyone, but many develop a passion for the work after years in the field. It will take a good amount of time to get to where you want to go, but with steadfast commitment, and a clear vision of where you’re going, you can get there.

Accept the Decisions Good or Bad

If you play your cards right, positions appropriate for you will start to open up and be available. That said, at times you will be passed over for a position you’re much more qualified to be in. Like many areas of life, fairness rarely dictates policy or decisions. It’s your job to accept it and get back to work. Even if that derrickhand who makes your blood boil gets chosen over you; you have to grin and bear it. Use any disappointment as fuel to just work harder and get after it. Be so good they can’t ignore you. And eventually, they won’t be able to.

Luck Is Preparedness Meeting Opportunity

Your job is to be ready, and to show a track record of consistency. If you save your extreme work ethic just for times when a promotion is possible, it won’t look good. People buy track records, and if your track record is lousy with only a recent commitment to working harder, you’ll be passed over. Work hard from day one. Commit to “embracing the suck” as Marines put it. The work is laborious. It will tax you physically and mentally. Save your energy for working, instead of wishing things were easier. It will get easier once you’ve put in the time and dedication. Be prepared, and you’ll find “luck” in your career opportunities with regularity.

Manage Perceptions

How you are seen is just as important as the work you do. You could be an incredibly hard worker, but if no one notices, or if someone else takes credit, you’ll be left with the short end of the stick. This affects all industries just as much as it does maritime workers. It’s not only necessary to do good work; it’s necessary to be noticed for it. Sometimes this means helping your supervisors look good, as they may “talk you up” to higher ups. Other times it might mean volunteering for tiresome tasks when no one else wants to take the challenge on.

Nail Your Performance Evaluations

You are going to be judged. When you’re after a promotion, find out from peers you trust which parameters you’re going to be measured against. Maritime workers in the oil and gas industry have intensive workloads requiring a special type of grit. You need to be on the top of your game whether you’re on day one of a 14-day stretch, or day 13. This relentless work ethic has to continue for the duration of your career if your goal is to advance quickly.

Make Great Use of Your Time Off

Two weeks on, two weeks off is a typical split for maritime workers on offshore oil rigs. Make sure you make the most of your time off to recharge so that you’re ready to get after it when you return. Some may have a hard time unwinding after grinding away, but it’s an absolute necessity that you recharge on your time off. If you don’t, your performance will suffer on your return. And if your performance suffers, your path to advancement is weakened.

Realize That Even Good People Get Disciplined

No matter how hard you work, or how committed you are to doing a great job; something bad will happen. It’s naive to think otherwise, especially with the unpredictable nature of working in the oil and gas industry. Should you find yourself being reprimanded, or punished for something that went wrong, take responsibility, but don’t take it personally. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of how hard you’re working for someone. You may even feel like throwing it all away after getting disciplined. As a top performer, the fall hurts even worse than someone who’s just mulling along. Use it as energy towards your goals. Refocus, and keep your eye on the outcome you want.

Be Prepared for Hard Times

If you’re determined to be in this industry for a long period of time, realize that you’re going to see both good times and bad. Hiring in the oil and gas industry fluctuates with the price of crude. When things get especially tough, cutbacks on staff are common. You can never guarantee you won’t be one of the maritime workers laid off. But you can work as hard as you can to make it a painful option for your employer. You want to make yourself so indispensable to the operation that letting you go is akin to firing five others. The more critical you are to the operation of your rig, the safer your maritime job is.

Remind Yourself of Why You’re Working So Hard

As the hours, days, months, and years start to wear at you, it’s important to keep in mind why you’re working so hard. Yes, compensation for those who rise up the ladder can reach as much as a quarter of a million per year, but there’s more to it. The money will motivate, but it won’t carry you through like remembering why you’re working so hard. Keep at the top of your mind the family you’re trying to support, or the future you’re trying to build, or even the team you don’t want to let down. If it’s bigger than yourself, it will be easier to motivate yourself into action. There will be tough days. So long as you keep in mind everything we’ve listed in this guide, you’re well on your way to advancing your career in the oil and gas industry.