For anyone hit by our ailing economy, the prospect of earning a six-figure salary in a North Dakota boomtown might seem irresistible. However, jobs in oil and gas often come at a price, and though one’s first inclination is to follow the money, there are other factors to take into account, especially for those with a family. Here are eight questions you’ll want to consider before you start searching for jobs in oil and gas:
1. How will my spouse react to the idea of moving?
If your honey will have to give up a nice job or leave family or friends, special consideration must be given. Discussing your goals and dreams about seeking jobs in oil and gas may help to bring the two of you closer. Try to get your partner’s support. Allow your spouse the opportunity to become your cheerleader. When you share your thoughts and ask for your mate’s input it will communicate his or her importance to you and your desire to include your spouse in your job search.
2. What about my children?
When small children learn their family is moving they can often feel frightened or uncertain. For them, home is their entire world and the idea of it no longer existing can be quite scary. For older kids, leaving friends and familiar routines can be just as upsetting. Try helping them come up with a clear plan on how they can “keep in touch” and when they might be able to go back and visit should you accept one of North Dakota’s jobs in oil and gas.
3. Will my family like where we’re headed?
Parts of North Dakota are absolutely beautiful and for some folks, its spring and summer are amazing. But while experiencing all four seasons is something many people enjoy, others characterize the winters as simply brutal—long, cold, snowy and windy—something to take into account as you search for jobs in the oil and gas industry.
If your family can tolerate frigid temperatures, going to the Dakotas might be fine, especially if they enjoy activities associated with the winter season, like snowmobiling, ice skating, skiing and sledding. During more temperate weather, they might also enjoy jet skiing on the rivers and lakes, and of course, people come from all around for the hunting and fishing.
4. Are my loved ones prepared to make the most of it?
There are some people who can enjoy themselves practically anywhere. If that's your family, consider yourself blessed. Otherwise, plan to have several conversations about your moving to pursue jobs in oil and gas. Things will not necessarily resolve themselves after one or two discussions. Be patient and don't play down the importance of coming changes. Encourage your spouse and children to express their concerns. Do your utmost to be a good listener and try to give everyone the time needed to adjust to the situation.
5. What are the people like?
North Dakota generally consists of hardworking, honest folks who genuinely care about each other. The problem is there just aren’t a lot of them. Even with all the people coming to find jobs in oil and gas, the state does not have a large population. If your family likes to be where the action is, that may prove to be somewhat of a challenge, making it all the more important to help your children find social outlets in the community. Get them plugged into a youth group, sports league or other organization as soon as possible.
6. How about the standard of living?
Historically, living in North Dakota has been relatively inexpensive, though that’s changing around towns where people are coming for jobs in oil and gas. Homes are generally affordable and the schools have an excellent reputation.
7. What is available in the way of entertainment?
In addition to the seasonal outdoor activities already mentioned, North Dakota’s diversions include biking, hiking, camping, parks, fitness centers and shopping malls.
8. Will I be able to balance work and income demands with the well being of my family?
This is an excellent question. There are jobs in oil and gas that might require you to work long hours and on weekends, to commute long distances, or be away for extended periods of time. All of these are issues that need to be considered carefully before you accept any job offer.
A career change can be stressful even under the best circumstances. Add relocating your family to the mix and you’ve complicated the situation. That makes ongoing family dialogue about possible jobs in oil and gas, where all members are brought into the decision making process, absolutely vital for you and your family’s long-term happiness.