February 4, 2020 0 Comments Experience Working in Alberta's Oilfield

Changing Careers – Oilfield, Financial Reporting & Consulting

I had someone introduce the topic of changing careers out of accounting and financial reporting.

I found this interesting as it contrasts my experience. I’m completing my degree in accounting (did 3 years of a math, economics, and computer science degree 7-10 years ago). I used to work as a financial reporter and consultant for a little while. I’d like to go into law or accounting; the latter if the former don’t work out.

Getting Out of the Oilfield

My motive was that I was tired of the oilfield, construction, and trades; these days, people are happy to make $100K, let alone be working. Terrible environment, long hours (60-105+/week), cyclical, extensive time away, etc.

Accounting & Finance: Low Salaries, Demanding Employers

Looking at most accounting-like roles, the norm seems to be $50-80K/year. On the higher end, they want CPAs with a wealth of experience, and those around $100K or higher are generally in senior management or other senior roles who have put their many years of time in. Not very encouraging.

Public Scrutiny and the Economics of Employment

In most fields however you’ll run into this hurdle. Unless you’re a risk taker, know the right people, and are aggressive – you likely will be “pigeon-holed” we call it. Basically you’re seen as an item on a balance sheet generating $X profit for the employer (either directly or indirectly). If you cost $70K, and you indirectly generate $100K, they sure hope you produce more and more while your cost remains the same, or lower. You also are subject to public scrutiny and the market.

Working as a Financial Consultant and Reporter in Oil and Gas

I worked as a financial consultant and reporter for an oilfield service company for a while. My pay was $91,200/year plus commission (approximately 1% of Revenue I brought them). I didn’t have a CPA or Accounting degree.

I was recruited from LinkedIn connections. I had been in the oilfield since I was 19 years old; my connections were very extensive. I started my way up from being a roughneck on the oil rigs, to doing odd bs jobs like others’ taxes, road construction, and then oilfield and construction trucking for 6 years.

Then I just happened to be given the responsibility of helping a company grow from $700K yearly revenue to $3M, which then was on the verge of going out of business. Then just shy of $5M revenue the next year. I didn’t have the most education, but I had a lengthy spread of experience and connections, and the aggression to grow them.

Philosophy of the “Office Job” Market Worth

Unfortunately, they got greedy once the family were brought into the business. One area of conflict commonly was my compensation. A typical “office job” was not worth more than $50-70K/year to most people. However, in O&G, $100K/year was a relatively low yearly income. There were constantly other employees complaining about my compensation and assets.

This “office job” philosophy was more of market emotion and social stigma. But it was a telltale sign that these days, no matter how much result you produce, or how qualified you are, you’re still victim to public scrutiny, the market, and investor psychology. Even if you produced $150K for costing $100K, if someone is willing to (attempt) to do your work for $60K (to claim to) be sunshine and rainbows, the employer would take the risk and bite. You’re also more of a risk and liability, and socially undesirable in some circles. I didn’t care what people thought of me, but it affected job stability.

Would someone being paid $60K produce the same as someone who was paid $100K? Even if he/she could do it, he/she isn’t going to put in the same effort.

Losing my Financial Reporting and Consulting Job, and Having to Sue

I was no longer being paid and was attacked with lawyers and merciless court actions for months after I stopped working for them. I had to sue them twice in response and accept I may not find a job like that again. Positions like my former typically required a CPA and an extensive list of experiences and other very particular qualifications – and to pay less. I was fortunate in the past that I was valued for producing results, and having actual field experience in the business I helped run.

Age 26: Going Back to School

Had I finished my school earlier and followed a traditional progression route into a pillar of finance/accounting? The result may had been very different. Now even if I ever became a CPA or some financial role, chances of finding my former income are next to none for the next several years, unless I brought the business money, had my own practice, etc.

I am 27 years old now and am still going to school (albeit part time; I can’t afford full-time). I’ve went to some labs where people were well into their 30-40s, as they wanted to get out and into something else. It happens.