When I worked in Oil and Gas, I saw guys in their early-60s forced to retire after getting laid off due to downturns.
They were too expensive to hire or keep on as they had years of experience behind them. One guy had a few years left before full retirement age. He was laid off and drove a bus until retirement.
Today it’s him — tomorrow it’s me. I had to get out. Specialization is good when the specialty has market demand.
I have a relative who specialized in HVAC. I don’t hear him complain about economic downturns with his business. HVAC isn’t going anywhere.
I got a petroleum engineering degree. It’s a niche industry-specific degree. When the industry hits a downturn because of politics — which tends to happen every 5 years or so — every Oil and Gas worker is stressed out because they’re hoping to avoid the next round of layoffs.
Repeat that every 5 years.
The degree is too specialized to jump into another professional industry. Outside of Oil and Gas — it doesn’t mean much.
You start to live on hope. Hope that energy markets do well. Hope that someone doesn’t start a war. Hope that the financial markets don’t crash.
Software is industry agnostic
I got out of the Oil and Gas industry by switching careers to become a software developer.
Software development is not without problems but it is mostly industry-agnostic.
When I worked as a product manager at a software company — I worked closely with a skilled software developer. When he was fed up with the instability of the energy markets — he jumped into another industry with ease.
If you’re a software developer working in Oil and Gas and the industry goes downhill — you’re not begging for scraps.
You can take your problem solving software skills and go work in the financial, aerospace, marketing, agriculture, education, insurance, electronics, and other industries.
Becoming a software developer allowed me to pivot from Oil and Gas to working in the Graphic Design industry. It won’t be the last industry I’ll work in. Pivoting in and out of industries is an advantage most career paths won’t have. Take that into account when choosing your career.