A Path to Getting Started as an Oil & Gas Lease Analyst: Microsoft Office Suite
So, you know someone who works as an oil and gas lease analyst, have learned how challenging and rewarding the work is, and was told the salaries are high, so you want in. It might even be how you learned about this blog. You know you are detail-oriented, you like working with numbers (as long as it doesn’t get too complicated), and you have what you think are good reading comprehension skills. You believe you’re a good candidate for this new career. So where do you start, to get your first break?
Getting that first job in oil and gas land administration as a lease analyst isn’t as easy as it was 30 or 40 years ago. Knowing someone with inside connections isn’t enough anymore. New computer technology, vending machine college degrees, and social media have all changed the landscape unrecognizably. But one thing remains the same. Private ownership of oil and gas rights, called mineral rights, is protected here in America. No other nation on earth, with the exception of Canada, in parts of Quebec with stringent restrictions, allows private citizens to own any mineral rights.
As long as the United States protects private ownership of natural resources, private citizens will be negotiating and signing leases for the exploration and production of oil and gas from their property. And that means someone will always have to maintain the ownership of the oil and gas leases by the energy companies, as assets. That’s why energy companies need lease analysts, and for as long as private ownership of mineral rights is allowed, will always need them. For decades, lease analysts have earned salaries above the national median income, once they have “paid their dues” and gained at least a couple years of experience. But even as a trainee, a lease analyst trainee can expect at least $20 per hour—and in some places, such as Houston, more than that. Without ever having worked in oil and gas before.
Do you need a college degree to get that first job, though? No. Still, even today, many companies do not require a college degree. Some do, of course, such as the majors, but that’s a company policy thing, not an automatic qualification for starting a career as a lease analyst. Among the major oil companies, even a bachelor’s in basket weaving (offered by University of Houston, by the way) will qualify you for employment with some of them for a professional position such as lease analyst.
So, if a college degree isn’t required, how does the person doing the hiring decide that someone is the right fit for their trainee position? The decision is based on other factors, several other factors, all of which can be learned in order to get hired for that first job as a lease analyst trainee. If you take a look at job listings for a lease analyst on www.indeed.com, for instance, the skills and knowledge listed as qualifications usually are presented in descending order, the most important listed first. You’ll also find many items that are listed in pretty much every job listing.
Take, for instance, the Lease Analyst position listed on indeed.com as of today. Associated Resources is looking for a lease analyst, and it lists the categories of qualifications, essential functions, experience, and education needed to get hired.
Qualifications are listed first. Number one in that category is “experience with Microsoft Office software”. Does that mean experience on the job, in another industry? No, not necessarily. It means a high level of skill and knowledge using Microsoft Office software that can be used beginning on Day 1 of the new job. So what is Microsoft Office, and how is it used in energy companies?
Microsoft Office Suite basic software apps most commonly used in energy companies are the Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint apps in the Suite. Many companies, but not all, also use the OneNote and Sharepoint apps. There are some companies, extremely small companies, that might still be using Microsoft Access for lease records management, but they’re hard to find today.
Microsoft Office advanced skills in Word, Excel, and Outlook will place any candidate in the running without any previous experience. There are a number of online courses available that will teach beginner, intermediate, and advanced Word, Excel, and Outlook, but you want to be careful to choose one that will teach either the 2013 or 2016 versions of the software. While Microsoft Office 2019 is available, energy companies tend to lag behind current versions by several years. For instance, it has been only in the last six months that my office computer was upgraded from 2013 to 2016. The 2018 and 2019 versions were already available when my employer upgraded everyone to 2016. Many, if not most of the small- to midsize independents are still using 2013. The thing to know is that a new version only changes the look of the screens, and where to find them in the task ribbon. Usually, there are only a few new, or enhanced, features available in the new version that wasn’t available in the last one. It usually takes me less than two weeks to get accustomed to a new version, and learn the few upgrades now available in it.
Don’t let cost alone drive your decision to take an online course to learn Word, Excel, or Outlook, or to advance your current knowledge from beginner to intermediate or to advanced. A certificate of completion from an accredited college or university will be worth more than a college degree to some energy independents, because it means you’ve received quality training.
A good, and very affordable, source for top-quality training in Word, Excel, and Outlook is www.ed2go.com. Colleges all across the country use it as a source of Continuing Education courses for career training. The courses don’t earn college hours, but they are excellent for giving anyone the level of proficiency needed to use these applications in any energy company office.
Once the course is completed successfully, the accredited college you choose will issue a certificate of completion. To find which colleges sponsor ed2go.com in or near your zip code, go into www.ed2go.com, hover over the down arrow for Resources at the top of the screen, and select “Find a School”. In the greater Houston area, for instance, there are 10 colleges and universities that sponsor ed2go.com courses. Traditional enrollment is not required. These are considered continuing education or job training courses that do not earn college credit hours, so normally only a simple application is required and payment by credit or debit card.
Proficiency in Word, Excel and Outlook is the most important qualification for a lease analyst with Associated Resources. A look at the qualification section of other lease analyst jobs posted will have this same qualification requirement somewhere near the top of their lists.
The next most-important qualification is “Experience handling and organizing computer files (copying, moving, organizing in folders)” which the next blog post in the Professionals category will discuss. That, too, can be learned before getting that first interview.