It would have seemed the stuff of science fiction if it hadn't appeared on newspapers across the world: According to new forecasts, the United States may soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the planet's largest oil producing country. Developments in technology and high oil prices have created stunning oil booms across the U.S., transforming sleepy towns into energy powerhouses, and making the longtime dream of American energy independence a possibility again.
There's just one problem: More oil requires more oil workers.
By 2020, one industry report claims that the oil industry will have created an additional 1.3 million positions. "Even if we are [energy independent], we can't hire enough people to keep it running," says Brian Aylor, who works in the oil fields in Midland, Texas, where the current oil boom plunged unemployment to 3.3 percent in September. "There's demand for everything."
Companies in boomtowns like Midland, Texas, pay workers handsomely; kids fresh out of high school can earn $80,000 a year if they're willing to get their hands dirty. And while oilfield experience is preferred (companies are desperately looking for experienced hands), anywhere with oil-soaked shale beneath the feet is probably hungry for workers with any kind of technical background, whether they're military veterans or car mechanics.
AOL Jobs spoke with a half dozen West Texas staffing firms and a number of industry people to find out the most in-demand jobs -- and what it takes to land one. Job seekers pondering a new career in the gas and oil sector can check out the list of positions below, and see if they have the skills and temperament to join America's 21st century energy revolution.