So you have taken an interest in becoming an oil and gas landman. The only problem is: where do you start? If you have done some research, you may have found that the internet contains very few clear landman resources. That is why we here at LandmanJobs.net have decided to outline a few avenues and tips on how to become an oil and gas landman. Keep in mind that there are not necessarily any concrete rules in becoming a landman. In fact, most landmen have very different stories on how they got their start. If you follow the tips we present though, while obtaining and applying the necessary skills, you will be well on your way to becoming a landman.
In order for a landman to do his or her job effectively, they must possess several important initial qualifications. Some of these qualifications can be obtained or taught, while others are simply personality traits. In the past, many landmen performed their jobs effectively without a bachelor’s degree or certification. Work ethic and relevant experience were the driving factors to success. These factors still play a large part in being a successful landman today, but things have become far more competitive. With competition for jobs reaching a new high, new minimum standards for landmen have risen.
To become a landman, candidates must now have:
- A bachelor’s degree from a four-year university (preferably in business or science)
- Some experience in the oil and gas industry or in real estate
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Great attention to detail and analytical skills
In rare instances companies may take a chance on an especially ambitious candidate without some of these qualifications, but do not count on it. If you think you are missing a few of these qualifications, then consider furthering your education and/or gaining some experience in an entry-level position.
Once you have checked off your initial qualifications list, we can start outlining how to become an oil and gas landman. You might have guessed that even if you have all the initial qualifications of a landman, actually becoming a landman is still very hard to do. It takes a considerable amount of relevant experience.
There are a few ways to get your foot in the door of the landman industry:
Work your way up – Spend some time working as a land tech, lease analyst, title analyst or leasing agent (See: The Different Type of Land Professionals). Most landmen have spent considerable time working in one or more of these positions before becoming a landman. Many companies also offer Associate Landman positions that require a minimal amount of experience. Being a landman often requires a great amount of experience, so you might consider applying to one of these positions before applying to be a full-fledged landman.
Take a landman course – Perhaps the quickest way to learn the landman trade is by taking a landman course. Landman courses can be taken in person or online. These courses do cost money but are usually offered at fairly reasonable prices. Before handing over your money, make sure the course you are taking is offered by a credible source. Ensure that the course is certified by the American Association of Petroleum Landmen (AAPL). The AAPL offers courses and is the best source for landman education.
Volunteer your services – If you really want to apply yourself, then volunteer for an existing Landman by helping them find documents in the courthouse. This will give you a feel for the large amount of behind the scenes work landmen do as well as the chance to make valuable connections. Not every landman wants volunteer assistance, but you would be surprised at the opportunities that arise from applying yourself in such a way.
Enroll in a petroleum land management program at an accredited university – It is never too late to go back to school, even if you already have a degree. In recent years, many universities have started to see the value in offering petroleum land management programs. Likewise, oil and gas companies place a lot of value on landman candidates with such degrees. While obtaining a petroleum land management degree may be a considerable investment, it is highly recommended if you really want to stand out from everyone else.
Below is a list of Universities that offer petroleum land management programs:
- The University of Calgary
- The University of Oklahoma
- Texas Tech University
- Western State College of Colorado
- The University of Louisiana at Lafayette
- The University of Tulsa
- The University of Houston Downtown*
- Oklahoma City University*
Gaining the Edge
Everyone knows that the oil and gas industry is boom and bust. The industry could be adding jobs one year, then after a few years those jobs disappear. In order to keep the competitive edge in the landman industry, it’s important to have as many skills as possible to set you apart from the crowd.
Network – Aside from gaining experience, networking will be your greatest ally in getting started as a landman. Making contacts can be difficult, especially if you don’t know anyone in the industry. It is important that you use everyone you can as a resource. Often times using the “friend of a friend” strategy is very effective in making contacts. Landmen themselves are excellent networkers, so it is no surprise that to become one you need to start networking even before you get the job. Keep in mind that companies would much rather hire someone they are familiar with as opposed to a stranger.
Join industry organizations – Joining industry organizations like the AAPL are a great way to stay connected in the landman industry. In addition to the AAPL, regional and local organizations exist. These organizations are a great way to start networking, and can often be joined by all types of land professional.
Get AAPL certified – In addition to being a great, all-around landman resource, the AAPL is the official certifying entity for the landman industry. Some states are now requiring landmen to become certified in order practice. In any case, becoming certified is a must in furthering your career as an oil and gas landman. There are several levels of certification, and if you are serious about your career as a landman, you should strive to receive the highest level of certification possible.
* UHD and OCU offer a Professional Land Management Certificate, not a full petroleum land management degree.