How to Get a Pipeline Job Without Experience Observe the available pipeline jobs Where to look for pipeline jobs? Tips for successful employment Takeaways
How to Get a Pipeline Job Without Experience Observe the available pipeline jobs Where to look for pipeline jobs? Tips for successful employment Takeaways
Updated 17/12/2020

How to Get a Pipeline Job Without Experience

Discover the available career opportunities in the pipeline industry, and find out how to get a pipeline job, no matter what experience level you possess. There are simple yet effective steps for successful employment. Check this guide to uncover valuable insights.

Discover the available career opportunities in the pipeline industry, and find out how to get a pipeline job, no matter what experience level you possess. There are simple yet effective steps for successful employment. Check this guide to uncover valuable insights.

Traditionally pipeline jobs are associated with the oil and gas industry, as this is the leading demand source for pipeliners. Nevertheless, pipeline specialists are also busy with municipal infrastructure projects, utility systems maintenance, and construction. There are plenty of opportunities for employment in pipelining. If you are considering moving into this career path, here is a comprehensive guide on how to get a pipeline job with no experience and how to get ready for the hiring process.


Observe the available pipeline jobs

Let's focus on the oil and gas pipeline transportation industry. The US pipeline network is over 200,000 miles, which is more than 4 times longer than the US Interstate Highway System. Pipelines lie on the surface, deep under the ground, under the sea, and in both remote wild areas and inside big cities. Diversity is in everything, from working conditions to professions on-demand in pipelining. Here are the main positions you can apply for.

1 Pipeliner

Pipeliners perform mostly maintenance of existing pipeline systems and repair various breakages. Pipeliners also can be involved in the maintenance of pipeline supporting infrastructure like pumping stations, storage tanks, etc. Usually, a high school diploma or a GED is enough to qualify for a pipeliner job. Employers mostly offer trainee positions or on-the-job training for employees with no experience. Another way of getting a pipeline job without prior experience is by pursuing a vocational training course. There you will get basic knowledge and practical skills to perform pipeline laborer duties.

2 Pipeline walker

Pipeline walkers patrol the pipeline systems to detect any defects like leakage, washouts, joint breaks, and communication infrastructure (broken wires). Depending on the object size and location, walkers inspect pipelines by foot or using vehicles. Sometimes walkers work on horseback if the area is not suitable for cars. While there are no strict education requirements (high school diploma or GED), pipeline walkers need to be highly attentive to details and sharp-nosed. Often only a gas smell points to potential breakage, and it’s essential to notice the slightest changes in the air.

3 Pipeline Welder

The primary approach to joining pipes in gas mains and petrol pipelines is welding. So specialists in both gas and electric welding are highly welcomed in this industry. There are specific welding standards, and to become a pipeline welder, you should obtain a proper certificate. Usually, it is given after passing pipe welding courses. Only certified welders can get employment.

4 Pipeline Construction Diver

As lots of pipelines lie underwater, divers are required to inspect the ocean shelf and maintain the construction process. Depending on the conditions (the location depth, climate, etc.), a worker should have an appropriate diving certificate and medical clearance certificate.

5 Pipe inspector

While walkers perform visual checks, pipe inspectors use magnetic and optical scanners to detect leakages and breakages in the pipeline system. This position requires a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in engineering, construction inspection, or architecture.

If you only plan to start working on a pipeline, consider these options as entry points to the industry. There are other positions available, like pipeline supervisor, design engineer, SCADA engineer (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition). However, they are available only for candidates who previously worked in entry- and mid-level related jobs.

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Where to look for pipeline jobs?

As of 2019, the TOP 5 oil-producing states in the USA are:

  • Texas
  • North Dakota
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Colorado

Since the industry is concentrated in these states, the chances of landing a pipeline job there are higher than in other regions.

What areas hire for pipeline jobs?

Gas and oil producers are not the only employers for pipeliners. There are lots of accompanying contractors who hire people for pipeline laying and maintenance. You can extend your job search for the following areas:

  • Pipeline Surveying
  • Pipeline Construction
  • Non Destructive Testing
  • Pipeline Inspection
  • Delivery and Transportation
  • Rigging and Drilling
  • Oil Field Services

Pipeliners Labor Union

Most pipeline specialists across the USA join Pipeliners Local Chapter 798, a labor union that helps pipeliners train all required skills, build their careers, protect their rights and use available benefits guaranteed by the labor law. It is the safest way of getting on the pipeline job and being stably busy. There are Pro-Union and Non-Union jobs you can consider:

  1. Pro-Union

    The pros are obvious: you will have health care insurance, pension, stable employment at a predefined rate. You will be able to build your financial plans, as know beforehand, how much you will get. Nevertheless, working in the local 798 Union, you cannot discuss your wage, as every worker's compensation in every location is defined beforehand. Another problem is after you’ve been laid off, you go to the end of the waiting list for new employment. The Union gives jobs first to those who laid off earliest and have been waiting for the longest.

  2. Non-Union

    You can apply for non-union pipeline jobs, which are riskier yet often more lucrative. You take care of your employment, salary negotiations, and selecting the location and company where you want to work. Non-Union jobs usually imply higher skill standards. To be a successful candidate, you may have to obtain some professional certificates to prove your qualifications and be eligible for employment.

    When looking for jobs online, you will see the openings marked as “Union” and “Non-Union.” This way, you can understand if the vacancy requires you to be a Labor Union member.

    If you prefer to stay a passive job seeker, ready to sacrifice some part of the potential salary for stability and some benefits, rely on Pipeline Local Chapter 798 membership. If you prefer a more active attitude to build a career, then obviously consider Non-Union jobs too.


Tips for successful employment

If you want your job search to be maximally quick and effective, it requires preparation. Find out how to get into the pipeline industry with no experience and boost your chances for successful employment. Besides your skills and professional education, there are simple, practical steps to increase job search exposure and optimize your job applications to meet employers’ expectations.

1. Define your specialization

As the pipeline industry involves various professions, first decide what role you’d like to take. Learn the requirements of the chosen job type, compare them with your existing skillset. If needed, you can always get a proper training course and certification to become a suitable candidate.

2. Widen your search

After you have decided which way to go in your career, it’s time to search for available job openings. Do not limit your searches to online job boards. Many companies in the oil and gas industry and other related niches never post their openings in such places. That is why you need to take into account numerous sources for your search, including:

  • State portals and resources
  • Companies websites
  • Professional communities and social networks
  • Offline networking
  • Labor Union (Local 798)

Review news portal in Alaskan, North Dakota, and other industry-heavy regions to track the upcoming projects and new oil extraction plans. Often the news posts contain names and contacts of the companies. Use them to inquire about forthcoming vacancies.

Let your social circle know about your plans to start a career as a pipeliner and develop contacts in the professional sphere through social networks and online communities. Networking helps to get exciting offers before they get public. It is the most potent source of new jobs.

3. Consider cold calls

Collect the contact information of the companies you’d like to become your employer. It would be highly useful to contact them directly to inquire about open positions. Even if there are no openings posted publicly, you may be able to get one in a personal talk. If they are currently not looking for new employees, they may keep in touch for future offers.

4. Optimize your resume

A resume needs to be geared to your desired role. While you can have versatile skills, degrees, and experiences, your future employer is interested to see only information relevant to their requirements. As a candidate, you should provide quick proof that you are a perfect fit for the open position.

Revise your existing resume and make sure it is what pipeline employers are looking for:

  1. Don’t describe your past job experiences in detail if they have nothing in common with your future pipeline job. A standard resume size is one page. Do not fill this valuable space with irrelevant information.
  2. Mention certifications that are on-demand in the chosen field, as well as information about vocational training you’ve passed.
  3. List your hard and soft skills that are on-demand in pipelining.
  4. Include the industry-specific keywords into your resume. It helps automatic applicant tracking systems to qualify you as a suitable candidate. For pipeline jobs, such words include ‘pipeline’, ‘welding’, ‘pipeline system’, ‘pipe-line’, ‘oil line’, etc.

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5. A cover letter is your ticket to an interview

Any job application becomes more powerful with a cover letter. It is a sort of pitch that shows your candidacy from the personal side and convinces a hiring person that having you on board is a smart move.

It can be hard and time-consuming to write a decent cover letter. Often candidates skip this step and wonder why having a brilliant resume and applying for tens of openings doesn’t achieve the desired result. If silence is not what you expect after applying for jobs, take care to create a personalized cover letter for each application, and increase your chances.

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After all documents and a list of exciting openings are ready, send your applications to all desired positions. Sometimes you will get a response right away. Other times it may take over a month. This is normal, as many companies need time to collect all job applications and select the most attractive candidates. Nevertheless, keep in touch with your employers by sending a follow-up if there is no response for a long time.



The keystone of a successful job search in the pipeline sector is narrowing your search query and extending the search area maximally, using all available sources. The next component of this winning combination is the thoughtful preparation of all supporting documents, personalized for each employer. If all is done right, you will become the most wanted candidate in pipelining. Start moving to your career goals right now!

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