Drilling, like all professions, has pros and cons.

You may get satisfaction out of solving problems deep underground and the immediate feedback you get in the form of water, minerals or answers from far below the surface. It takes training, ingenuity and intuition to puzzle out what happens at the end of a tool string hundreds of feet down. I find that aspect of drilling fascinating.

Maybe the travel keeps you interested. Many drillers I speak with have worked in a dozen or more countries. Specialized skills stay in demand and good drillers can go anywhere the work will take them.

For many drillers, family is the big pro. Dad or uncle founded the business and you couldn’t imagine not working with family. Some families pass drilling down for three or four generations and it grows into a sense of pride.

Not All Roses

Of course, as night follows day, cons follow pros. I bet you started thinking about the cons three paragraphs ago. By a show of hands, what aspects of drilling fall into the “con” category?

Its difficulty? Lot of hands go up for that one. No doubt about it: Drilling is tough, dangerous work. I’ve shaken hands with several drillers missing digits. The industry has evolved on safety over the years, reducing overall incidents. But the demanding and physical parts of the job challenge people, for sure.

Many hands go up for weather. Anyone who works outside at least part time knows how finicky Mother Nature is. I’m not made of the stuff that can work a muddy jobsite for 10 hours in 25-degree weather (and then come back and do it again the next day). Drillers are. The work gets done or it doesn’t, and drillers get it done regardless of temperature or precipitation.

Travel, while a pro, can also serve as a con, depending on your situation. Folks with families have to settle for calls and video chats, which pale next to seeing your spouse and kids at the end of a hard day.

A few hands will go up for regulations. Plenty of professions — particularly construction related — involve red tape: absurdly detailed bid requirements, unexpected state or local regulations, whatever.

Put It All on the Scale

Now, why would I bring this all up? Knowing your pros helps paint a picture of the “why” for prospective hires. I often hear people talking about the lack of young blood pumping into the drilling industry’s veins. Where is the next generation? Those pros answer a 20-year-old’s questions about why to go into drilling. Think about the cons. Ready yourself to defend against those cons when a young person gives them as reasons for not wanting the job.

I remember someone I interviewed years ago saying something to the effect of, “I never thought I’d grow up to be a ditch digger, but here I am. And I love it.” He probably followed the same path many drillers do, thinking there’s no way in hell he’d return home to work in the family drilling business. But he worked through the mud and backbreaking labor, and found his pros. As an industry, we need to help make that argument, help prospective talent see what we see. That begins with an assessment of the pros and cons.

What do you think? What pros get you into the work truck at dawn? Do you have clever ways of dealing with the cons I mentioned (or any of a list of others)? Let me know. Send an email to verduscoj@bnpmedia.com.

Stay safe out there, drillers.