A recent forum about careers in shale gas, held at A.W. Beattie Career Center in McCandless, addressed the demand for individuals with computer skills and experience in engineering and surveying, water transportation, wastewater management, construction, truck driving, accounting and welding.
It also noted more women are needed in the industry, which was of particular interest to Mary Veltman, 16, a junior at Deer Lakes High School. She attended the Oct. 18 forum with her father, Mark, and left with a feeling of excitement and confidence.
"I didn't know much about the shale gas industry, but now I'm very interested," she said. "When I get out of school, I know I'll find a job."
The Shale Gas Professions and Career Paths Forum was sponsored by Beattie, Junior Achievement and Penn College as an informational program to help students and parents understand what local opportunities await them in the energy industry.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, who was featured in a video, said energy sector jobs in the state total 90,000 and an impact study projects more than 200,000 such jobs created locally over 10 years.
Joy Ruff, community outreach manager for the Canonsburg-based Marcellus Shale Coalition, said the average annual wage in the energy industry is $76,036 -- $30,000 higher than the average Pennsylvania wage.
Drilling engineer Jeramie Morschauser of CNX Gas, a subsidiary of Consol Energy, held up a $10,000 drill bit and explained that everything in the drilling industry is specialized.
"You don't have to have an engineering degree," he said, adding that a big push is being made to get more women involved in the industry. "Many companies have their own training programs, so it's not difficult to get on-the-job training."
Jason Fincke, executive director of the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania Inc., said that construction-related jobs can be learned through joint apprenticeship schools, which offer three- to five-year tuition-free training programs.
He said individuals get paid as they go through the programs. On average, students are in school for four weeks a year and on the job the rest of the time, he said.
Cement masons, brick layers and iron workers all are needed, and Mr. Fincke said the pay is $10 to $25 an hour, including health care, pension and annuity programs.
Chris Scheve, regional vice president at Valerus for the Northeast, talked about careers in the health, safety and environmental fields, which he said will become abundant.
He said the shale gas movement will be larger than both the coal and steel industries and the jobs are there for the taking.
Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer: