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Oil and Gas Accounting Job Security: How to Survive and Thrive During Tough Times
Oil and Gas Accounting Job Security: How to Survive and Thrive During Tough Times

Accountants in the oil and gas industry can be fairly confident that their services will always be required and that there will be a steady demand for more professionals in the years ahead.

However, job security does not necessarily equate to prospering during whatever tough times may lie in the immediate future.

This country will probably have a very slow recovery from the depressed times of the pandemic era. 2020 was the first year since the 2008 depression that the economy actually shrank.

The recovery will take some time, and most businesses will suffer until that recovery hits a stride. So what can you do to survive and thrive during the dark days which are likely to prevail in the coming months?

Industry Challenges 

Before the pandemic even hit the United States, the oil and gas industry had been experiencing rough times. A glut of oil on the market had depressed the price of shale oil drastically, and that specific industry began slipping into debt.

It has been estimated that by the year 2026, the shale oil industry will pile up debts in excess of $100 billion. This staggering number could prove to be crippling to the industry. 

The excess supply has dictated that shale oil be stored awaiting sale, and storage has already reached 76% of max capacity.

As you might expect, massive cuts in production occurred all throughout 2020, beginning in March and continuing right through to December.

The number of oil and gas rigs in this country has dropped dramatically as a result, and this has impacted employees in a major way.

Layoffs have been common and even frequent in the industry, as companies struggle with excess supply and significantly decreased demand. Several companies have been forced to file for bankruptcy due to the state of the industry.

Recommended Read Current Economic Impact on Oil and Gas Industry Accounting and Financial Reporting

Supply and demand for shale oil may never reach the same levels as pre-COVID, and if they do, it won’t be anytime in the foreseeable future.

For other sectors, such as the natural gas industry, the outlook isn’t quite so bleak. However, there’s no question that the way oil and gas companies do business will have to change so as to acknowledge the new reality of the pandemic world.

Restrictions on trade, transport, and travel have seriously affected supply chains all over the country, and that impact will undoubtedly be slow in getting restored.

Surviving and Thriving 

Accountants in the oil and gas industry might be tempted to simply head for the hills and find suitable employment in another industry that has been impacted less severely.

Some have already done so because their companies simply could not survive the zero production situation and had no incoming revenue.

This is understandable, but for those companies that are trying to hang tough in anticipation of a recovery, there are some steps that can be taken by employees to keep their heads above the floodwaters and perhaps even prosper to some extent.

Recommended Read A Guide to Navigating Acquisitions and Divestitures for Oil and Gas Accountants

Become a CPA or APA-Certified

First of all, it will be worth your while to earn the designation of being a Certified Public Accountant. These professionals are highly regarded, and with good reason.

Anyone who earns their CPA will have gone through extra education, a thorough exam that tests their knowledge, and some solid work experience.

It’s a great move for job security, career advancement, job satisfaction, and also for the level of compensation that you’ll receive once you’ve earned your CPA.

Additionally, it would also be worth your while to participate in COPAS’s Accredited Petroleum Accountant (APA) program. This program was launched in 1996 with the goal of furthering the knowledge of accountants in the oil and gas industry.

Those who are APA-certified are guaranteed to have proficient knowledge of the intricacies that are unique to accounting in the oil and gas industry. Having an APA-certified accountant is an invaluable asset for oil and gas companies, especially considering the state of the industry.

Learn more about the Accredited Petroleum Accountant program!

Increase Your Networking with Other Industry Professionals


You should also be working on expanding your personal network of colleagues and professionals in the industry. You never know when one of these individuals might prove to be crucial to your career, perhaps by alerting you to a desirable opening somewhere.

At COPAS, we believe that networking is one of the most useful vehicles for individuals looking for a new job or an outright career change. Many of these jobs aren’t posted anywhere else and can only be discovered via referral from someone in your network.

Networking is a practice that you should be engaging in anyways, regardless of whether or not your job is at risk. Interacting with like-minded individuals is a great way to make connections, further your knowledge, and open up new opportunities for yourself.

Recommended Read The COPAS “Secret Sauce”: Knowledge Networking

Familiarize Yourself with Many Platforms 

Stay abreast of technological developments, even if they are slow to come to the accounting world. For instance, you should upgrade your skill level with Excel so that you’re practically an expert.

You should also become familiar with some of the most popular software systems on the market, so you can make yourself more marketable.

These software systems include Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, and SAP. If you can become proficient with these accounting systems, you’ll have some skills that a great many companies are looking for.

Take the Time to Learn Other Tools of the Trade


Broadening your area of expertise is a good idea as well. Your work has most likely been focused on a specific area of the business like auditing, preparation of financial statements, or internal auditing.

If you can gain experience in other areas of the business, that’s another way of increasing your skill set, as well as your understanding of other business areas.

Whenever possible, ask your manager to give you other assignments or to change your position entirely, so you can expand your knowledge of accounting practices and of your business in general.

Sharpen Your Soft Skills

One more thing you can do as an accountant to survive through tough times is to sharpen your soft skills. It’s great that you may be an expert in taxation, financial planning, or auditing, but those alone may not get you exactly where you want to go.

By perfecting your soft skills as well, you’ll become a well-rounded employee who could be very attractive to a slew of potential employers.

Work on your communication skills, conflict resolution, time management, and decision-making, so that you can possess skills in both areas: the technical and the personal.

This will make you a more complete employee and one who stands a better chance of surviving whatever pitfalls may be lurking ahead in your industry.

Increase Your Opportunities By Joining COPAS!

By joining COPAS, the Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies, you will gain the opportunity to network with other like-minded professionals in the oil and gas industry.

The knowledge that you can gain by joining COPAS will prove to be invaluable to advancing your career when tough times threaten to stop you in your tracks. Members of COPAS are at the forefront of driving change in the oil and gas industry. We want you to be a part of it!

Become a member of COPAS today!


Listen to our podcast episode about surviving mergers and acquisitions!

COPAS POLICIES: Complaints | Cancellation & Refund Policy


Networking is so important. It will help with your job and career, and you will gain knowledge you can’t get sitting at a desk. The people in COPAS have mentored me, answered questions for me, and genuinely cared about me and my family.

Melissa Gruenewald
Rating: 5

COPAS has great learning opportunities, leadership opportunities, and ways to develop relationships with other accountants and oil and gas professionals. You will work hard when you get involved, but the experiences, people and benefits will be worth it.

Melissa Gruenewald
Rating: 5

For anyone searching for energy knowledge, professional industry contacts, peers with whom to discuss similar dilemmas, and access to energy experts—COPAS is the place to be!

Carolyn Sczepanski
Rating: 5
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COPAS provides expertise for the oil and gas industry through the development of Model Form Accounting Procedures, publications, and education. We are a forum for the active exchange of ideas which result in innovative business and accounting solutions.


P.O. Box 21272
Wichita, KS 67208
Tel: 303-300-1131

Contact Us →



COPAS provides expertise for the oil and gas industry through the development of Model Form Accounting Procedures, publications, and education. We are a forum for the active exchange of ideas which result in innovative business and accounting solutions.


P.O. Box 21272
Wichita, KS 67208
Tel: 303-300-1131

Contact Us →


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