Workers Train for Natural Gas Careers at Penn State DuBois

Course instructor Robert Watkins (left) leads students in a teamwork training exercise where they must collectively lower objects to the floor without dropping them, and without talking. (Provided photo)

DuBOIS – Penn State DuBois has partnered with several organizations connected to the Natural Gas Industry to offer training that will prepare individuals for careers in the Marcellus Shale boom, at very little cost. The Floor Hand Training Program currently running at the campus will provide all of the training and certifications the students in the program need to enter the workforce on a gas well drilling site as a floor hand.  Tuition for the program is covered by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Floor hands operate and maintain drilling systems and pumps by connecting and disconnecting pipes, inspecting derricks, cleaning and oiling derricks, and performing other general maintenance tasks around the rig.

In launching the program’s initial class, the partners focused on offering the opportunity to military veterans returning from active service and dislocated workers.

“We have turned attention to those people who want to work, but need some assistance getting the proper training,” said John Blasdell, Assistant Director of Continuing Education at Penn State DuBois.  “This strengthens our region’s workforce in two ways; it puts people in jobs, and it provides quality employees for companies who need them.”

The training program is a product of the collaboration between the Marcellus Shale   Education & Training Center (MSETC) at Pennsylvania College of Technology, ShaleNET, the North Central Workforce Investment Board, Superior Energy Resources, Pennsylvania CareerLink, and Penn State DuBois.  Once the training program is completed, the graduates will also have the opportunity to attend a job fair organized by the training providers that will help them land a job right away.

“It’s an intense program that spans three weeks,” said Blasdell, noting that those who complete the course can have advantages over workers who try to enter the industry with no prior training. “It prepares floor hand workers for gainful employment in the shale gas industry by giving them a head start.  We know what credentials are needed in the industry and we offer those credentials, plus job placement. This program demonstrates Continuing Education’s ability to serve the various needs of the of our region, from adult students interested in baccalaureate and associate degrees, to providing short-term training opportunities for quick entry into the workforce.”

Blasdell added that trained employees who have developed the proper skill sets can also quickly advance in this rapidly growing industry.  He said, “The jobs we help to place people in are front-line, entry level jobs, but with training and a good work record, they have tremendous opportunity for promotion.”

Blasdell said the jobs in the gas industry are also going to be around for a long time.

According to ShaleNET, the Marcellus Shale deposit will yield decades of gas production. The drilling of a single well requires 400 people working in nearly 150 occupations.

For more information, contact Blasdell at 814-375-4822, or

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