Industry experts in Houston say oil field jobs are going begging due to a shortage of workers.

The industry has bounced back since the downturn two years ago, but lots of workers have since changed careers or retired, according to Lone Star College System officials.

The college offers an eight-week certification program that is the only one of its kind in the world, college officials said in a report aired on Houston's KHOU, a CBS affiliate. The program uses a real rig in Tomball to train students at Baker Hughes.

The program has such a good reputation for preparing workers that employers sometimes try to hire students before they finish the course, Linda Head, Associate Vice Chancellor of Lone Star College System, told the station.

The course costs less than $5,000 and there is financial aid available, Head said.

Good candidates for oil industry jobs include men and women from high school age to past middle age, said James Ward, Lead Instructor for Oil and Gas at the college. They need to have an ability to follow instructions, stay alert on the job, be physically capable and able to work two-week-on, two-week-off, shifts, said Ward.

Starting salaries are easily $40,000 but can rise quickly due to overtime and advancement opportunities, both Head and Ward said.

For more info, contact: Debbie Holmes, Divisional Operations Specialist at Lone Star College System at 281-290-5057. Or visit:

image: Houston Chronicle