So You Want to Be a Landman
Becoming a landman can be a very profitable and rewarding way to make a living. But it may not be as easy as you think. A lot of specialized knowledge and communication skills are required to successfully navigate the role of landman, whether it is for oil and gas or any other land-based natural resource.
Independent Contractor or Full Time?
There are two options for a landman to gain employment: as an independent contractor or as a full-time permanent employee for a company interested in exploration and production. Independent contracting is the more typical path as fixed positions are rare, though highly desirable for their obvious safety and stability.
Qualifications to be a Landman
Because the oil and gas industry is so lucrative, it is no wonder that the requirements to become a landman are rather demanding. A four-year degree requirement can be expected for any applicants as a baseline for eligibility, with a degree in a related field (business or something related to oil and gas) as an obvious plus. Experience in oil and gas is also not necessarily crucial but it is a huge benefit. Beyond that, it is important to fit your skills to the job at hand.
What does a Landman do?
A landman’s job is essentially to lay the groundwork so that the hiring company can proceed with exploration and hopefully extraction of whichever natural commodity they are seeking. This begins with determining the mineral and property claims that apply to the area in question which can require obtaining court documentation and researching the legal paperwork that could affect your employer’s interest in and ability to use the land. To be a landman, you should familiarize yourself with the legal principles surrounding property and mineral rights and make sure that your attention to detail and research skills are up to snuff. A degree in legal studies can be hugely beneficial for this part of the job in which you must navigate the different jurisdictions that control areas of interest.
After this stage, you will be going between the company and the landowner, negotiating the lease and arranging payment and access to the land. You will need to be personable and shrewd to make agreements that are well received by the landowner and profitable and efficient for the company. You could be writing the lease itself and ensuring that it is acceptable to all parties.
Skills and Experience
To gain the necessary skills, you may want to consider working in a different area of the oil and gas industry first. There are various training programs available as well, for a fee, that can help you get up to date on the necessary credentials for working as a landman. If you can afford to work for free for a bit, volunteer yourself to help a working landman find applicable court documents and sort through them to gain valuable experience and insight into the job. Working as a lease or title agent can also give you a leg up on other candidates, with the resulting particular experience with relevant legal documents.
The field is increasingly competitive because of its desirability, but you can increase your viability by getting the right degree and starting off in areas that will provide you with valuable experience. If you are detail oriented, personable, and a skilled negotiator, you are likely a great candidate for landman.