Once upon a time, I got a job in the oil field. It was definitely an adventure, to say the least!
How to Make Money as a Gate Guard With Your RV
Oil and gas companies may hire security contractors to inspect and sign in vehicles that arrive at the main gate of an oil and gas drilling location. The landowner or the oil company may have certain requirements of all vehicles entering the location, such as allowing an inspection of the vehicle for weapons, cameras, etc.
Most often, however, the job of a gate guard is simply to gather vehicle information, such as the type of vehicle and license plate number, as well as have the driver and passengers identify themselves, who they work for, etc., and sign their name on a check-in sheet. Depending on the size of the oil company, they may hire an established security company that specializes in the oil field gate guarding business, or they may hire a husband and wife team of RV'ers acting as independent contractors.
Your job as an oil field gate guard will not be a particularly exciting one, speaking as someone who's personally done the job, but it can be a stable one that lasts up to several months as the well is drilled from start to finish and then put into production.
Where Are the Oil Field Gate Guard Jobs?
There are currently still opportunities available for gate guards in South Texas. Oil and gas drilling activity is still occurring there as a result of the Eagle Ford shale oil discovery.
Many RV'ers already travel to South Texas each year to stay in the Rio Grande Valley, and some take the opportunity to work at these jobs for a few months to earn extra income. The Eagle Ford shale area is located about 200 miles north of the Rio Grande Valley, but winters are still fairly mild in that part of South Texas. You may find that you're able to earn a good living while living in your own RV instead of having to pay money to live in an RV park.
While there won't be any square dancing or potluck suppers at your work location, you can earn anywhere from $100 to $300 per day for spending your time there. Not many oil field security companies or oil and gas exploration companies advertise for gate guard jobs.
The best way to find out who may be hiring is to simply stop at a gate guard trailer along the roadway in oil field country and ask the guard who they are working for and if they are hiring any new guards. Most of these folks will be friendly and glad to help another RV'er get into the business. Leave them your resume, references, and business cards that you have made up, with your name and "Gate Guard for Hire" on them.
The best way to start out in the oil field gate guarding business and begin earning money with your RV is to get hired on by an established security company.
What Does an Oil Field Gate Guard Setup Look Like?
While driving down rural roads in oil drilling areas such as South Texas, you're likely to see a scattering of travel trailers parked at ranch gates, each with a generator humming away and a stop sign set up. You might want to simply stop and ask one of these folks if the oil company or security company they work for is hiring new contractors.
If you have any previous security experience, such as that of a deputy sheriff, ex-military, private security guard, etc., this is often a big advantage. Also, being older and retired with a nice-looking RV can give you a higher degree of credibility with gate guarding companies.
What the Day-to-Day Life of an Oil Field Gate Guard Is Like
As an oil field gate guard, you'll most likely see the same rig workers and oil field company representatives over and over throughout the course of the drilling of the well. You'll have the opportunity to meet interesting people, watch a fair amount of satellite TV, and read lots of books.
If you're married, your spouse can work one shift and you the other. How you determine who works what hours is generally up to you. If it is a very busy period, with lots of trucks and traffic, you can take turns waking up and signing in vehicles.
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On some oil rig locations, getting regular sleep may not be much of an option. The company may require, or traffic may necessitate, that one person is always up. To do this, you and your partner will have to work in shifts. Generally, most of the traffic will occur in the early morning and late evening, as the oil rig crews change shifts, but vehicles of all kinds will come during a 24-hour period. This can make it a challenge to get a decent amount of rest at times.
Traffic will mostly consist of large semi-trucks that are hauling drilling mud and water, rig crews coming and going, oil field salesmen (who you're often encouraged to refuse entry to), oil field "company men" or consultants, and oil field service employees. Oil field gate guards are not supposed to talk about drilling activities since most new wells are considered high-security areas. If the oil company has made a valuable discovery, they wouldn't want any information leaking out via the gate guard, and you'd most likely be blacklisted by the industry for doing so.
What You'll Need to Make Money With Your RV as a Gate Guard
You'll need a motor home or travel trailer that's roomy enough to live in for long periods of time. I would suggest one that is at least 30' or longer, preferably a fifth-wheel type for easier towing over rough roads. The oil company may provide you with a small generator and gasoline for your electrical power needs, a portable septic tank that's attached outside your RV and emptied weekly, as well as a freshwater tank to top your RV's tanks off with.
Tank water is usually not potable, and they may also provide you with bottled water for drinking, or you may have to supply your own. In some cases, as an independent gate-guarding contractor, you may have to furnish these things yourself. These items are tax-deductible, of course, as is your RV if you make it a full-time job.
In most cases, you must furnish your own travel trailer or RV, but in some cases, a private security company may provide one for you. Having your own RV is preferred since you can feel more "at home."
Helpful Accessories for Gate Guards
- Cell phone amplifier: Many areas in which oil field gate guards work have poor cell phone reception. I recommend a cell phone amplifier for your RV. A company called weBoost makes one specifically for RVs, which picks up the signal from almost anywhere inside the RV and amplifies it, and transmits it through an antenna you place outside your unit.
- Satellite dish: You'll find that AT&T is the best cell phone carrier for most of South Texas, while Verizon may work better for jobs in the Permian Basin and New Mexico. For internet, you can use your cell phone booster to amplify the signal from your cellular USB air card or tethered cell phone to obtain internet. Another option, which is a bit more expensive, is to have your own Hughes Net or similar kind of satellite dish.
- Motion light: A motion light is also a good idea. Set one up so that it will not blind traffic but comes on automatically to help you see on dark nights.
- Car alarm: A vehicle alarm (I recommend having two sensors) is also a very good thing to have. These can alert you to the presence of traffic at either side of the gate.
Other Ways to Make Money With Your RV
Other ways to make money with your RV or travel trailer include working as a part-time caretaker at an RV park. You can often find classified ads in the back of RV magazines and on online RV'ing sites looking for "park caretakers." Keep an eye out for these kinds of ads, and talk to park owners as you travel. You just might find a free, long-term parking spot to spend the winter at.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Nolen Hart (author) from Southwest on November 04, 2011:
Gate guarding jobs are getting harder to find as more people are aware of this niche career. Oil drilling should pick up after the first of the year so there could be more gate guarding jobs in the Eagle Ford shale and other areas. Showing up in person helps your chances.
discountfence on November 01, 2011:
This sounds like and awesome job, this may be my next venture.
Nolen Hart (author) from Southwest on October 19, 2011:
I've never seen as many gate guards in South Texas as I have now, thanks to the Eagle Ford shale boom.