If there is one thing I have learned in my life is that if an opportunity presents itself, you must seize it or someone else will.
With that thought, I want to share what may be a little known growing career opportunity for African Americans, Latinos and women.
Nearly 1.9 million job opportunities are projected in the oil and natural gas and petrochemical industries through 2035 to make up for retirements and growth. Those jobs are nationwide, including Colorado.

And the best news is that the American Petroleum Institute, which represents oil and gas companies, is actively supporting and promoting the recruitment of minorities and women.
“We know from the Census Bureau that we will be a majority-minority country by 2044,” said Rebecca Winkel, who co-authored a 2016 API research report detailing how many women and minorities work in the oil and gas business and how that could change in the future. “Those changing demographics demand that we pay more attention to diversity than, perhaps, we have in the past,” she said, during an interview with National Public Radio.

The API report estimates that nationally Latino workers will account for 576,000 jobs and African American workers 131,000 jobs – combining to account for 40 percent of the job opportunities. Women are expected to fill more than 290,000, or 16 percent, of total job opportunities.
Most of the total job growth for African Americans and Latinos are in blue collar jobs, including carpenters, electricians, pipe fitters, welders, and truck drivers, which typically require a high school diploma and some post-secondary education, according to the API report.

Jobs for women are projected in all areas, including professional and managerial positions.
Some jobs that require a four-year degree include engineers, general managers,
geoscientistsand accountants.
Jobs in the oil and gas industry on average pay higher than the U.S. average wage, which is $49,700. For example, oil and gas construction jobs pay on average $72,667. Higher skilled jobs pay more than $100,000. While those wages will fluctuate in each community, it is a real career opportunity.
Active recruiting for minorities and women in Colorado included an event last summer co-hosted by the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce and Colorado Asian Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the Colorado Petroleum Council, a division of API.

“Colorado is leading the way with workforce diversification. It is no secret that the oil and gas industry is old, male and white,” Colorado Petroleum Council Executive Director Tracee Bentley said at the time. “I was thrilled when [the American Petroleum Institute] said, you know what, if there’s any state that could help change this, it’s Colorado.”
So, my advice to anyone interested in the oil and gas industry is to take the initiative and find out what jobs are available. If you don’t someone else will.

Editor’s note: Wellington Webb served as Denver’s 42nd mayor from 1991-2003.