Career Profile: Landman

AKA:  Field Representative, Title Specialist, Lease Specialist

What is a Landman?

A Landman is the person who ensures oil and gas and other energy companies secure the right to use, drill on or pump through property owned by individuals, businesses and governments.

What does a Landman do?

A Landman researches who owns the land, or the minerals, water, lumber or other precious resources on or beneath the land, and then negotiates leases between landowners, mineral or resource owners (mineral owners own the rights to the resources on or beneath the land, but don’t own the land) and energy companies.  Landmen work in the field, spending a great portion of their time in courthouses and archives and in the homes and offices of landowners and resource owners.

In addition to researching titles, landmen trace ownership of land and mineral rights, research patented mining claims, source water, acquire temporary right-of-way, buy leases and negotiate deals.  A Landman must be a skilled and determined researcher, an able negotiator and proficient in state real estate, mining and mineral laws.  Senior landmen also prepare deeds, affidavits, notices, releases of leases and land and leasing reports.  They also arrange probates, manage claim-staking projects, coordinate multi-rig drilling.

A Landman must have excellent communication skills because the job requires that s/he interface with landowners, geologists, government officials, attorneys, engineers and energy company executives.

A typical job description for a Landman includes some or all of the following:

Responsibilities:

  • Researches and documents farmouts, leases, rights-of-way, joint ventures and other types of oil and gas agreements;
  • Supports in-house title in gathering, organizing and analyzing title documents and performing internal title updates;
  • Coordinates between the different sections of the land department;
  • Provides administrative support and record keeping to the title section; and
  • Provides assistance to the drilling and operations land staff.
  • Prepares lease agreements, records rental receipts and performs other activities necessary to efficiently manage Company properties;
  • Prepares and facilitates the execution of specialized lease documents;
  • Participates as a team member of the development team for a geographic region; and
  • Coordinates and distributes work assignments for contract personnel for lease acquisitions.
  • This position requires an individual who is experienced in the exploration and production business and well versed in all types of transactions, including farm-ins and farm-outs, joint ventures, acquisitions, dispositions, swaps, etc.
  • Lease Checks
  • Leasing with reports updated weekly
  • Land Reports
  • Runsheets and Abstracts
  • Title Curative

Required Skills

  • Working knowledge of Tax Maps, Farmline and topo maps and property deeds
  • Working knowledge of deed plotter programs and chain of title programs
  • Ability to effectively handle multiple tasks at one time

Required Experience

  • Associate’s degree in land management, paralegal studies or related field or at least two years of related land experience which demonstrates a knowledge of title curative, right-of-ways, oil and gas lease documents, farmouts, mineral severance oil and gas contracts, joint ventures and courthouse research

For whom does a Landman work?

A Landman can work as a contractor or as an employee for environmental consulting firms, mining and energy companies, nonprofit organizations and city/state governments.  Most landman work in Colorado, Louisiana, Texas, West Virginia or Oklahoma, though the growth of wind energy is creating opportunities in North Dakota, Kansas, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Michigan, New York, Illinois, California, Wisconsin, Maine and Missouri.

They work for companies including Halliburton, Schlumberger and Oceaneering, BP, Chevron, Reliant, Green Mountain energy, and Hilcorp.

How much does a Landman earn?

A Landman earns $150-$450 per day as a contractor, or $50,000-$80,000 per year.  A senior landman with a bachelor’s degree and 5 or more years of experience can earn about $88,000 per year, and a landman with a law degree can earn six figures.  The “Average Salary” chart to the right shows the average salaries for landman jobs currently posted online.  As you can see, salaries are considerably higher than the industry average.

Who might love this career?

Lawyers who want a career change, paralegals who want to specialize, and anyone who enjoys research, interacting with a variety of people in a variety of roles, and spending lots of time in hotels and motels in small towns.

What about this career doesn’t suck?

The Landman job is one of those rare jobs that can work for a person who prefers to work alone and for a person who considers themselves a people person.  Landmen can wear jeans to work.  They get paid to be friendly to landowners, but also to be shrewd negotiators.  They get to work as little or as much as they like, taking on projects that last one day or several months.  A mid-career Landman can work 6 months out of the year and earn more than $80,000 per year.  And, if that’s not enough, the market for landmen is heating up with the growth of the clean energy (wind, natural gas, water and solar) industry and America’s race to become energy-independent.

To break in, …

To break into the landman field, you’ll need to earn at least an associate’s degree or paralegal certification.  You’ll need to learn everything you can about real estate, mining and mineral rights laws in your state.  Get a legal primer.

To earn top pay, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree and a landman certification from the American Association of Professional Landman (AAPL).  The lowest level certification requires a BA or 4 years of experience in landwork.  Learn more about certification.  Landman with law degrees earn the highest pay, and can move into real estate or oil and gas attorney positions and earn $200,000 or more per year.

There are plenty of organizations offering landman education programs.  Some of them are credible.  None of them are required.  But, it’s best to begin with home study courses from AAPL and/or with college/university courses in petroleum land management, energy management, real estate law, paralegal studies, legal research, geology, and clean technology (wind, water, solar or other natural energy sources).  The AAPL offers scholarships to students enrolled in approved petroleum/energy management programs at Texas Tech University, University of Calgary (Canada), University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Oklahoma, University of Tulsa (OK), and Western State College of Colorado.  Learn more about the Landman Scholarship Trust or download scholarship application.

If you want to test your interest and skill level as a landman, try researching the mineral rights for the land on which you or your parents live.

Current Landman Job Openings

More Information

To learn more about the energy industry and about landman job opportunities, visit the following sites.

American Association of Professional Landman (AAPL) – Professional association and certifying organization

International Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) – Trade association that provides career information, networking and job opportunities

IPAA Job Board

Petroleum land management, energy management, geology and other education programs

Landman101.com – General information about the landman career

Petroleum Landman School

National Association Petroleum Executive (NAPE) – A twice-a-year event that serves as a marketplace for the buying, selling and trading of oil and gas prospects and producing properties (added in 1998) via exhibit booths. Excellent networking and job-hunting opportunity!

Minerals & Mining Law Primer

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