In Depth: North Dakota Man Camps - KMSP-TV

In Depth: North Dakota Man Camps


It's no secret that many Americans are struggling to find work, but there are 17,545 well-paying positions available in North Dakota, and the FOX 9's Trish Van Pilsum got an inside look to the "man camps" cropping up near the oil fields there.

IMAGE GALLERY: Inside a Man Camp

The Bakken Formation could be holding up to 24 billion barrels of oil, and that means big business and big bucks for workers. Truck drivers can earn up to $100,000. Oil rig workers make an average of $70,000. If you want to work at a nearby Wal-Mart or a fast food place, expect a starting wage of $13-$15 an hour.

Yet, there are downsides to everything, and this is no exception. Workers making the big bucks spend much of their waking hours working. Many people have come out to places like Bismarck and Williston by themselves, and often get lonely without family or friends.

To make matters more complicated, housing is very limited. If you can get it, it will be expensive.
That's why man camps are popping up on the prairie almost as fast as the oil rigs do.
They're dorm-styled temporary buildings that house thousands of workers, mostly men.

Karen Wendt of Brainerd, is one of the few women living and working in one of the man camps near Williston. Wendt is a kitchen supervisor, and she says the guys open up to her -- not because she's a woman, but because she has a sense of humor.

"I'm thinking they need that," said Wendt.

FOX 9's Trish Van Pilsum also met Keith Simmons, who is from Brainerd as well. He was laid off and needed work. Now, he's part of a fracking crew, one of the guys who forces water and sand thousands of feet into the ground to break up the shale that has trapped the oil beneath the ground for years.

"It's crazy. It's like a modern day gold rush," said Simmons.

North Dakota's Job Service told FOX 9 News that there are more than oil-related jobs in the state. Employers are looking for a variety of workers to fill other positions, including construction workers, teachers, lawyers, office workers and professors. These jobs are scattered throughout the state.

Online Resources:

North Dakota Job search


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