My Live on the Oil Fields
Mae Muhlnickel

“Honest labour bears a lovely face,” Thomas Dekker Mae Muhlnickel: My Life As A Hazmat Driver In The Oil Fields

Mae Muhlnickel is a head turner.  Not because she’s a beautiful, fiery red-head powerhouse, but because she’s a minority in the oilfield.  She’s proof positive that a woman can do a “man’s job” and do it well.

Trucking has long been a male-dominated field.  There are approximately 3.5 million CDL holders in the U.S.– 200,000 are female.  In the oil, fracking industry, only 7% of all workers are women.

Muhlnickel, 25, grew up in trucking.  Both her mom and dad were life-long drivers.  In fact, Muhlnickel got her start in trucking by driving  team with her father.

Mae Muhlnickel: My Life As A Hazmat Driver In The Oil Fields After an 8 month stint with her father, Muhlnickel spread her wings and signed on with company that hauled mulch to Canada.

Less than a year later, Muhlnickel’s mother passed away and she decided that over-the-road wasn’t for her. With trucking deeply engrained in her DNA, she chose to stay in the trucking industry and sought out a job that allowed her to be closer to friends and family.

Her brother told her about a trucking job in Eastern Montana.  Muhlnickel applied and was hired to drive for hazmat carrier Kurtz and Sons.

Muhlnickel drives a crude oil tanker and says that there is no “average day” on the job, but that she typically works 60-80 hours a week and gets to do a job she loves.

When asked how she’s received by others in the oil fields, she replied, with a chuckle, “They say things like, ‘What’s a little girl like Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 11.26.29 AMyou doing in that truck,’ or ‘Is it just you in that big truck?'”

Muhlnickel isn’t intimidated by the work. With a confident voice, she described working on her own truck, digging herself out of deep mud and battling Mother Nature.”

“I’ve taken my truck places I wouldn’t take my 4×4 Trail Blazer,” she said with a laugh.

Muhlnickel said she’s doing a job that leaves her satisfied, “I love being able to see 500-600 barrels of oil being delivered each day.  It’s quantitative proof that you did something.”

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 11.26.14 AMWhile the truck driver turnover rate is more than 100%, Muhlnickel says she loves her job and values her boss.  She said she works a good schedule: 5 days on and 2 days off.  She’s paid hourly and gets 2 weeks of vacation.

For anyone considering work in the oil fields, Muhlnickel offers this advice: dress warm; learn how to work on a truck; practice chaining.

“You’re out there in the middle of nowhere, you’re the only person who can save your own ass,” Muhlnickel said.

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