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Mae Muhlnickel: My Life As A Hazmat Driver In The Oil Fields

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“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.

Share your story with CDLLife! Email us at info@cdllife. We’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

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