Posted on: Dec , 2023

Recently, I had the privilege of receiving an article from one of our esteemed subscribers, Jerry Taylor. With an impressive 61 (yes, 61!) years of experience as a seasoned landman, Jerry penned an insightful piece delineating the nuances of a landman’s role and the broader landscape of land work. Upon seeking his permission to share this valuable resource with all of you, Jerry generously granted his consent.

Given Jerry’s wealth of experience, I’ve decided to present his article in installments over the upcoming months. However, in the spirit of the holiday season, I thought it fitting to kick off by providing an overview of his enlightening piece.

Thank you, Jerry!

What is a Landman?

By Jerry Taylor

Over the years I have been asked many times what do you do, where do you work or what is your career. When I reply that I am a Petroleum Landman, it is usually followed with the question, “What does a Petroleum Landman do?” It is an easy answer, yet at the same time it is a complex answer, for a Petroleum Landman is one who wears many hats. (I must insert a caveat here to say that there are many very capable women in this profession and I know of no lady who insists on being called a Landwoman, Landman being accepted as a generic term.)

A Landman who wears many hats can establish a career path in the Petroleum Industry and have a broad based knowledge of many professions associated with this industry. He may have a degree in one or more of these professions or no degree at all. He may master any one or more of these professions with college degrees and experience, or he may become proficient in many through informal education and experience with mentors. Bottom line is that he has a deep knowledge of many facets of the oil business which are particularly associated with land and minerals.

This White Paper identifies the knowledge, education, and skills of varied professions, some knowledge of which goes into the making of a proficient Petroleum Landman. Many successful Petroleum Landmen have concentrated in one or two of these areas specifically associated with land and/or minerals and developed a very satisfying and profitable career. There are some who have built successful company’s having started as a Petroleum Landman. The article outlines the diverse skill set and responsibilities of a Landman through the author’s personal experiences. It covers various roles, challenges, and resolutions within the profession:

  1. Ethical Individual: A Petroleum Landman must uphold ethical standards, maintain confidentiality, and avoid kickbacks or dishonest practices.
  2. Negotiator: Though not a conventional salesman, a Landman needs similar skills to negotiate leases and agreements, understanding the product (leases), and closing deals. A landman must also have the ability to negotiate various other agreements and contracts among other companies and with surface owners, respecting the concerns and demands of landowners.
  3. Land Records/Title Researcher: Ability to build an abstract of title from county records, understanding State, Federal, and Bureau records.
  4. Surveyor of Land Descriptions: Understanding how land descriptions are generated, calculated, and recorded in county records.
  5. Real Property Law Advisor: Interpreting legal documents related to land titles and understanding the difference between land ownership and mineral rights ownership.
  6. Public Relations Advocate: Representing clients in negotiations and being a key point of contact for land/mineral owners before, during, and after lease agreements. Also, the public facing point-person for the oil and gas industry.
  7. Geological Knowledge: Addressing basic geological inquiries from landowners, relying on experts when needed to explain subsurface exploration.
  8. Understanding Petroleum Engineering: Answering questions about drilling processes, safety measures, environmental concerns, and explaining drilling-related issues to landowners.
  9. Arbitrator/Mediator: Resolving disputes between parties involved in contracts, leases, or damages, maintaining calm and aiming for amicable resolutions.
  10. Appraiser: Determining fair compensation for damages, considering surface use, land destruction, and inconvenience to landowners due to energy operations.
  11. Mentorship: Passing on knowledge and experiences to newcomers in the industry, helping them navigate various aspects of Petroleum Land work.
  12. Manager/Supervisor Role: Transitioning from a hands-on Landman to supervising personnel and multiple projects, multitasking, and decision-making.

Make it your New Year’s Resolution to gain a certificate from Midland College in your field of land management. Whether you are a landman, division order analyst or lease and title analyst, there is so much you can do to catapult your career to the next level by achieving this impressive credential for your resume!


Jerry Taylor is a professional landman with extensive expertise in the realm of Petroleum Land Management and Law. A graduate of the University of Texas with a Business Degree in Petroleum Land Management in January 1962, Jerry then earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from LaSalle Extension University in December 1971.

Over the years he has worked at Hunt Oil Company in Williston, ND, California Oil Company (predecessor to Chevron Oil Company), across multiple locations in Casper, Wyoming, and Denver, Colorado, Mitchell Energy and Development Corp. As an independent landman he has partnered with Wagner & Brown, Ltd., EXCO Partners Operating Partnership LP, TXOK Texas Energy Resources, LP, ONEOK Energy Marketing & Trading, Quantum Resources Management LLC, H & B Oil & Gas Ltd., Reliance Energy, and First Capitol Petroleum (serving as president for two years).

We thank Jerry for his dedication to our profession and for sharing his knowledge and experience with this enlightening article.