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Land Agent


Description

Land agents negotiate the acquisition, administration, disposition and reclamation of surface and freehold mineral rights for activities such as erecting and maintaining a major power line or finding, extracting and transporting onshore oil and gas of organizations and government agencies. They act as a link among corporations, government agencies, agricultural industries and land owners.

A land agent acts on behalf of an employer or an individual as an agent, or negotiates on his or her own for acquiring land using experience and knowledge of land acquisition theories, concepts and practices. A land agent is also a person who offers advice to an owner or his agent with respect to a negotiation for or an acquisition of an interest in land. The influence of government procedures on the utilization of land is examined as it relates to the petroleum industry, pipelines, highways, rights-of-way and other surface rights acquisitions.

Professional land agents, sometimes referred to as landmen or landwomen fill a variety of challenging roles; from corporate strategy formulation and joint venture negotiations, to dealing with surface land holders and land administration. Men and women who work in this field have the unique opportunity to be involved in the petroleum life cycle from the initial play development to the final, critical days of abandonment and reclamation. These employers include appraisers.

Land use, or the way land is utilized, is one of the main aspects of the business. The government classifies land use into different categories such as forest land, agricultural land, residential land and even government land; the most protected land species. Therefore, land agents are knowledgeable in all of these laws and zoning regulations.
 
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Ashford University
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  Interests and Skills  
Land agents have excellent interpersonal and written communication skills, negotiation and public relations skills and have the ability to work under minimal supervision. Successful land agents generally enjoy coordinating office and field services, and supervising and dealing with people from all walks of life.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Acquire surface land rights for well sites and access roads, pipeline rights-of-way, power line and transportation rights-of-way, plant sites and compressor sites
  • Assess environmental controls written into agreements (e.g. to protect wildlife or dispose of hazardous waste)
  • Assess and settle damages
  • Negotiate road use agreements
  • Investigate the condition of soil and crops
  • Coordinate reclamation activities
  • Prepare reports and documentation
  • Testify before regulatory boards
  • Review and interpret land contracts
  • Acquire or assist in acquisition of railroad and road permits for various projects
  • Working conditions for land agents vary. Although they generally work in offices, they spend a great deal of time outside the office showing appraising and looking at properties, meeting people, researching the market and performing related activities. Evening and weekend work is sometimes required. Most land agents work full-time, often working well over 50 hours a week. Also, advances in telecommunications and the ability to retrieve data on properties over the Internet allows many land agents to work out of their homes, instead of in offices.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Land agents usually work in the public and private sectors for oil and gas companies, engineering firms, pipeline companies, electric and gas utilities, communications companies and government agencies. Land agents also may work in a variety of positions and hold different titles: surface land agents, landmen or landwomen, land representatives, municipal land agents, land use technicians, lease negotiators, right-of-way planners, liaison coordinators, land management technicians or contract land agents. Some land agents are self-employed consultants and work in this occupation may be seasonal.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Advancement opportunities vary depending on the agent's educational qualifications and experience. The more clients acquired over time, the better opportunity for earning more money and potential for starting up a private consulting firm.
 

  Educational Paths  
Land agents require at least an undergraduate degree in a related area. They must be computer literate and knowledgeable about current rural issues and agricultural production and protection. Entry-level land agents often require procedural and practical on-the-job training before they can work independently. Therefore, experienced, successful land agents often work alone or with very little supervision.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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