The days of big cash for little experience have disappeared as quickly as they came.

Hopes to strike it rich in the oil rigs are no longer realistic, with the price of crude plummeting and the economy slipping further downhill.

Keith Winters, who is on a rig near Fox Creek, says it’s not the place for someone straight out of high school to be looking for work.

“The opportunities are definitely passing,” he said, adding that he’s seen a lot of people laid off or temporarily out of work. He has buddies sitting at home, calling around and hoping for work, he said.

Winters figures that those with no experience have “zero chance.”

He also says it’s an acquired lifestyle and work is not always guaranteed — though he doesn’t feel his own job is in jeopardy since the company he works for is doing well, and has promised to send him to rig-technician classes in March.

Bob Schulz, a professor of strategic management at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, is also the petroleum land management director.

He said that young folks looking to break into the industry should consider going to school and getting some education in the field first.

“In two years, I expect it to go back up to where it was in the last couple of years,” Schulz said. “The question is, ‘What do you do for the next two years?’”