I went to college for an engineering degree that was focused specifically on pipeline maintenance. There are only a few programs like this but they are a big boost if you want to get a pipeline operator job.
As the article mentions, pipeline operations have become increasingly technical. It takes more than just an ability to fix things to keep pipelines in good working order. It requires a knowledge of physics, engineering and chemistry.
I would suggest to anyone looking to break into the industry that they get the most specific education possible. There is a need for pipeline operators but companies want to hire people who know what they are doing and can innovate.