The oil and gas energy market offers a wide range of professions for employees with and without degrees. It includes positions from roustabouts and welders to subsea engineers and petroleum engineers. Many high-paying jobs in oil and gas production also allow employees to travel the world to gain experience and further develop their skills. In short, you can have a rewarding career and earn great money working in oil and gas.
Our society can’t operate without oil and gas. Therefore, it needs oil and gas workers! As humanity grows, our need for reliable energy becomes ever more critical, and the oil and gas industry continues to be one of the leading energy producers worldwide. Moreover, United States crude oil production is poised to reach its highest export volume since World War II.
Are you interested in traveling to new locations, working with various professionals, and providing vital energy to the world? If so, this field may be a perfect fit for you! The oil and gas sector continues to provide some of the highest-paying jobs in America. New deposits can create booms, like those seen in Texas and the Dakotas, but they can turn to busts in a few years if deposits begin to dry up, which makes the oil and gas industry ideally suited for professionals who are both driven and flexible.
Interested in landing a job in this sector? Let’s take a closer look at some of the best-paying jobs in oil and gas.
You can make up to $300k with a job in the oil and gas industry
Whether or not you have a degree suited for oil and gas jobs, you can find high-paying opportunities in this sector. That said, as in most industries, the highest-paying roles typically require more specialized skill sets, experience, and education. If you meet these prerequisites, you can make as much as $300k a year!
Of course, the jobs needed to support oil and gas companies vary from field technicians and welders who operate drills and pumps to project managers and geoscientists who handle financial and technical operations. The good news is that these jobs will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future.
Highest-paying oil & gas jobs that don’t require a degree
The following are a couple of the high-paying jobs in oil and gas production that don’t require a college degree:
Natural gas welders
Natural gas welders work predominantly on machinery, in plants, and in distribution centers for natural gas wells. These workers use handheld or remotely controlled equipment to weld, repair, or cut metal parts and products.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), welders in this field can make a median salary of about $88k per year. This salary can vary depending on the region you work in and the amount of natural gas in demand — for example, gas pipeline welders can earn more than $122k per year!
A daily change of office
Due to the wear and tear on existing plant equipment and the development of new machinery, welders can end up working at numerous gas deposits and plants across multiple geographic regions. They are often closely involved in any proposed construction changes and significant maintenance projects because of their integral role in the building and maintenance of gas-processing equipment and plants.
Welders may work outdoors in all types of weather or indoors in processing plants and distribution hubs across the country. Some assignments can also be more seasonal, depending on the need for natural gas production in certain regions.
Roustabouts (oil rig workers)
Once a land survey manages to discover oil, roustabouts come in to begin the extraction process. These workers spearhead the extraction process that turns crude oil into a usable energy source. Workers are expected to transport, store, install, maintain, and clean up all the materials and equipment involved in the daily operation of a drill site.
The average roustabout salary is around $70k annually, though some roustabouts can earn up to $120k per year. These workers commonly move from project to project as one concludes and another begins. If you like to travel, this job could potentially take you around the world!
Looking for a challenge?
Knowing what to expect is essential whenever you enter a new job. Roustabout is one of the more physically demanding jobs in the oil and gas industry: shifts typically last between 11 and 15 hours. Roustabouts also handle all the heavy machinery and drills needed to penetrate the earth and reach an oil reserve below. Different drilling methods may be used depending on the type of terrain and time of year, so it is common for workers to be covered in oil and mud or snow by day’s end.
Oil & gas production jobs that do require a degree
The following are some of the best-paying jobs in the oil and gas industry that do require a bachelor’s degree or higher:
Subsea engineers are the highest earners in the oil and gas industry. They’re the experts in offshore and undersea drilling equipment. As a subsea engineer, you would be responsible for designing structures and processes necessary for drilling in or near the ocean.
This job involves plenty of problem-solving and navigating obstacles that come with working in the sea, such as low temperatures, high pressure, corrosion, and sea life. Subsea engineers often require diving skills to gather data and monitor drilling sites firsthand. If you like working on diverse energy projects, facing unique challenges, and being in and around the ocean, a subsea engineer could be a good career path for you.
The skills, risk, and specialization involved in this role make it the highest-paying job in oil and gas production. You can earn an average annual salary between $175k and $300k as a subsea engineer.
Petroleum engineering is a rapidly growing field: according to the BLS, the median salary for this profession is around $145k per year. A job in petroleum engineering usually requires a bachelor’s degree, so if you’re interested in this career path, you may want to start seeking out institutions that offer this degree. It would be well worth the investment, as petroleum engineering is among the best-paying jobs in oil and gas.
The main objective of petroleum engineers is to develop oil and gas extraction methods that reach deposits below the earth’s surface. They will often travel to onshore and offshore drilling sites, working closely with other engineers and drilling supervisors.
Due to the environmental hazards commonly associated with offshore oil rigs, petroleum engineers must utilize the most efficient drilling methods and safety measures available. On the upside, this means you would get to spend your days working with cutting-edge energy technology!
Petroleum geologists (geoscientists)
Petroleum geologists perform the essential role of studying the earth’s subsurface to analyze the potential yield of oil and gas deposits.
As a petroleum geologist, your job requirements would include the following:
- Evaluating the geology of a given area
- Analyzing geophysical records
- Modeling subsurface conditions to share with your team
You may also have the opportunity to work with seismic imaging, geochemical data, and oil and gas deposit models.
The average petroleum geologist salary is between $90k and $123k per year. As an added perk, you would potentially visit drilling sites worldwide to conduct your research.
A project manager’s job is to oversee the organization, financing, planning, budgeting, and resource management needed to complete specific goals on a drilling site. Project managers are responsible for the overall implementation, direction, execution, and completion of construction projects.
On average, project managers can earn salaries between $80k and $150k per year. A high-performing project manager strives toward a project’s broad end goal while ensuring that the team is within budget and on schedule. As a project manager, you might manage teams, communicate with clients and contractors, and implement organizational safety programs.
What is the highest-paying job in the oil and gas industry?
Subsea engineers and petroleum engineers are among the highest-paying jobs in oil and gas production. As of 2023, the highest-earning subsea engineers make more than $300k a year.
What is the best job for me in the oil field?
The best job for you largely depends on what you hope to achieve from a career in oil. If you want the challenge of being in the elements and working on machinery, then being a roustabout may be a good choice. On the other hand, if you prefer to stay close to the field but want a more leadership-based position, then a project manager or drilling supervisor may be a better fit.
Is oil and gas production a good career path?
Working in the oil and gas production industry may be a good career path for those interested in the energy sector who possess the required skills and qualifications. Some jobs require degrees, while others require specific skill sets. Though there is currently a broad push for more green energy sources, the need for skilled professionals in oil and gas is likely to persist for the foreseeable future.
Can you make good money in the oil field?
Depending on your skills, experience, and education, you can realistically earn anywhere between $60k and $300k from a job in the oil and gas industry. Employees with the knowledge and skills needed to install, maintain, and run oil rigs can make great money, and experienced contract workers in remote operations often earn more than their peers on more centralized sites.
Why are oil and gas salaries so high?
Four main factors contribute to high salaries in the oil and gas industry: skills, risk, demand, and market. Many oil and gas jobs require specialized skills and qualifications, so individuals who possess highly sought-after knowledge and training are compensated with high pay.
Additionally, some oil and gas jobs come with a certain amount of risk. Basically, the higher the risk to your health and safety, the more you get paid to do your job. The demand for skilled professionals in the oil and gas industry also drives higher salaries: many companies are eager to hire good employees and will pay them well to keep them. Lastly, the oil and gas industry is a highly profitable market, which often translates to higher salaries for employees.
How much do oil and gas CEOs make?
The salary of an oil and gas CEO is highly dependent on the company’s profitability and size, the CEO’s level of expertise, and the specific responsibilities the CEO must undertake. An average estimate of an oil and gas CEO’s salary is $200k, although some make as much as $500k a year.
What is the lowest-paying job on an oil rig?
Typically, one of the lowest-paid jobs in the oil industry is a floor hand. These are the employees who assist the driller in operating the drilling rig and loading tools and equipment. A floor hand on an oil rig typically makes around $43k a year.
How many hours do oilfield workers work?
Some oilfield workers work a standard 40-hour work week, while other workers might have shifts of 12 or more hours a day. Working overtime is common in the oil industry — for example, some contract workers have rotating schedules, which could involve working seven days straight and then taking seven days off.
- The oil and gas sector, while volatile and risky, is a challenging and adventurous field of employment. Many jobs require regular travel to new sites and the ability to work alongside several different types of professionals.
- How much you can earn from a job in the oil and gas production industry will depend on your skill set and education. Having the right college degree or specialized training can drastically increase your earning potential.
- The highest-earning job in oil and gas is a subsea engineer, which earns around $300k per year. This job requires an engineering degree and involves specialized work in the ocean.
- If you don’t have a degree, you can still earn as much as $122k a year as a natural gas welder, provided you have the right skill set for the job.
Are you looking for a rewarding career with a high salary, but you’re not sure if the oil and gas sector is right for you? SuperMoney can help! Check out some of our other guides for exciting career opportunities in the energy industry, public utilities, precious metals, capital goods, industrial machinery components, consumer non-durables, real estate investment trusts, and major banks!
View Article Sources
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- Petroleum Engineers – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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