15 Best Paying Jobs in the Energy Industry (2022)

Article Summary:

Joining the energy workforce might be the best next step for your career. For one thing, you can make six figures with a job in energy. Based on median salary data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the three highest paying energy-related jobs are computer and information systems managers, architectural managers, and petroleum engineers.

Some 7.8 million Americans make a living in the energy industry. There are hundreds of directions to choose from when it comes to the energy industry. That means that you are likely to find a niche to which your skill set and interests are applicable. So, are you feeling called to start a new career or change paths? Then keep reading to learn about the best paying jobs in energy.

What are energy sector jobs?

The energy industry includes a network of companies that work together to produce and supply energy to a region. Energy sector jobs are all of the jobs that contribute directly or indirectly to producing energy. The following are some examples of types of energy that employ millions of people:

Renewable energyNon-renewable energy
Solar energyPetroleum
Wind energyNatural gas
HydropowerCoal
Geothermal energyNuclear energy

Companies around the world need workers to help extract, refine, produce, and supply these energies and more. So, if you’re interested in or passionate about any specific type of energy, you can likely apply your skills to a job in that field. For instance, consider the following areas of opportunity:

The most common job categories in the energy sector
EngineeringInformation technologyBusiness and management
Operators and techniciansScience

In this article, we’ll review the top best-paying jobs in energy in each of these categories. Whether it’s in the renewable energy sector or the oil and gas industry, your dream job might just be in the energy sector.

Pro tip

The energy industry intersects with the capital goods industry. Check out this SuperMoney article to learn more about jobs in the capital goods industry.

Pros and cons of jobs in energy

Energy jobs make up 2% of the world’s employment. Just like any occupation, energy careers come with advantages and disadvantages. And each specific subsector in energy comes with different pros and cons. Finding the best job for you is about finding the pros-to-cons balance that best aligns with your life goals and needs.

WEIGH THE RISKS AND BENEFITS

Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

Pros
  • Necessity: We will always need energy. That’s a fact. Therefore, applicable skills in harvesting, storing, and distributing energy offer strong job security and stability.
  • Renewable energy: Renewable energy jobs are consistently on the rise, offering the opportunity to help shift the planet to forms of energy supporters consider sufficient yet more sustainable.
  • Wages: Many of the best-paying jobs in the world fall under the energy sector. While there is a wide range of potential salaries in the energy sector, there are many opportunities for high-paying jobs in energy.
  • Diversity: There are diverse opportunities within the energy sector. The energy industry has opportunities for both blue-collar and white-collar workers. You can work in the field or an office, travel, or stay in one place. Almost every corner of the world needs people to fill energy jobs of all kinds.
Cons
  • Uncertainty: In both renewable energy and non-renewable energy, there is underlying uncertainty. For example, while petroleum has been a leading resource in energy, it is non-renewable and will run out sooner or later. Renewable resources like wind energy are promising, but it’s not certain they won’t be replaced by solar or hydroelectric energy. As well, renewal energy’s detractors do not believe any combination of renewables will ever be sufficient to meet our energy requirements, meaning they’ll have to give way to other forms of energy that can do the job.
  • Pollution: Some forms of energy, such as coal, contribute to environmental pollution. As a result, participating in such industries may pose ethical concerns for you.
  • Government: Although many energy companies are private, the energy sector often relies on government funding and policy. Changes in administration can lead to changes in jobs in energy.

Introducing the top 15 best paying jobs in energy

There are thousands of occupations that contribute to the energy sector. The following is a list of the three best paying energy jobs in each job category according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. These 15 jobs will give you an idea of what kind of money you can expect to make in the energy industry and what it takes to get such jobs.

Engineering jobs in energy

Engineers help build the modern world. That explains why they’re paid well in the energy industry. Almost any type of engineering can apply to the energy sector. For example, petroleum engineers, civil engineers, materials engineers, chemical engineers, and industrial engineers all play large parts in the energy industry. The following are the top 3 highest paying jobs in engineering within the energy sector.

1. Petroleum engineer

One energy career well-known to be high-paying is petroleum engineering. Petroleum engineers support the oil and gas industry by designing extraction equipment, developing drilling plans, and monitoring extraction sites. They often get to work partly in the field at well sites and partly in an office.

The median salary of a petroleum engineer in 2021 was $130,850. Meanwhile, the job outlook for petroleum engineers is growing at about 8%. Petroleum engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering or a related field, such as civil engineering.

2. Aerospace engineer

Aerospace engineers are important in the energy sector for several reasons, the primary being they can specialize in the design and operation of turbines. They are well-versed in design standards and engineering principles required to create efficient energy systems.

The median salary of an aerospace engineer in 2021 was $122,270. Meanwhile, the job outlook for aerospace engineers is growing at about 8%. As for education, aerospace engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or an aerospace systems-related degree.

3. Nuclear engineer

Nuclear engineers make nuclear energy possible. They are directly responsible for designing intricate nuclear equipment, overseeing construction and operations, and drafting plans and instructions for nuclear facilities.

The median salary of a nuclear engineer in 2021 was $120,380. Meanwhile, the job outlook for nuclear engineers is declining at about -8%. You typically need a bachelor’s degree and some experience in nuclear engineering to qualify for the job.

Breaking into engineering

As you’ve just seen, engineering jobs in the energy industry have very specific educational requirements. This could mean going back to school if you’ve already graduated with an unsuitable baccalaureate degree. Should your educational background or other factors prevent you from funding your education entirely with government-guaranteed loans, you may wish to explore private student loans as a supplement.

Operators and technician jobs in energy

Operators and technicians are the people who keep the energy sector running. This title includes occupations such as power plant operators, solar energy technicians, nuclear technicians, and more. The following are the three best-paying operator and technician jobs in energy.

4. Nuclear technician

Nuclear technicians are important in ensuring the safe, effective, and responsible production of nuclear energy. They are responsible for monitoring equipment, measuring radiation levels, collecting samples, controlling equipment, and educating staff on safety procedures.

The median salary of nuclear technicians in 2021 was $99,340. Meanwhile, the job outlook for this occupation is declining at about -17%. As far as education goes, nuclear technicians typically have at least an associate’s degree in nuclear science or a related field.

5. Power plant operator

Renewable energy companies and non-renewable energy companies need power plant operators. Power plant operators typically work directly with power-generating equipment. Specifically, they monitor charts, meters, and gauges and control generators, turbines, and other equipment.

The median salary of power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers in 2021 was $94,790. Meanwhile, the job outlook for this occupation is declining at about -14%. As for educational background, power plant operators typically have a high school diploma or equivalent and extensive training.

6. Electrical power-line installer

Electrical power-line installers are vital to the distribution of electricity from power plants to communities. Their duties include installing, maintaining, inspecting, and repairing power lines, voltage regulators, transformers, switches, and more. Put succinctly, they install, maintain, or repair the power lines that move electricity.

Electrical power-line installers often get to drive to work sites in different locations and work outside. This role requires strict adherence to safety standards and on-the-job training.

The median salary of line installers and repairers in 2021 was $74,530. Meanwhile, the job outlook for this occupation is increasing at about 6%. As for prerequisite education, line installers and repairers typically have a high school diploma or equivalent and technical training.

On the subject of educational prerequisites, one option for funding the required training could be a personal loan.

IT jobs in energy

Information technology, or IT, jobs are important to the energy industry. After all, the world runs on software and hardware. As technology advances, we need IT specialists to fill roles in the energy industry. The following are the three highest paying energy jobs in IT.

7. Computer and information systems manager

Computer and information systems managers analyze an organization’s IT needs and consult them on the best methods for meeting those needs. They often plan and direct the installation and maintenance of hardware and software. This role involves working in an office, learning on the job, and managing a team.

The median salary of computer and information systems managers in 2021 was $159,010. Meanwhile, the job outlook for this occupation is growing at about 16%. As for schooling, computer and information systems managers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science. Some positions will also require a graduate degree.

8. Software developer

Software developers are crucial to energy production and distribution in the modern world. Specific job responsibilities for software developers vary based on their field. Regardless, their essential duties involve analyzing user needs and designing software tools to meet those needs.

The median salary of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers in 2021 was $109,020. Meanwhile, the job outlook for this occupation is growing at about 25%. Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a similar field.

9. Energy systems analyst

Energy systems analysts are experts on specific systems. They collect and analyze system data, develop models, and write reports. This occupation can apply to any type of energy production.

The median salary of energy systems performance analyst is approximately $80,000. Meanwhile, the job outlook for this occupation is growing at about 23%. As for essential background, energy systems analysts typically have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in operations research or related fields.

Science jobs in energy

The energy sector requires scientists to ask and answer breakthrough questions, innovate new technology, guide energy operations, and more. People with the right temperament and aptitudes find being a scientist in the energy sector both interesting and rewarding. If you think you are such a person, you’ll want to review the following top three best-paying scientist jobs in the energy sector.

10. Atmospheric scientist

Atmospheric scientists are instrumental in optimizing energy production, especially for renewable energy. The work of an atmospheric scientist may include collecting atmospheric data, using computer models, conducting research, generating weather reports, and making recommendations to energy companies.

The median salary of atmospheric scientists in 2021 was $94,570. Meanwhile, the job outlook for this occupation is growing at about 4%. Atmospheric scientists typically have a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

11. Geoscientist

Geoscientists get the opportunity to work outside in the field, in a lab, and in an office. Geologists, geochemists, geophysicists, oceanographers, paleontologists, petroleum geologists, and seismologists are all types of geoscientists.

While each of these professions is distinct, they may have some job responsibilities in common. Typical duties of a geoscientist include executing field studies, analyzing photographs, logs, samples, and other data, and preparing maps, charts, and reports.

The median salary of geoscientists in 2021 was $83,680. Meanwhile, the job outlook for this occupation is growing at about 5%. Geoscientists typically have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions.

12. Materials scientist

Materials scientists can work in research and development labs or in applied science. They usually work in a lab or office.

Typical duties of materials scientists in energy include planning and executing research projects, developing new products, analyzing materials compositions, testing safety and quality, writing technical reports, and more.

The median salary of chemists and materials scientists in 2021 was $79,760. Meanwhile, the job outlook for this occupation is growing at about 6%. Chemists and materials scientists typically have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or materials sciences. Many roles, though, require a master’s or doctoral (Ph.D.) degree.

Business and management jobs in energy

Business and management professionals are important in every industry, including the energy industry. Positions in business and management can look different in different areas of energy.

Renewable energy management dealing with, say, wind and solar can look different from non-renewable energy management dealing with, for example, coal and gas. Examples of energy jobs in business and management include renewable energy consultants, solar project developers, financial analysts, and more.

The good news is that if you have business and management skills, you may be able to apply them to any energy field of your interest. To help you find what interests you most, here are the highest-paying energy jobs in business and management.

13. Architectural manager

Architectural managers use their technical knowledge and management skills to plan and research new developments, track staff and equipment needs, and propose budgets for new projects. They’re usually needed on energy site construction and renovation projects.

The median salary of architectural and engineering managers in 2021 was $152,350. Meanwhile, the job outlook for this occupation is growing at about 2%. Architectural and engineering managers typically have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and related industry experience.

14. Project manager

Project managers in energy may be in charge of construction projects, supply chain operations, and much more. Skills in project management can apply to renewable and non-renewable energy sectors.

The median salary of project managers in the energy sector in 2021 was $119,537. A business or related degree and any applicable experience can help land you a job as a project manager.

15. Wind farm site manager

Wind farm site managers need both technical knowledge and leadership skills. They have their hand in all operations on a wind energy site from safety management, to energy production, to team leadership. It’s ultimately their responsibility to make sure the wind farm functions properly and generates electricity. The median salary of wind farm site managers is $110,630.

Career-switchers’ tip

You’re never too old to find the right career path for you. Fortune favors those who take action. Have you always been interested in industrial machinery and components? Read this article from SuperMoney to learn about available jobs in this industry.

FAQ

What is the highest paying job in renewable energy?

The highest paying job in renewable energy is probably computer and information systems manager. They’re responsible for making sure that the software and hardware that run energy production and distribution are operating effectively.

Is energy a good career?

Energy is a great career for anyone with a combination of skills and interests in a particular energy field.

What is the highest-paying but easiest job?

The highest-paying job in energy that doesn’t always require a college degree is a power plant operator.

What is the richest job to work at?

The professions in energy with the highest median salary are computer and information systems managers, architectural managers, and petroleum engineers. Check out this article for a list of the highest-paying jobs in America.

Does the energy industry pay well?

Yes, most roles in the energy industry pay well. In many professions, you can make six-figure salaries.

Are energy engineers paid well?

Energy engineers can include civil engineers, environmental engineers, aerospace engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, industrial engineers, nuclear engineers, petroleum engineers, and more. They are all paid well, with median salaries ranging from approximately $80,000 to $130,000, depending on the profession.

Key takeaways

  • While many skill sets can be applied to the energy industry, there are five main categories of energy jobs: engineers, operators and technicians, scientists, IT, and business and management.
  • The highest paying jobs in energy include petroleum engineers, nuclear technicians, computer and information systems managers, atmospheric scientists, and architectural managers.
  • Energy jobs pay different salaries based on location, education, experience, and specialty. Research your desired location for job requirements in your field.

Continue your learning

If you’ve found this article interesting but aren’t sold on the idea of a career in energy, don’t worry. You can keep learning about job opportunities with SuperMoney. To do so, check out these articles about the basic industries field, consumer services field, and transportation field.

View Article Sources
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  2. U.S. Energy & Employment Jobs Report — U.S. Department of Energy
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