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Oil and Gas Geologist Jobs: Striking It Rich

With gas prices going through the roof over the past year, you might think the only ones doing well in the petro industry were oil company executives, but oil and gas geologist jobs are also bringing in strong annual salaries, according to a recent report by the Houston Chronicle. The oil biz has been struggling with the problem of older workers and a lack of younger recruits. Since supply is not meeting demand, many oil field jobs are paying more than in previous years.

A recently released study by the University of Houston and the Boyden executive search firm stated that the median salary of a petroleum geologist (with 10 years experience) has increased 23 percent over the past three years, going from $107,500 (2004) to $132,132 (2006). But it's not just the oil and gas geologist jobs; oil drilling rig jobs have hit a gusher, increasing from $36,000 to $58,000 during the same three years. Some oil companies are even paying sign-on bonuses (up to $15,000) to entry-level geologists with master's degrees.

Has your salary struck oil? Find out with our salary calculator.

Fewer Jobs on Oil Rigs in the 80's

According to the University of Houston and Boyden study, the added expense of finding, training and keeping workers in the petroleum market is costing the oil industry more than $5 billion annually. But it wasn't always this way. During the mid-1980s oil crash, petroleum companies cut employee rolls deeply; even George W. Bush got out of the oil biz. According to the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry reportedly lost almost half a million jobs from 1982 to 2000; on top of that, future generations had little interest in oil rig jobs.

Today: Oil Rig Jobs Gulf

In the early 1990's, students passed on oil-related engineering courses in college, and went for technical degrees to get into software development. In the late 1990's, they were aiming for web site development. With the invasion of Iraq and the bounce in oil prices, the petroleum companies suddenly found themselves facing a worker shortage as older employees were retiring. The University of Houston and Boyden study stated that close to 40 percent of the oil industry work force is between 40 and 49, with another 32 percent clocking at 50 or older.

Outlook for Future Geologists

The University of Houston and the Boyden study also said that oil companies may spend as much as $500,000 to train an employee over a 10-15 year career. Since geologists find new oil, it takes three to four years (or more) to train an entry level newbie. Faced with these costs, some petroleum companies are trying to lure older workers out of retirement, but many of these older workers are hiring on for hourly wages much higher than what they earned with their oil drilling jobs, back in the day.

Geologist Salary and More

The study says salaries are way up in the following positions:

• Petroleum geologist: $132,000 a year (10 years' experience)
• Driller: $58,000 a year
• Field engineer: $30,000 a year plus up $400 a day in bonuses for offshore work.

Is your salary black gold? The PayScale Salary Calculator is a quick and easy way to compare positions. When you want powerful salary data and comparisons customized for your exact position, be sure to build a complete profile by taking PayScale's full salary survey.

Cheers,

Dr. Al Lee

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