Top Paying Jobs in Oil and Gas Extraction

Oil and Gas ExtractionThe number of jobs created in the oil and natural gas industry has grown rapidly in the United States. Specifically, the oil and gas extraction subsector is one of the fastest growing in terms of job creation in the country over the last several years.

Industries in the Oil and Gas Extraction subsector operate and/or develop oil and gas field properties. Such activities may include exploration for crude petroleum and natural gas; drilling, completing, and equipping wells; operating separators, emulsion breakers, desilting equipment, and field gathering lines for crude petroleum and natural gas; and all other activities in the preparation of oil and gas up to the point of shipment from the producing property. This subsector includes the production of crude petroleum, the mining and extraction of oil from oil shale and oil sands, and the production of natural gas, sulfur recovery from natural gas, and recovery of hydrocarbon liquids.

There are a wide range of occupations within the oil and gas industry that are benefitting from this growth, each with varying degrees of responsibilities. We have created a profile of the highest paying jobs in oil and gas extraction using salary information based on 2012 data from the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics.


Petroleum Engineers

Average Hourly Wage: $77.43

Average Annual Wage $161,050

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Petroleum engineers are hired to create, calculate, design, test and implement strategic methods that maximize the profits of oil and gas recovery and extraction. They also estimate the amount of recoverable volume of resources before extraction begins by analyzing data using their expert knowledge and understanding of oil and gas behavior within the earth’s surface. In addition, they also financially analyze the operation to ensure the operation proficiency allows maximum return on the labor.


First-Line Supervisors

Average Hourly Wage: $38.68

Average Annual Wage: $80,450

The first line supervisors oversee and coordinate activities of construction or extraction workers to maximize their strengths and overall labor cohesiveness. Work experience in a related field is required to become a first-line supervisor in the oil and gas industry.


Service Unit Operators

Average Hourly Wage: $23.00

Average Annual Wage: $47,840

Requirements: Moderate-term on-the-job training

The primary responsibilities of a service unit operator, also called “fishermen” among other names, are operating equipment to increase the flow of oil from producing wells and to removing any obstructions from the drilling wells that may impact the flow of oil.  This is a vital job, ensuring that oil flows adequately and freely in order to maximize output.


Rotary Drill Operators

Average Hourly Wage: $27.69

Average Annual Wage: $57,590

Requirements:  Moderate-term on-the-job training

Rotary drill operators set up and/or operate drills to remove oil and gas from the ground. They also remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration. One of the most important aspects of their job includes physically controlling the machines and processes such as the use of measuring devices in construction or extraction work, as well as extracting core samples.


Derrick Operators

Average Hourly Wage: $24.95

Average Annual Wage: $51,890

Requirements: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Derrick operators are responsible for maintenance and upkeep of oil and gas drilling equipment, preparing and operating pumps to circulate mud through the drill hole, controlling drill pipe placement, and inspecting and repairing the drill rigs. Without proper equipment, oil and gas cannot be extracted, making derrick operators a vital part of the team.


Wellhead Pumpers

Average Hourly Wage:  $22.69

Average Annual Wage:  $47,190

Requirements: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Wellhead pumpers are tasked with operating the pumps and auxiliary equipment that produce the flow of gas and oil from the wells. Some outfits also require wellhead pumpers to supervise pump workers on producing wells. Being prepared and responsive to emergencies that may arise is also an important role of their job. In addition, they must be well informed with environmental regulations in case an emergency situation arises.


Gas Compressor and Gas Pumping Station Operators

Average Hourly Wage:  $24.58

Average Annual Wage:  $51,120

Requirements: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Gas operators man the steam, gas, electric motor, or internal combustion engine driven compressors that recover gases such as butane, nitrogen, hydrogen, and natural gas. In addition to operating their stations, Gas operators take samples of gas and perform test to determine the quality. If a problem arises, they must be respond by adjusting the control room and delegate any necessary course of action to resolve the issue.


Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Average Hourly Wage:  $29.00

Average Annual Wage:  $60,320

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Perform surveying and mapping duties, obtaining data used for construction of wells, and create source data maps.  Technicians are also tasked with analyzing the data from surveys, well logs, bore holes, and aerial photos.  They also verify the accuracy and completeness of each map.

As you can see, there are many lucrative positions in the oil and gas industry, and the trend certainly indicates that there will be ample opportunities moving forward.

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