Oil field employment – high salaries, double what other industries pay; many perks and bonuses. Only the sin industries of gambling, tobacco and alcohol pay their workers as much money. Is it any wonder that many job seekers eagerly look for an oilfield job? But what are the actual benefits of jobs in oil field, and are they worth going through so much effort?
High Pay, Bonuses And Benefits
Government salary statistics gathered in 2004 report that rig welding jobs pay $62,000 compared to $30,000 for a welding job in the manufacturing industry. Entry level roustabouts make $45,000 while regular construction laborers makes $24,000. As you can see, the oil industry pays double the salary for blue collar jobs.
But white collar positions like petroleum geologists also earn high salaries. New graduates with Masters or PhD degrees earn $80,000 to $110,000, not including sign-up bonuses and other perks. Other degrees, like petroleum engineering and chemical engineering, are also paid very highly.
You can verify these salary data yourself – government agencies like the Department of Labor and trade associations like the American Association of Petroleum Geologists publish these salary information. So do job boards and recruitment agencies.
2. Oil Field Jobs Still Have Good Prospects
Shareholders and CEOs do not like it, but oil drilling companies still have to hire new people. Companies in the oil and gas industry still face personnel shortages, whatever their management says about laying off workers. In 2006, a UK government report highlighted that oil drillers did not have enough managers, professional and technical staff. The staff shortage got even worse in 2008, and just because there is a recession in 2009 doesn’t magically make oil companies have enough workers.
Many oil fields are past their prime and production is declining. Multinational oil companies like Shell desperately need to discover new oil fields. Their situation is made worse by an aging workforce, especially a lack of younger geologists qualified to prospect for oil. Like many other large oil companies, Shell froze hiring during the slump in oil prices ($10/barrel) during the 1980s, and they now need to find new workers to replace their retiring workers and man new projects and oil rigs. Noble Corporation, one of the world’s largest offshore drilling companies, is another case in point. They have 5 new oil rigs, and need to fill up to 1500 vacancies.
While oil service companies listed on the stock exchange like Schlumberger and Halliburton say that they will cut their workforce during the recession, the fact that they did not present concrete plans strongly suggests that the news is just a public relations stunt to boost their stock prices. They may slow down the hiring new workers, but the slack will be taken up by private oil drilling companies. This is just like the 80s, when the major oil companies stopped hiring new workers and stopped building oil rigs. Instead, private investors did the reverse. They invested in new oil rigs, then when oil prices recovered in the 2000s, they sold or hired out their oil rigs for enormous sums of money. Basically, oil field employment will always be around. The actual employer changes, that’s all.
Once you get your first oilfield job, you can expect good salaries and prospects for the next few decades. Whether you work for a public-listed oil company or a privately-held firm, oil field employment will be around for a long time to come.