The Highest-Paying Jobs in the Oil & Gas Industry

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The oil and gas industry has seen a great deal of volatility during the COVID-19 pandemic. A collapse in demand at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 sent oil and gas prices tumbling to historic lows.

More recently, supply has struggled to catch up to demand, leading to price increases in the energy sector that are driving significant inflation.

Amidst these rapid changes, the industry faces challenges with labor. The pandemic has underscored the often cyclical nature of employment in the industry. Recent circumstances have only accelerated rapid changes and volatility seen in the industry over the last two decades, conditions which may be making it harder to attract and retain employees.

One of the major trends in the industry in recent years has been a divergence between rising productivity and lower employment. New techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling emerged around the turn of the century, which has made it easier to extract oil and gas from shale deposits.

This led to a boom in oil and gas production beginning in the mid-2000s, but a glut of supply eventually triggered a collapse in prices that brought many companies to lay off employees. Employment in the industry declined sharply from 2014 to 2016, and total employment has remained at lower levels ever since.

decline in oil and gas extraction employment

Reduced employment in the oil and gas industry may continue for other reasons as well. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are poised for continued growth in the coming decades due to technological improvements that have made them more affordable and viable as an alternative to fossil fuels.

The improving economics of renewables, along with continued efforts to limit carbon emissions from policymakers, could lead to a continued decline in employment in the oil and gas industry.

While job opportunities in the industry may be on the decline, those who do work in oil and gas continue to enjoy strong compensation.

The field offers some of the highest median wages of any industry, with a typical worker earning $80,710 per year. This total is nearly double the overall median wage for nonfarm workers in the U.S., which was $41,950 per year in 2020.

top paying US industries

A number of factors contribute to the sector’s high compensation levels. First and foremost, the industry is large and profitable, which allows companies to compensate their employees more highly.

This means that oil and gas companies can be competitive with other industries when attracting professionals with valuable skill sets like management, finance, or law.

Even manual labor in the field is remarkably well-paid compared to other industries, in part to attract potential workers despite difficult working conditions and potential safety risks.

Further, many positions in the oil and gas industry require specialized expertise in fields like engineering, geology, and mineralogy and pay well to attract workers with that knowledge.


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The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To identify the best-paying jobs in the oil and gas industry, researchers at Commodity.com looked at occupational statistics for jobs in the “Oil and Gas Extraction” subsector.

Occupations were sorted based on their median annual wage. Researchers also compared each occupation’s median annual wage in the oil and gas industry with its median annual wage across all industries.

Only occupations with employment and wage data for 2020 were included in the analysis.

Here are the highest-paying jobs in the oil and gas industry.

The 15 Best-Paying Oil & Gas Jobs

Mining and Geological Engineers

15. Mining and Geological Engineers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $138,380
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $93,800
  • Oil & gas difference: +47.5%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 260
  • Total employment across all sectors: 6,270

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General and Operations Managers
Photo Credit: sirtravelalot / Shutterstock

14. General and Operations Managers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $138,790
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $103,650
  • Oil & gas difference: +33.9%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 3,930
  • Total employment across all sectors: 2,347,420
Industrial Production Managers
Photo Credit: Fh Photo / Shutterstock

13. Industrial Production Managers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $139,080
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $108,790
  • Oil & gas difference: +27.8%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 740
  • Total employment across all sectors: 179,570
Chemical Engineers
Photo Credit: bogdanhoda / Shutterstock

12. Chemical Engineers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $139,260
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $108,540
  • Oil & gas difference: +28.3%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 490
  • Total employment across all sectors: 25,770
Training and Development Managers
Photo Credit: SeventyFour / Shutterstock

11. Training and Development Managers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $143,020
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $115,640
  • Oil & gas difference: +23.7%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 40
  • Total employment across all sectors: 38,710
Natural Sciences Managers
Photo Credit: SeventyFour / Shutterstock

10. Natural Sciences Managers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $148,780
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $137,940
  • Oil & gas difference: +7.9%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 230
  • Total employment across all sectors: 75,870
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers
Photo Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock

9. Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $150,370
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $118,430
  • Oil & gas difference: +27.0%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 80
  • Total employment across all sectors: 81,110
Sales Managers
Photo Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock

8. Sales Managers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $151,420
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $132,290
  • Oil & gas difference: +14.5%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 150
  • Total employment across all sectors: 390,170
Geoscientists
Photo Credit: Adwo / Shutterstock

7. Geoscientists

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $153,740
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $93,580
  • Oil & gas difference: +64.3%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 2,780
  • Total employment across all sectors: 27,890
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Photo Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock

6. Computer and Information Systems Managers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $153,790
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $151,150
  • Oil & gas difference: +1.7%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 800
  • Total employment across all sectors: 457,290
Financial Managers
Photo Credit: MIND AND I / Shutterstock

5. Financial Managers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $155,040
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $134,180
  • Oil & gas difference: +15.5%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 1,590
  • Total employment across all sectors: 653,080

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Marketing Managers
Photo Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock

4. Marketing Managers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $166,860
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $142,170
  • Oil & gas difference: +17.4%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 420
  • Total employment across all sectors: 270,200
Lawyers
Photo Credit: Flamingo Images / Shutterstock

3. Lawyers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $176,650
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $126,930
  • Oil & gas difference: +39.2%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 500
  • Total employment across all sectors: 658,120
Architectural and Engineering Managers
Photo Credit: Aleksandar Malivuk / Shutterstock

2. Architectural and Engineering Managers

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: $191,120
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $149,530
  • Oil & gas difference: +27.8%
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 1,590
  • Total employment across all sectors: 195,900
Chief Executives
Photo Credit: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

1. Chief Executives

  • Median annual wage in the oil & gas sector: >$208,000
  • Median annual wage across all sectors: $185,950
  • Oil & gas difference: N/A
  • Total employment in the oil & gas sector: 270
  • Total employment across all sectors: 202,360

Methodology & Detailed Findings

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) database.

To identify the best-paying jobs in the oil and gas industry, researchers looked at occupational statistics for jobs in the “Oil and Gas Extraction” subsector.

Occupations were sorted based on their median annual wage. Researchers also compared each occupation’s median annual wage in the oil and gas industry with its median annual wage across all industries.

Only occupations with employment and wage data for 2020 were included in the analysis.

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