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Published: Dec 30, 2022 13 min read
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With a colossal valuation of $5 trillion as of 2022, the global oil and gas exploration and production industry remains one of the most lucrative sectors on the planet. It's no wonder careers in this industry continue to attract a number of ambitious individuals looking for attractive wages and job stability — according to ZipRecruiter, the highest salaries can reach up to $257,000 per year.

Our Top 7 Picks for the Best Paying Jobs in Oil & Gas Production

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Petroleum engineer

One of the most well-paid oil and gas jobs is that of a petroleum engineer. Their primary responsibility is to devise methods for extracting oil and gas from the ground in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Every day presents unique challenges, as petroleum engineers often have to figure out innovative solutions under tight deadlines.

Working with complex technology and specialized equipment, petroleum engineers also ensure that the entire process of oil extraction is done safely and in compliance with the relevant regulations. They’re also in charge of planning and conducting research to make the extraction process more efficient or reduce costs.

The average salary for a petroleum engineer in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $130,850 per year in 2021. That makes it one of the most lucrative oil industry jobs available today.

Petroleum geologist

Petroleum geology is a highly specialized field of oil and gas jobs. Petroleum geologists work with advanced technology and software to identify oil and gas reservoirs beneath the ground, analyze them and make predictions on how much oil or gas can be safely extracted.

On any given day, these professionals analyze data from seismic surveys, core samples and well logs to develop oil and gas drilling plans. They also prepare reports on the estimated cost of exploration or oil extraction projects and provide advice to oil engineers and other professionals involved in the project.

The average salary for geologists in the oil and gas industry is $100,450. If the healthy balance sheets of 2022 are any indicator, the oil and gas industry is set to grow in the near future. A career as a petroleum geologist can be both financially rewarding and personally satisfying.

Project manager

Project managers are responsible for overseeing oil projects from start to finish. That includes defining project goals, developing plans and assigning resources. They also ensure that the project is completed within time and budget constraints and in compliance with all relevant regulations.

Project managers within the oil sector collaborate with engineers and technicians to ensure a successful operation. Thanks to ever-evolving technology, the role of a project manager has become even more important in the oil and gas industry.

On average, project management specialists in the U.S. earn a salary of $151,750. This figure can vary depending on experience, geographical location and other factors.

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Chemical engineer

The primary responsibility of a chemical engineer is to create processes to refine crude oil into products such as gasoline and kerosene. They also develop chemical products used in oil and gas exploration and extraction.

Chemical engineers are responsible for daily assessments of laboratory data to design successful oil and gas refining processes. Additionally, they must experiment, calculate results and offer ideas on how to maximize efficiency and guarantee safe practices. Chemical engineers should therefore remain knowledgeable and up to date about advances in their area of expertise.

Chemical engineers play an invaluable role in the oil and gas industry, and that comes with attractive salaries. In 2021, the average income for chemical engineers was $167,120 per year.

Drilling consultant

Drilling consultants are oil and gas industry experts who thoroughly inspect seismic surveys, core samples and other data sources to locate regions with possible oil and gas reserves. Their knowledge base and skillsets are essential for conducting successful drilling operations while maintaining safety throughout the entire process.

Oil companies rely on drilling consultants to make informed decisions concerning drilling sites, develop safety measures, and offer technical support. Their success relies on their ability to think critically and quickly, while also possessing an in-depth knowledge of the industry they serve.

The average salary for a drilling consultant in the U.S. is $78,670.

Gas plant operator

Gas plant operators are responsible for monitoring and controlling the operations of gas plants. They must accurately read gauges, adjust valves and operate machinery to ensure safety, efficiency and accuracy. They also inspect oil and gas pipelines for leaks or other issues that could affect production.

In the day to day, gas plant operators work closely with other oil industry personnel to ensure that all operations are running smoothly. They must be able to make quick and accurate decisions as well as have an understanding of the relevant safety protocols.

Gas plant operators in the U.S. pocket an average of $70,720 per year.

Environmental manager

Drilling and extracting oil has enormous environmental risks. In recent years, oil production practices has come under increased scrutiny as climate change has become fact. As a result, oil and gas companies have been looking for environmental managers to help reduce risks and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

Environmental managers are responsible for investigating how oil and gas exploration and its extraction impact the environment, conducting research to develop methods for reducing said impact. These professionals are tasked with ensuring the safety of oil and gas operations by actively examining plans and procedures, inspecting pipelines for leaks, recognizing potential environmental risks and proposing solutions to minimize them.

The average annual salary for an environment manager in the U.S. was $137,600 per year in 2021.

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Best Paying Jobs in Oil & Gas Production Guide

A mammoth sector like oil and gas production typically rewards professionals with attractive salaries and packages. Even entry-level oil field jobs can pay salaries that more advanced jobs in other sectors cannot match. But to truly climb the ladder and reach the higher-paying oil and gas production job positions, a good understanding of the industry is necessary.

What is the oil and gas production industry?

The oil and gas production industry is responsible for extracting crude oil, natural gas and other petroleum products. This involves drilling wells and using advanced technology to extract the products from beneath the surface of the earth. This is an essential part of modern life as the demand for these resources continues to rise. Today, well over 88 million barrels of oil are used per day across the world.

Types of oil and gas production jobs

Many oil and gas production jobs can be divided into three main categories: drilling, completion and production. Drilling jobs involve operating machinery to dig wells in search of oil and natural gas. Completion roles consist of setting up the wellhead equipment for the oil or gas to be extracted properly. Finally, production roles involve monitoring the production of natural resources and ensuring that it is done safely and efficiently.

Requirements for an oil and gas production job

Given the many different oil and gas production jobs available, different roles have different requirements. Some oil field jobs require a degree in engineering or related fields. For those interested in oil rig jobs, completing an oil rig training program is necessary. Specialized certifications from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are also required for some oil and gas production roles. Other positions may not require formal education but could demand significant experience or skill sets. Check relevant job search sites to determine the requirements for each post.

How to find the highest-paying jobs in oil and gas production

How much you'll earn in an oil and gas production job varies greatly depending on several factors, such as experience level, location and complexity of the role. However, there are certain things you can do to increase your chances of landing higher-paying jobs in the industry.

Research the industry

Make sure to read up on the latest trends, technologies and regulations in the field. Include finding out how much a job pays as part of your research. This way, you can make sure you’re making the right career choices. Additionally, consider attending specific courses or seminars related to your chosen profession. Finding ways to network with professionals within the industry can provide you with valuable advice and insight into potential job opportunities.

Gain qualifications and certifications

As previously mentioned, many oil field jobs require specialized qualifications or certifications from OSHA. Take the time to get these certifications if you want to maximize your earnings potential.

Choose your location wisely

If you're looking for higher-paying roles, consider moving to an area with higher salaries. You could research oil and gas production job salaries in different cities or regions to find out which areas offer the best pay for offshore oil rig jobs, for instance.

Polish your resume

If it's been a while since you updated your resume, now is the time to do it. Make sure your resume reflects all of the qualifications and experience needed for a high-paying oil and gas production job. This is also the time to brush up on how to write a cover letter for a job.

Browse job sites

Resources like ZipRecruiter for oil and gas production roles that fit your qualifications. Highlight the roles that offer the highest salaries and take note of any companies or organizations you want to work with. Once you've identified a few positions that interest you, apply as soon as possible. Be sure to customize your resume and cover letter to each individual role to increase your chances of being considered.

Get professional help

If you're having trouble finding the right job or landing interviews, consider working with a recruitment agency. Recruiters understand the oil and gas production field and are experts at connecting professionals to relevant roles in the industry. The right recruiter may even be able to get you oil rig jobs with no experience.

You could also talk to a career coach. They can help with anything from teaching you how to prepare for an interview to giving advice on how to negotiate the best salary. If you’re leaving your current job for a new one, it’s likely your potential employers will want to know why. A career expert can help you prepare for such a situation. They know which reasons for leaving a job are most convincing to interviewers and can help you answer this question well.

With the help of a professional, you can maximize your earning potential and land a higher-paying oil and gas production job.

Best-Paying Jobs in Oil & Gas Production FAQ 

How many jobs are available in oil & gas production? 

The oil and gas industry supports 10.3 million jobs in America, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

How many oil and gas jobs have been lost? 

Since the pandemic started, the oil and gas industry has seen a significant downturn. In the U.S. alone, CNN asserts that 107,000 jobs were wiped out by the pandemic in 2020.

How do you get into oil rig jobs?  

The easiest way to get oil rig jobs is to have the relevant qualifications. Depending on the job you're applying for, this could include oil rig operational safety certification, oilfield welding qualifications or industrial safety training. More qualified individuals typically earn a higher oil rigs jobs salary.

Is a job in oil and gas a good career path? 

Yes. While the industry has been under pressure for some time now, oil and gas jobs remain well-paid positions that offer a long-term career path to those willing to invest in their professional development. Even if you're looking for oil field jobs with no experience, it's likely you'll find one that pays better than most careers.

How We Chose the Best-Paying Jobs in Oil & Gas Production

To arrive at our list of the best oil and gas production jobs, we considered median salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other reliable government or research sources. We also researched job growth outlooks, educational requirements, job availability, safety standards and other factors that can influence earning potential.

Summary of Money's Best-Paying Jobs in Oil & Gas Production