Work force continues to ‘mature’

GeoSalaries Rise Almost 8 Percent

Mike Ayling
Mike Ayling

As crude prices came out of the doldrums in 2010-11, so have the pay hikes for petroleum geologists.

Over the past year, salaries for petroleum geologists for the year showed a weighted average increase of 7.9 percent, according to the annual AAPG Salary Survey.

This compares with a 5 percent overall increase in 2009-10 and a 2 percent increase the previous year.

Mike Ayling, of MLA Resources, who has conducted the annual salary survey for AAPG since 1981, said the largest pay increases came in the “high demand” groups with 10-14 and 25-plus years experience, with increases between 10 and 12 percent.

“These demographic groups entered the work force at times when demand for geologists was not as high (mid-1980s and mid-1990s) – but now they are at the point in their careers where they can be key players,” Ayling said. “And, they are getting paid for it because the companies are wanting to keep them.”

The industry has a two-generation history of hiring and paying a premium for new talent in the good times – and during bad times, not so much. This has given the industry curious gaps in the age and experience levels in the work force.

In fact, Ayling noted that nearly 44 percent of the respondents to the 2010-11 AAPG survey had over 25 years experience, indicating the extent of the aging of the work force.

Ayling continued there are other factors at work with the numbers, including reluctance on the part of smaller and mid-size companies to staff-up at the entry levels, “because they can’t spare the mature geologist the time to mentor the new geologist.”

Also, at the senior levels, there is not much movement from job-to-job due to “golden handcuffs” of accruing bonuses and retirement programs – as well as uncertainties in the economy causing individuals to be hesitant to make a move.

Ayling also noted the economic insecurity has caused companies to be slow in their hiring decisions.

The survey found that the 0-2 year experience levels showed a small increase, up 6.2 percent, but recently graduated bachelor level geologists had a difficult time finding work – and the few that did worked for lower salaries, depressing the overall average.

The 3-5 year and 15-19 year geologist groups showed little change, but these groups contained few individuals, Ayling said.

The 6-9 year and 20-24 year groups had between a 5 and 6 percent increase.

Ayling also noted the number of people in the demographic age groups can have a big bearing on both the marketplace and the salaries they are paid due to the supply and demand for their level of experience and expertise.

The annual salary survey is based on employed, salaried geoscientists and is based on salaries alone. It does not include bonuses, employee benefits, autos or other perquisites.

It does not attempt to include anyone whose compensation is in the form of consulting fees, retainers or overrides.

The survey also is based on U.S. salaries only, considered the “gold standard” for the industry. The measurement for international salaries for explorationists is virtually on a country-by-country, case-by-case basis, Ayling said, which makes statistical averaging non-productive beyond the boundaries of any specific country.

Ayling added that many ex-pats are paid U.S.-based salaries, while the national oil companies opt to pay compatriots on a different, lower scale.

2010 Geological Salary Survey
Years
Exper 
High Average Low
0-2 $110,800 $ 93,000 $ 60,000
3-5  122,900  102,300    90,000
6-9  180,000   127,800  100,000
10-14  195,000  139,100  109,000
15-19  215,000  151,100  120,000
20-24  270,000  191,000  135,000
25  600,000  206,300  148,000
Average Salary By Degree
Years
Exper
B.S. M.S. Ph.D.
0-2 $ 74,000 $ 96,000 $107,500
3-5   90,000   95,000  122,000
6-9  112,900  114,000  157,500
10-14  113,500 149,900  137,800
15-19  121,000  157,200  -------
20-24  162,900  183,300  270,000
25  194,000  224,100  206,300
Historical Averages Salary
Years
Exper 
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
0-2 $ 65,000 $ 65,600 $ 67,800 $ 74,400 $ 82,200 $ 82,800 $ 83,600 $ 87,600 $ 93,000
3-5   71,200   67,700   75,600   81,300   89,600  107,800  108,000  105,600  102,300
6-9   78,300   75,500   78,800   95,400   98,500  121,100  118,400  121,700  127,800
10-14   96,600   91,900  107,500  114,400  111,500  119,800  121,900  23,500  139,100
15-19  102,500  102,500  116,000  119,600  141,000  151,600  139,400  150,800  151,000
20-24  113,900  118,100  112,800  139,000  155,000  167,400  176,800  180,300  191,000
25+  126,900  125,100  128,300  134,100  149,900  162,800  171,700  186,800  206,300

 


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