Some Salaries Drop, But Some Hold Steady

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

It's no surprise to officially know the always-cyclical oil and gas industry currently is down - and for some companies, very down.

It may be surprising to know, however, that even in this season that is best described by one word - "gloomy" - there are some areas of the industry that are not only holding steady, but actually shows signs of being robust.

That's one of the findings of this year's annual AAPG salary survey, which showed that average salaries are down slightly this year for most - but not all - age groups.

The survey is one snapshot of the industry that started the year strong and then saw oil prices - and activity, and hiring, and in some cases, job security - drop dramatically.

Mike
Ayling
Mike Ayling

Taken in total, though, the 2014 survey "shows very little change in salaries" from the previous year, according to Mike Ayling, of MLA Resources in Tulsa, who has conducted the annual salary survey for AAPG since 1981.

"While these (age) groups remain in strong demand, perhaps lethargic overall hiring has taken a toll on average salaries," Ayling said.

For example, "beginning geologists saw an almost inappreciable drop in starting salaries," Ayling said. Indeed, the average salary for those with two years experience or less was $102,900 in 2014, down from the previous year's $103,400.

"Geoscientists with 10-14 years experience had the largest gains - about 12 percent, perhaps reflecting an adjustment from last year when they saw little change," he said.

But that wasn't the case for those with 25-plus years of experience, a group that saw "a major drop" of 9 percent, Ayling said, "perhaps reflecting industry retirements.

"Geologists who have some experience - those in the 10- to-19-year category, are making pretty good salaries," he said, "probably because there are so few of them."

The AAPG annual survey is based on U.S. salaries only, which are still considered the industry's "gold standard." 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.

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

Ayling said his survey is based on employed, salaried geoscientists and cannot account for unemployed or underemployed individuals. Nor can these numbers take into account the compensation of individuals who are primarily paid in the form of consulting fees, retainers or overrides.

No attempt has been made to include any additional sums to account for employee benefits, bonuses, automobiles or other perquisites. The purpose of this survey is merely to provide a yardstick for those interested in accessing their compensation.

Ayling feels strongly that "compensation is often a secondary consideration when evaluating overall job satisfaction."


2014 Geological Salary Survey
YEARS EXPER HIGH AVERAGE LOW
0-2 $ 117,300 $ 102,900 $ 87,000
3-5 140,000 114,900 9;98,000
6-9 163,200 148,300 135,000
10-14 207,000 165,600 132,000
15-19 206,000 189,000 155,000
20-24 315,000 234,300 185,400
25+ 425,000 229,900 185,000

Average Salary By Degree
YEARS EXPER B.S. M.S. Ph.D.
0-2 $ 92,000 $ 104,400 $ 117,300
3-5 89,000 109,100 140,000
6-9 n/a 143,000 155,300
10-14 160,000 150,000 178,900
15-19 n/a 200,300 155,000
20-24 198,900 250,200 238,000
25+ 209,000 221,600 248,000

Historical Averages Salary
YEARS EXPER 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
0-2 $82,200 $82,800 $83,600 $87,600 $93,000 $98,700 $100,500 $103,400 $102,900
3-5 89,600 107,800 108,000 105,600 102,300 109,400 101,000 114,500 114,900
6- 9 98,500 121,100 118,400 121,700 127,800 137,300 127,800 145,400 148,300
10-14 111,500 119,800 121,900 123,500 139,100 153,400 147,000 147,500 165,600
15-19 141,000 151,600 139,400 150,800 151,000 193,600 190,300 179,200 189,000
20-24 155,000 167,400 176,800 180,300 191,000 199,200 211,600 219,500 234,300
25+ 149,900 162,800 171,700 186,800 206,300 199,600 212,000 252,600 229,900

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