Salaries Rise - And Experience Really Pays

Mike Ayling
Mike Ayling

Salaries for petroleum geologists showed an overall increase during the past year – in some categories, significantly so – but not all tasted the raise.

This year’s annual AAPG salary survey shows a weighted average increase of 8.8 percent in geoscience salaries.

Mike Ayling, of MLA Resources in Tulsa, who has conducted the annual salary survey for AAPG since 1981, quickly pointed out – just like last year’s results – that some age and experience groups within the survey did much better than the overall average.

Some groups were dramatically less than the average.

At the top end of increases were the salaries for geologists in the “very experienced” (20-plus years) category, where a 19.5 percent increase was reported.

“People with a lot of experience are highly valued right now,” Ayling said.

Ayling also suggested other possible reasons for the apparent salary increase anomaly.

“Perhaps (it is) reflecting the value placed on their ability to contribute during a slack time of industry growth,” Ayling said.

Other possibilities: It reflects the industry’s “desire to retain experienced staff, and a bit to make up for lower increases in the past.

“They can do the job ‘now,’ and everybody needs the job done ‘now,’” Ayling continued. “They don’t have to be trained – and companies are not worried about them retiring.”

The 0-2 year experience levels showed a small increase – up 3 percent, according to the results – 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,” Ayling commented.

“Mid-experienced geoscientists (from 10 to 19 years experience) actually saw little change reflecting considerable salary growth the past years,” he noted. “While these groups remain in strong demand, perhaps lethargic overall hiring has taken a toll on average salaries.”

If there was a demographic dynamic that could be discerned from this year’s findings, it may be that many older geologists are now moving into management – a possible indication that the anticipated industry “crew change” may be coming closer.

Ayling referenced many indications of pending retirements.

“I don’t know where they’re (replacements) going to come from,” he said. “I suspect people are going to retire and then go to work for someone else on a part-time or consulting basis.”

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 the large number of 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.”

2013 Geological Salary Survey
YEARS EXPER HIGH AVERAGE LOW
0-2 $ 115,000 $ 103,400 $ 95,000
3-5 140,000 104,500 101,000
6-9 160,000 145,400 134,000
10-14 207,000 147,600 115,000
15-19 278,000 179,200 144,400
20-24 285,000 219,500 160,100
25+ 425,000 252,600 180,000
Average Salary By Degree
YEARS EXPER B.S. M.S. Ph.D.
0-2 $ 96,000 $ 103,800 $ 115,000
3-5   106,000 140,000
6-9 134,000 144,300 160,000
10-14 130,000 138,300 178,900
15-19 170,000 202,000 149,700
20-24 195,900 222,500 238,000
25+ 219,800 275,500  
Historical Averages Salary
YEARS EXPER 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
0-2 $74,400 $ 82,200 $ 82,800 $ 83,600 $ 87,600 $ 93,000 $ 98,700 $ 100,500 $ 103,400
3-5 81,300 89,600 107,800 108,000 105,600 102,300 109,400 101,000 114,500
6-9 95,400 98,500 121,100 118,400 121,700 127,800 137,300 127,800 145,400
10-14 114,400 111,500 119,800 121,900 123,500 139,100 153,400 147,000 147,500
15-19 119,600 141,000 151,600 139,400 150,800 151,000 193,600 190,300 179,200
20-24 139,000 155,000 167,400 176,800 180,300 191,000 199,200 211,600 219,500
25+ 134,100 149,900 162,800 171,700 186,800 206,300 199,600 212,000 252,600

Comments (0)

 

What Can I Do?

Add Item

Enter Notes:
 
* You must be logged in to name and customize your collection.
Recommend Recommend
Printable Version Printable Version Email to a friend Email to a friend