The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Well-Paying Jobs…Like Ours!

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 26, 2012

We like talking about our industry’s job-creating ability – how, with the right policies America’s oil and natural gas companies could create a million new jobs before the end of the decade.

Some industry opponents dismiss the assertion by deriding the number of wage positions supported by oil and gas activity. We don’t. Every job means a paycheck for an American who’s glad to have it, especially in this economy.

But guess what? Our industry supports well-paying jobs, too.’s list of high lifetime-earnings jobs is topped by two from oil and natural gas – petroleum engineer and landman/senior landman. says the typical earnings total for a petroleum engineer over a 45-year career is nearly $6.3 million. The average starting pay is more than $84,000, and at 20+ years the typical salary is $151,000. No. 2 on the list, a landman will earn $5.38 million over a 45-year career, Payscale notes. Starting pay averages $53,600, growing to $138,000 at 20+ years. Payscale lead analyst Katie Bardaro:

“This list is dominated by left-brained jobs that require analytical thinking. We are a tech-heavy, analytics-heavy society, so jobs that focus on those skills pay well.”

Especially jobs in fields that have a future – like oil and natural gas. Our industry literally fuels America’s economy now and will do so in the future according to government estimates. It’s an industry that’s going to be around.

So what other positions made Payscale’s Top 10? Glad you asked:

  • Software/senior software engineer ($4.36 million over 45 years)
  • Electrical/senior electrical engineer ($4.17 million)
  • Mechanical/senior mechanical engineer ($3.9 million)
  • Software/senior software developer ($3.83 million)
  • Financial analyst/senior financial analyst ($3.44 million)
  • Communications coordinator/manager ($3.32 million)
  • Marketing coordinator/manager ($3.31 million)
  • Certified public accountant ($3.2 million)

Guess what again? You can find virtually all of these positions in the oil and natural gas industry – from the people who’re pioneering “intelligent field” technologies to manage modern, global exploration and development to the folks who develop marketing campaigns – you know, like this one.

Granted, a number of these careers can be found on other paths. Yet the list illustrates the breadth of our industry, its need for workers in the future and the promising career-long opportunities that this industry provides.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.