Most petroleum technologists are employed in the oil and gas industry, and use their skills in engineering, geology and chemistry to locate and develop sources of oil and gas and to design and build drilling platforms, refineries and pipelines. Petroleum technologists work in a very wealthy industry and most of them are well paid.
Most petroleum technologists earn between $54,000 and $77,000 per year as of 2010, according to the website Pay Scale. Alberta Occupational Profiles reports an average of $31.97 an hour, or $64,000 per year for a full time employee. Annual bonuses may boost this income by as much as 10 to 15 percent. Most full time petroleum technologists who are employed by companies also receive benefits such as medical and dental care and paid vacations.
Petroleum technologists may work in a number of different areas within the field. Workers with widely divergent specialties, such as chemists, geologists and physicists, may all be referred to as petroleum technologists. Oil exploration involves analysis of land forms and the composition of rock strata to determine the location of oil fields. Once oil has been located, exploratory rigs are built followed by drilling platforms. Support development includes roads, power lines, pipelines and sometimes airfields or helicopter pads. The development of all of these things requires a wide variety of expertise from petroleum technologists.
Factors Influencing Salary
As in most industries, a petroleum technologist's salary increases as she spends more time in the industry and gains more skills and experience. Beginning technologists with more extensive educations begin at higher rates of pay, and the company that a technologist works for will also effect income levels. Many technologists receive bonuses or increased pay for working in remote or difficult locations.
The future of the oil industry is a subject of much debate in some circles. Many analysts claim that the worldwide oil industry is approaching the same peak of production that the United States passed at a national level in 1971. Should this be the case, the effect that it will have on petroleum technologists is difficult to predict, but will probably not be beneficial to salary levels. Decreased availability of petroleum may lead to layoffs in the industry, which would lead to lower average salaries because of employment competition.