Rock comprises the majority of our planet. Structural geologists analyze this element of the Earth, investigating its structural elements, uncovering the past by studying the stratification of rock geometry and the dynamics of different rock structures as well as the substances contained within them, such as oil and minerals. They are geoscientists who seek to understand the structural evolution of a particular area through the pattern of its underlying rock formations. Salary levels for the occupation depend upon where and for whom a geologist works.
In May 2010 the Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed employment trends throughout the United States. It classified structural geologists alongside other geologists, as well as geoscientists such as crystallographers, mineralogists and volcanologists. It concluded that the average annual wage across the category was $93,380, equivalent to $44.89 an hour, $1,796 a week and $7,782 a month. Pay comparison website Indeed.com listed the average yearly wage for a structural geologist, at the time of writing, as $85,000.
Salary by Industry
Like other geoscientists, most structural geologists work within either architectural, engineering and related services or oil and gas extraction. The bureau listed the average annual wages within these sectors as $80,460 and $132,210, respectively. Geologists working as consultants earned an average of $73,990, a higher rate than that paid to individuals working for state government bodies -- $62,880 – but less than the amount paid to those employed by the federal executive branch -- $95,580.
Salary by Geography
SalaryExpert.com conducted a survey of salary levels for structural geologists based in certain large U.S. metropolitan areas. At the time of writing, it found that pay rates were highest in Texas, with Houston averaging $120,807 and Dallas listed at $96,169. This may be due to the large concentration of the oil industry in the state. New York and Chicago had comparable wage levels -- $60,278 and $59,999 – while Atlanta was reported just $51,075. The bureau listed Oklahoma as the most lucrative state for a geoscientist to work in, averaging $129,870. In contrast, Pennsylvania was reported at $67,860.
Across the geoscience field, which includes experts in geology, geography and hydrology, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the employment market to grow by around 18 percent over the decade from 2008 to 2018. This outstrips the growth rate expected of the whole country, which is not predicted to exceed 13 percent. Growing demand for environmental management and further exploration for oil and gas will motivate this growth, meaning salary levels for the professions, including for structural geologists, should remain very competitive.