Natural gas engineers deal with natural gas and petroleum products in rural and urban areas. The average salary for a natural gas engineer varies by geographic location and level of experience. Senior natural gas engineers working in areas where natural gas drilling is profitable earn more than junior natural gas engineers in areas where drilling is not permitted.
One of the reasons natural gas engineers earn comfortable salaries is the remote nature of the work. Natural gas engineers often travel to sparsely populated areas. In order to offset the sometimes rural accommodations available, natural gas engineers often have lucrative salaries, as well as signing bonuses and incentive plans.
Due to the technical nature of the work, natural gas engineers need a minimum of a bachelor's degree. This degree gives the engineer the chance to land an entry-level job. However, most natural gas engineers possess at least a master's degree. If the gas engineer goes into the academic field, he needs a Ph.D. In addition, natural gas engineers need to be able to express difficult concepts to laymen, especially as it relates to breaking down environmental impact from natural gas production. Gas engineers must possess the ability to focus on a problem and find solutions as quickly as possible. The entry-level salary for a natural gas engineer falls between $54,000 and $72,000, depending upon the educational level and the specific functions of the engineer. In addition, natural gas engineers with higher degrees are more valued by employers, due to the technical nature of the industry.
The working conditions for a natural gas engineer vary. If the natural gas engineer works in an office or a lab, his hours are typically nine-to-five during a normal workweek. On the other hand, if the engineer works out on a gas rig or pipeline, his hours will probably be much longer. Some companies pay extra for natural gas engineers working out in the field, as opposed to those working in a lab. Engineers working in the field usually earn more than engineers in an office environment. While a natural gas engineer working with extraction companies earns more than $130,000, a natural gas engineer working for the Environmental Protection Agency might earn significantly less, usually between $45,000 and $75,000, according to information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Wages for natural gas engineers vary throughout the country. For example, while engineers may earn an average of $67,000 nationally, engineers in Maine typically earn an average of $59,000 a year. On the other hand, engineers involved in oil and gas extraction, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earned an annual mean salary of more than $130,000. Geographic location is a financial factor when dealing with wages. For example, the annual mean wage for gas engineers and related occupations in the Dallas, Texas, area is $116,000 annually, while Los Angeles, California, only pays $80,000. Naturally, since Los Angeles does not have any gas drilling sites available, the need for the natural gas engineers is much lower.
- United States Department of Labor: Geoscientists and Hydrologists
- Michigan Jobs and Career Portal: #364 Petroleum Engineer
- Maine Labor: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Employment and Wages; May 2010
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Environmental Scientists and Specialists