What are the best paying jobs in energy? What do energy jobs pay? Is the energy industry a good place to start a career?
What Do Energy Jobs Pay?
These questions get searched for constantly as people make this big decision – should I start a career in energy?
Of course, there’s a short answer to this question and a long answer. We’ll try to offer a bit of both.
After all, there is some black and white data – the raw numbers. But salary alone isn’t the only factor that goes into pursuing a job or a career.
As you’ll learn below, you can’t really go wrong with a career in energy from a pay standpoint.
Key Takeaways on Pay in Energy:
- “In general, energy sector employees earn higher hourly wages (34% premium) compared to the national median; this is true across all energy technology segments and nearly all energy industry segments.” (USEER)
- “Median hourly wage for all energy workers in the US is $26.50 – 34% higher thank the national hourly wage of $19.14.” (USEER)
- “Nuclear, electric power transmission and distribution, natural gas, and coal industries support highest wage premiums compared to national median.” (USEER)
- “Lowest premiums come from energy storage, energy efficiency, solar and wind – however are still significantly higher than national hourly wages.” (USEER)
- “The Oil & Gas sector is still the owner of the biggest salaries. However, Renewables promise a more exciting growth — the Renewable energy sector has on its side the industry trends and the public subsidies.” (Airswift)
- Oil and gas have highest average salaries at $94,000 with power and renewables around $80,000. (GETI)
Subsector Summary (USEER) – Wage Premium Over National Median
66% – Electric power transmission and distribution wage premium (9.9% of all energy jobs)
105% – Nuclear industry wage premium (just .8% of all energy jobs)
59% – Natural gas industry wage premium (7.6% of all energy jobs)
27% – Energy storage wage premium (1.0% of all energy jobs)
50% – Coal premium (2.2% of all energy jobs, only shrinking sector)
So, just by going into energy you’re giving yourself a leg up on pay.
Of course, there is more to the story and averages need to be dissected. And we’ll get a bit more granular both between various energy sectors and within them.
Best Paying Jobs in Energy – The Short Answer
If you’re wondering where the best paying jobs in energy are, the short answer is that they are in oil and gas.
Average salaries are higher in oil and gas than other segments of the energy industry.
There are some caveats to this, as you might have expected. As they say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
And that’s where we get into the long answer below.
First, we take a look at pay in the energy industry in general, versus averages across the entire economy. Then we’ll break down the energy industry into sectors.
As you probably expect, there is variation both across and within the various sectors, and plenty of opportunity across the board as well!
Some credit is due. We didn’t do this research, but we are trying to pull together data and insight from various sources to make life easier for you.
As you’ll see, there is both hard data and nuance. And of course, it’s your career so there’s often more at stake than just salary – interest, education, geography, fulfillment – some of these things are hard to quantify.
This average salary data was sourced from the Global Energy Talent Index Report (2022) that is put out by Airswift and Energyjoblline.
While we summarize the top salaries in each segment of the energy industry here (after all, you likely searched for ‘best paying jobs in energy’ to find this article), there is so much more in this report.
And as you may be starting to notice, there’s a lot more to finding the right job in energy for you than just the top-line salary number.
We can’t recommend it strongly enough to read through the complete GETI report, which you can download here. It’s a great resource to aid in your career decision.
Oil and Gas
- Drilling Supervisor – $172,334
- Reservoir Engineer – $115,337
- Process Engineer – $112,897
- Instrumentation Engineer – $111,028
- Construction Manager – $107,140
- Construction Manager – $98,000
- Biomass Engineer – $91,000
- Project Manager – $88,200
- Project Engineer – $87,500
- Operations Manager / QA,QC Manager – $86,800
- Construction Manager – $105,000
- Project Manager – $98,000
- HSE Manager – $98,000
- Commercial Manager – $95,734
- Commissioning Manager, Instrumentation Engineer, QA/QC Manager – $91,000
- Project Manager – $119,000
- HSE Manager – $119,000
- Commissioning Manager – $112,000
- Nuclear Engineer – $112,000
- Facilities Manager – $107,800
Best Paying Jobs in Energy – The Long Answer
Is the Sector Growing?
The answer to this question is almost universally ‘Yes’.
Coal is the only subsector of the energy industry that is shrinking.
Where Are The Jobs?
Energy Efficiency Jobs Are Everywhere
99.8% – US counties with energy efficiency jobs – grew in almost every state b/t 2016-2019
Headwinds or Tailwinds?
“Many younger workers are avoiding careers in oil and gas – some on ethical and environmental reasons and others because it is seen as an industry without a long term future – making recruiting new talent more challenging.”
+Think it’s bad now? Talent crunch in oil and gas will worsen – Oil and Gas IQ
This, of course, is not new.
We wrote an article about the skills gap in oil and gas on our blog in 2012. And that was obviously well before the investment in renewables and a global energy transition really took off.
“The Oil & Gas sector is still the owner of the biggest salaries. However, Renewables promise a more exciting growth — the Renewable energy sector has on its side the industry trends and the public subsidies.”
+Is energy a good career path? – Airswift
Energy Jobs are Technology Jobs
“Today’s energy career is a technology career (and vice versa). Both areas seem to be the best combination for those who want to build a professional journey with purpose and disruptive innovation.”
+Is energy a good career path? – Airswift
We are seeing the energy industry undergo a digital transformation. Companies are creating solutions through their efforts in digital design, data analysis and automation.
We are actively recruiting cybersecurity engineers, application architects, software engineers, analysts, cloud engineers and agile and traditional project delivery roles.
This job page from DTE, a Detroit-based energy company with over 10,000 employees in both utility and non-utility subsidiaries, shows the diversity of tech skills in demand from energy companies.
We [DTE] hire IT personnel with the following expertise:
- Software development
- Cloud engineering and administration
- Agile and traditional project delivery
- Site reliability engineering
- Networks and firewalls
- Data analytics and business intelligence
- Enterprise software including IBM Maximo, Salesforce, SAP and ServiceNow
Utility jobs example p35/50
the utility is increasingly looking for workers with broad engineering capabilities, who can understand complex systems and integrate software and hardware systems. Analytical and digital skillsets are also growing in importance. This increased need for highly technical workers will bring higher and higher wages, as firms compete for top talent. Just like the big technology firms, “we’re looking for the best and brightest as well” Mr. Treichler says.
What’s Changed – Ukraine and IRA
While a some of the reports here are recent enough to factor in the effects of the pandemic and the subsequent rebound in the economy, most were published before two major events that will affect the global energy economy for decades to come – the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the US Inflation Reduction Act.
Spiking Energy Prices and an Accelerated Energy Transition
The second mistaken idea is that the global energy crisis is a clean energy crisis. Dr Birol says energy policy makers don’t complain to him about relying too much on clean energy. On the contrary, they regret not having moved faster on solar, wind and energy efficiency.
Accelerating the Energy Transition
Before the invasion, global capital expenditure (CAPEX) investments were forecast to grow in 2022 by 7% in oil and 14% in gas/LNG and up to 18% within the shale E&P segment.34 Upstream capital expenditures in North America were expected to grow by at least 20%.35
What’s Ahead – IEA World Energy Outlook 2022
Clean energy becomes a huge opportunity for growth and jobs, and a major arena for international economic competition. By 2030, thanks in large part to the US Inflation Reduction Act, annual solar and wind capacity additions in the United States grow two-and-a-half-times over today’s levels, while electric car sales are seven times larger.
Annual US Energy and Employment Report
National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), The Energy Futures Initiative, BW Research Partnership
Data from the 2020 USEER (5 year report) and 2018, 2019 annual supplemental wage surveys
+The wage report 2021 – USenergyjobs.org
“At end of 2019, the five major energy technology sectors – electric power generation; fuels; transmission, distribution, storage; energy efficiency; motor vehicles – employed more than 8.27 million workers or 5.4% of all jobs in the US.”
Between 2015 and 2019, these sectors created about 915,000 jobs, almost 11% of all employment growth in the nation, almost twice the rate of the overall economy
Median hourly wage for all energy workers in the US is $26.50 – 34% higher thank the national hourly wage of $19.14.
Wages for all energy industry crosscuts are higher than national wages, ranging from a premium of 27% to 105% above national median wages.
Few energy jobs pay below the national median
Energy sector lost fewer jobs during the pandemic compared to other sectors
Over last two decades, US energy production trended away from coal and towards natural gas, petroleum, renewables. – Petroleum and natural gas fuels employment grew by almost 9%; solar and wind power generation employment grew by 22%
Shifts in fuel sources and energy technologies are creating new geographic concentrations of energy jobs across nation.
Energy efficiency jobs are unique in that they are ubiquitous across the US
Energy workers are more likely to receive healthcare and retirement benefits compared to national averages
$41.08 – Median wage for energy utility employees, the highest of all industry segments and 115% above national median. Mining and extraction jobs next highest at $36.32. Utilities account for 7.2% of total energy employment.
Utilities industry supports highest hourly wage of all industries compared to national median. Electric power generation and transmission, distribution, and storage are the only sectors with utilities jobs.
43% premium for an energy worker in the mining industry compared to average mining employee. Premiums in wholesale trade (29%) and repair and maintenance 21%). Mining accounts for 6.4% of total energy employment.
42% electric power generation sector wage premium over national median. 10.7% of all energy jobs
63% transmission, distribution, storage sector wage premium. 16.5% of total energy jobs
Of 41 energy occupations across all major energy tech sectors, nearly all report above average provision of healthcare benefits.
Energy Jobs – Renewables
Jobs In Renewables
+IRENA Global Renewables Outlook – IRENA
Jobs in renewables would reach 42 million globally by 2050, four times their current level, through the increased focus of investments on renewables. Energy efficiency measures would create 21 million and system flexibility 15 million additional jobs.
The Inflation Reduction Act Effect on Energy Jobs
Create jobs and economic growth concentrated in clean energy. Analysis by AFL-CIO’s Labor Energy Partnership found the bill will add nearly 1.5 million jobs, and increase per capita personal income by nearly $4,000, all while transforming our economy to meet the climate crisis.
The Labor Energy Partnership, a joint project of the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the AFL-CIO, has analyzed the Inflation Reduction Act and concluded that it would add nearly 1.5 million jobs and $250 billion to the economy by 2030, increase per capita personal income by several thousand dollars, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 40%, and decrease overall energy use through energy efficiency and innovation.
The transition to a clean energy economy is an enormous once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvest in America’s workers and foster thriving communities. Building a clean manufacturing sector that doesn’t pollute our air or water can also provide good-paying jobs that serve as onramps to the middle class.
The IRA invests a record $50 billion into building a 21st century U.S. clean energy manufacturing sector and supply chain, creating high-quality jobs for a whole new generation of Americans and ensuring competitiveness in the exploding clean tech global market.
Few pieces of legislation this century have come close to such sweeping potential for good job creation.
A new analysis commissioned by the BlueGreen Alliance from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst finds that the more than 100 climate, energy, and environmental investments in the Inflation Reduction Act will create more than 9 million good jobs over the next decade—an average of nearly 1 million jobs each year.
Clean energy – 5mm
Clean manufacturing – 900k
Clean transportation – 400k
Efficient buildings 900k
Environmental justice – 150k
Natural infrastructure – 600k