New Generation of Industry Geologists Earning $80K to $110K

A new generation of oil industry geologists and engineers can expect to earn starting salaries of between $80,000 and $110,000 per year, reversing a trend from the 1990s when pay in the field was much lower.

But, as the older generation of oil industry engineers prepares to retire en masse, and with oil prices at record levels, new entrants into the field can expect generous compensation from day one.

Graduates of Texas A&M University's top-ranked petroleum-engineering department received an average starting salary of $78,000 last year, up 33 percent in four years.

Several students received signing bonuses exceeding $20,000, according to the university.

And salaries rose more this year. Texas Tech reports its 2008 graduating seniors will receive an average salary of $110,000, up 66 percent in four years.

Geologists also have seen their starting salaries rise. According to the American Geologic Institute, the average starting salary for a geologist fresh out of school in the current academic year is $81,300, up 48 percent in five years from $55,000 in 2003.