Are Oilfield Jobs Worth Big Paychecks?
While you may have heard that oilfield jobs can be lucrative (yes we know this, Captain Obvious), it bears repeating that these types of jobs pay well because they require long hours and dedication. Those who bring home the largest paychecks are also working the longest hours, willing to relocate, and are also willing to get the certifications and training necessary to gain the higher paying gigs. Most of you know this already. But some of you who are coming from corporate offices, union shops, college campuses, and retail environments need to be aware of the realities of the oilfields. These questions may have crossed your mind while you look for a fracking job:
- Can I make good money without working overtime? Well, sorry…but probably not. Unless you are working in a position that might be considered professional, managerial, or technical, you will make the real money in the oilfields when you start racking up overtime pay (beyond 40 hours per week) which is equal to time-and-a-half pay. If you aren’t willing or able to work beyond 40 hours per week, stay away from the oilfields. 60 or 70 hour workweeks are the norm, not the exception. This is why you’re hearing stories about folks making six figures per year. The pay is good, to be sure, but those paychecks are supercharged with lots of overtime hours.
- How can anyone make six figures per year working an hourly gig? Do the math. Assume you can earn $22 per hour, which you probably won’t get if you are new to oilfield work, but is very possible if you have two years’ experience or more. $22 x 40 = $880. Time and a half means that $22 becomes $33 per hour. You might work, say, 70 hours each week. So you’ll earn $880 from your first 40 hours, plus $990 from your overtime hours. $880 + $990 = $1,870. $1,870 x 52 (weeks in the year) = $97,240. Now, let’s add a couple of beers to the equation, since you are most likely to hear the “I made six figures last year” stories from your buddy’s cousin who just returned from North Dakota a few weeks ago. The realistic $97k per year might become, oh…$120k, $130k…you get the idea. People (men) tend to exaggerate two things on a consistent basis: how much they make, and how much bedroom activity they participate in. At any rate, that original $97k is pretty darn close to six figures. But remember: that’s based on seventy hours of paid work time per week, or ten hours of work for every single one of the 365 days that exist in a year. It’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. But maybe it’s for you, if only for a brief period in your life.
- Is it worth it to go to college before entering the oil and gas industry? There is incredible money to be made in the petroleum industry as an hourly employee. But we would be remiss to omit the fact that degreed professionals in the industry are some of the highest paid employees in any industry, period. Petroleum engineers, geologists, mudloggers, and those who deal with securing mineral and land rights for oil and gas exploration are very highly paid. However, these professionals require 4-year college degrees and in some cases master’s degrees or even doctorate degrees. Do not go to college and incur a mountain of debt for a career that you either aren’t sure you want or simply aren’t prepared for. On the other hand, getting a degree for certain oil and gas industry careers may very well justify any debt that you add to your personal bottom line. Go to college with your eyes wide open, and do your research in advance.
Getting a fracking job is not a “get rich quick” proposition, but you’ll earn more money much more quickly in the oilfields vs. what you’ll earn in most other industries. Whether you pursue hourly or degreed petroleum career paths, ultimately the amount you make is up to you. Check out these fracking companies to find out which of them are hiring CDL drivers, engineers, or entry-level oilfield workers. Then, look for hourly and professional fracking jobs here.