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How Much Income Do Oilfield Roughnecks Earn
© 2013 by Aurelio Locsin.
The messy, dirty business of cleaning oil-drilling equipment so that the oil keeps flowing falls to oilfield roughnecks, also known as roustabouts. They also repair oilfield equipment, move pipes from trucks using winches and lifts, and guide cranes to move heavy loads. The job offers an income to those without a high-school diploma but who are in good physical condition.
Oilfield roughnecks earned a mean $35,800 per year, as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- The lowest-paid 10 percent made less than $22,720 yearly, while the best earners received over $52,720 annually.
- They made less than the averages for all construction and extraction occupations, which ran $44,960 per year, and less than the mean $45,790 received by the average U.S. worker.
- To earn these amounts, roughnecks typically work shifts that last eight or 12 hours, and schedules that may run for seven or 14 days, with an equal number of days off.
With its many oilfields, Texas reigned as the state with the most roughneck jobs, hiring 23,630 of the total 59,320 workers, and paying a mean $32,650 per year.
- Oklahoma was next, with 4,710 positions at a mean $33,700 yearly, followed by Louisiana, with 4,660 roughnecks earning a mean annual $34,680.
- The states with the highest pay were Alaska, at a mean $53,030 per year, Montana, at a mean $47,770 yearly, and North Dakota, at a mean annual $46,140.
- In rural areas, Northwestern Texas showed the most positions, with 4,450 workers earning a mean $30,750 per year.
- The highest pay was in rural Southwest Alaska at a mean $52,360 yearly.
The type of employers determined the job opportunities and salaries available to oilfield roughnecks.
- The biggest employers were support activities for mining, which offered oil-drilling services on a contract basis. They hired 45,270 and paid a mean $36,050 per year.
- Oil and gas extraction was next with 8,260 roughnecks averaging $36,250 yearly, followed by utility system construction, with 3,100 workers making a mean annual $31,270.
- Ranking first for pay was natural gas distribution at a mean $41,180 per year, followed by industrial machinery rental and leasing at a mean $39,540 yearly.
Jobs for oilfield roughnecks are expected to increase by 8 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is the same percentage growth predicted for all oil and gas workers, but less than the 14 percent projected for all occupations in all industries. Higher prices for oil are prompting many companies to drill in deeper waters and formerly inaccessible environments, which increases demand for workers. However, new technologies can lessen opportunities because it allows fewer drill sites to produce more oil. They also make fewer roughnecks more productive in doing the tasks of many workers.
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- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.