Oil & Gas

Published: Sep 09, 2022 | Updated at: Apr 02, 2024

Are you a resume nerd looking for the highest paying jobs in West Texas’s oil fields? From Drilling Consultants to Petroleum Engineers, we spotlight the exact roles topping the pay scale and their expected salaries—no fluff, just the facts you need.

Key Takeaways

  • The top five high-paying roles in the West Texas oil industry are physically demanding, require specific skills and experience, and include positions like Drilling Consultant, Landman, Petroleum Engineer, Mud Engineer, and Pipeline Welder.

  • These roles offer substantial financial rewards, reflecting their significance and the level of expertise required for efficient and safe operations in the oil extraction process.

  • Despite the attractive salaries, the challenges of working in remote locations with demanding work cultures and conditions make it crucial for workers to be committed and willing to endure the harsh environment of the West Texas oil patch.

Kew Takeaways

While the West Texas oil industry is known for its excellent pay, it’s also notorious for being physically challenging, dirty, and hazardous. Its remote location and the fear of job instability have made it challenging to attract potential workers. Employers in this industry often seek candidates with existing skills and experience, making it difficult for newcomers to break into the field.

Moreover, the Texas oil industry’s work culture can be demanding, with living conditions not always being ideal for everyone, especially in oil based job positions. However, for those willing to undertake hard labor for extended hours, employment opportunities are plentiful.

What is West Texas Hype all about?

West Texas Oil Patch illustration

The so-called “West Texas Hype” stems from the oil boom, which dramatically reshaped Texas’s economy and society in the early 20th century. This phenomenon has seen a surge in job opportunities and economic growth, making the region a promising destination for those willing to embrace the challenges of the oil and gas industry.

1) Drilling Consultant

Drilling Consultants are key players in the oil industry. With their vast experience and specialized knowledge, these professionals play a pivotal role in ensuring the efficiency and safety of drilling operations.

Job Description

True to their title, Drilling Consultants coordinate with rig crews to facilitate efficient and safe drilling operations. This role requires extensive experience, with aspiring consultants typically needing over 10 years in the industry, including around five years as an engineer.

Drilling Consultants usually:

  • Manage rig and third-party contractor personnel

  • Track costs

  • Prepare daily reports

  • Coordinate with engineering and purchasing departments

  • Make recommendations to optimize field operations

  • Foster effective communication and teamwork between office staff and field personnel.

This job requires a strong safety commitment, understanding of regulations, and proficiency in using industry-specific software for reporting. However, for those who excel in their role, there are plenty of opportunities for career advancement, including positions as a drilling supervisor or shore-based superintendent.

Job Pay

The yearly salary for a job as a Drilling Consultant is typically around $192,000 - $360,000 per year.

2) Landman

The Landman is another high-paying job in the West Texas oil patch. Acting as the public face for energy companies, Landmen secure exploration and development agreements directly with property owners.

Job Description

The core responsibilities of a Landman encompass a wide array of tasks, including:

They engage in thorough deed and historical record research to identify mineral owners for lease agreements, and negotiate oil and gas leases with customers, which often include varying upfront payments and royalty provisions within the main categories of these agreements.

The roles of a Landman can vary, with positions including in-house company landmen, independent field landmen, and independent land consultants. Regardless of the specific role, Landmen are expected to adhere to ethical standards and practices as outlined by the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL).

The job requires in-depth knowledge of fluid systems, safety protocols, environmental regulations, and the ability to create detailed mud logs. It demands strong analytical skills, proficiency in various scientific disciplines, and the ability to work under pressure in a fast-paced environment.

Job Pay

The yearly salary of a job as a Petroleum Landman is in the range of $50,000 - $320,000 per year. On top of the salary are also commissions on the deals that a landman brings to the company or equity percentage in the fund the company is managing. Bonuses can also include oil and gas royalties from leasehold production in the form of a royalty interest.

3) Petroleum Engineer

West Texas oil industry heavily relies on the integral role of Petroleum Engineers. These professionals are responsible for creating and implementing methods to extract oil and gas from subterranean deposits.

Job Description

Petroleum engineer at work illustration

Petroleum Engineers typically:

  • Work in office settings or on drilling and well sites

  • Often required to travel to different locations

  • Devise methods to enhance oil and gas extraction and production

  • Design new or revised tools

These engineers play a critical role in:

  • Overseeing drilling operations

  • Providing technical advice, including assessing costs and estimating production capabilities of oil and gas wells to determine the viability of potential drilling sites

  • Creating plans for oil and gas field drilling

  • Overseeing the recovery and treatment of products

Apart from their technical duties, Petroleum Engineers also manage environmental control measures to mitigate the impact of oil and gas operations. They are expected to develop and test equipment or processes based on their findings.

Job Pay

The yearly salary for a Petroleum Engineer ranges between $120,000 - $210,000 per year.

4) Mud Engineer

Mud Engineers, also known as Drilling Fluid Engineers, are responsible for ensuring that the properties of drilling fluids, or mud, meet design and operational specifications.

Job Description

Mud engineer performing fluid testing illustration

Mud Engineers have several core duties, including:

  • Designing and constructing drilling fluids used to lubricate, cool, and remove debris around the drill bit within the wellbore

  • Mixing and testing drilling fluids

  • Managing drilling fluids throughout the drilling process

These responsibilities are crucial for ensuring the smooth and efficient drilling of wells, as they involve the correct management of various components.

These engineers collaborate with geologists to:

  • Use geological information for creating and suggesting the appropriate water based drilling fluids to achieve planned well objectives

  • Play a role in optimizing the use of drilling fluid mud cleaning systems

  • Recommend treatments for drilling fluids with various reagents

Mud Engineers are also tasked with ensuring drilling fluid parameters are in line with work plans and that the system’s properties are maintained optimally. This role requires a strong analytical mind, technical expertise, and the ability to work under high-pressure situations.

Job Pay

The yearly salary for a Mud Engineer or Drilling Fluid Technician is $88,000-$120,000 per year.

5) CDL Truck Driver

Across the vast expanses of West Texas, CDL Truck Drivers are critical to the oil and gas industry’s operations. These drivers transport necessary goods and materials to and from the oil fields.

Job Description

CDL Truck Drivers are responsible for:

  • The safe and timely transport of goods and materials to and from oil fields

  • Adhering to all traffic laws and following set routes determined by the dispatching team

  • Proficiency in operating their vehicle, which includes not just driving but also loading and unloading goods, inspecting their vehicles before and after trips, and performing basic maintenance tasks

  • Logging their travel and rest periods to stay within the legal limits

  • Communicating with dispatchers and other team members

  • Maintaining a professional demeanor with clients

  • Handling paperwork like delivery confirmations and logbooks.

Job Pay

Due to the lack of interest in the position, the demand for CDL truck drivers in West Texas is high and the pay can range from $60,000 - $180,000 per year.

6) Pipeline Welders

Pipeline welders are crucial to the construction and maintaining of the extensive pipelines network transporting oil and natural gas across West Texas.

Job Description

Pipeline welder at work illustration

Pipeline Welders are responsible for:

  • Joining and repairing pipes for oil and gas conveyance

  • Being proficient in various welding techniques

  • Being familiar with the safety procedures and regulations that govern their work

  • Being able to read and interpret blueprints and specifications

  • Performing calculations to determine the dimensions of welds

  • Inspecting structures or materials to be welded

  • Setting up and maintaining their welding equipment.

Pipeline Welders often work in challenging conditions and need to have the following skills and qualities:

  • Physical fitness

  • Good manual dexterity

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Ability to work independently with minimal supervision

Job Pay

Pipeline Welder's salary can range between $72,000 - $145,000

Conclusion

While the West Texas oil industry poses challenges and demands, it offers substantial financial rewards, particularly for those in the top five highest paying roles. However, these roles require not only technical skills and experience but also a willingness to work in a challenging environment and often demanding conditions.

For those who can rise to the challenge, the West Texas oil patch provides a unique opportunity to carve a lucrative career in one of the most vital industries in the world.

Summary

In conclusion, the West Texas oil patch offers a wealth of opportunities for that resume nerd willing to embrace the challenges of the oil and gas industry. From drilling consultants and petroleum engineers to CDL truck drivers and pipeline welders, these high-paying jobs represent the potential for substantial earnings and the chance to participate in a crucial global industry.

However, it’s important to remember that these roles demand not only specific skills and experience but also a high level of commitment and resilience. Yet, for those who are up to the challenge, the West Texas oil patch can be the platform for a rewarding and lucrative career.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest pay job in the world?

The highest paying job in the world is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) followed by medical professionals, corporate lawyers, investment bankers, and data scientists. CEOs are consistently the top earners across different industries, making it the highest paying job.

What is the highest paying IT job?

The highest paying IT jobs include positions like Data Security Analyst, Network/Cloud Architect, and IT vice presidents and C-suite executives. These roles often offer high average salaries and oversee critical aspects of technology infrastructure.

What is the average salary of a Petroleum Engineer in Texas?

The average salary of a Petroleum Engineer in Texas is around $130,850 per year.

What are the responsibilities of a Mud Engineer?

The main responsibility of a Mud Engineer is to ensure that drilling fluids meet design and operational criteria. This involves monitoring and adjusting the properties of the mud used in drilling operations.

What qualifications are required to become a Drilling Consultant?

To become a Drilling Consultant, you typically need over 10 years of industry experience and at least five years of experience working as an engineer. These qualifications are essential for the role.

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