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Knowing Your Worth: How is Your Salary Matching Up?

Chris Sutton – Partner, Clover Global Solutions, LP

The Great Crew Change has continued to create an age gap in oil and gas personnel.  That’s a tricky situation for oil and gas companies, but what about for the professional workforce? The age gap has left experienced, well-qualified engineers in huge demand now that the economy is recovering.  In fact, the Hays Oil and Gas Global Salary Guide 2013 reported almost 74% of employers surveyed had a positive outlook of the industry’s economic outlook in comparison to figures given in previous years.

When the economy crashed in 2008, many oil and gas workers were asked to take a lower pay rate – or risk losing their jobs altogether.  Since then, the majority (66%) of skilled workers have reported pay increases – including over the last year.

If you’re an experienced oil and gas professional, it’s time to ask, “Am I being paid enough?”  And, “Is my company a good fit for my goals and lifestyle?”  When you’re ready to answer those questions, keep the following information in mind.

Finding Your Fit

Even if you’re happy with your current salary, there might be a job out there that’s a better fit for your lifestyle – whether you need more time to spend with family, help going back to school, or just want to live closer to work.  Many oil and gas companies are offering extra incentives to keep their employees from being recruited by another company or headhunter.  While vacation time, healthcare plans, and travel allowances have become industry standards, many companies are going above and beyond, offering incentives like:

  • Four or more weeks of vacation per year
  • Stock options
  • Educational assistance
  • Wellness benefits, such as gym or spa memberships

Some companies have built offices closer to residential areas to offer a shorter commute.  One known company even has an incentive program that awards all qualifying employees a six-figure bonus if the company’s production rate and value doubles in the next four years.

Your Bargaining Power

Oil and gas companies across the industry are under pressure to solve staffing issues. (See the 2012 SBC Oil and Gas HR Benchmark figure below)  This situation provides a unique opportunity for experienced oil and gas personnel to ask for a few perks.

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Evaluating Your Compensation

If you’re a seasoned professional in oil and gas, 2014 is a good time to bargain for a raise.  The Hays Oil and Gas Global Salary Guide 2013 reported that over 50 percent of respondents received a pay increase over the past year, and over 80 percent expect a salary increase in the next 12 months.

Before you ask for more money, you’ll need to know how your salary matches up against other workers in your area who have similar job titles and years of experience.  Plus, you’ll need to factor in the intangible benefits that your company adds to your wages.

A headhunter or staffing agency familiar with your industry can help you get an accurate picture of where your compensation stands in the current market.  Some headhunting companies will perform free evaluations for subject matter experts with a certain level of technical expertise.  Even if you’re not in the market for a new job, evaluating your compensation once a year is invaluable information to bring to a review with your employer.

Year of Opportunity

In August of this year, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report that compared job growth in the oil and gas industry to that of the total private sector employment growth.  The report noted that from 2007-2012, oil and gas industry jobs had increased by more than 162,000, a 40 percent increase, whereas total private sector employment rose by roughly one million – an equivalent of around a one percent increase. However, as the baby boomers retire, the number of experienced professionals available to fill these jobs will sharply decline. As a result, companies are offering extra incentives and higher pay to keep their seasoned employees, who are being heavily recruited by headhunters.  So if you’ve been thinking about asking for a raise – or finding a company with benefits that match your lifestyle – 2014 is the year to do it.

Chris Sutton has a sound foundation in the energy sector contracting from both Client and Contractor sides with specific expertise in building alliances to facilitate service capabilities. To contact Chris with any questions or comments, please send an email to Chris.S@clovergs.com. 

2 Comments

  1. Desmond M Robson. on December 14, 2013 at 1:12 am

    The past years have not been easy for older (65) workers. It’s nice to know knowledge, skills and the old work ethic has still got some standing in this fast and constant changing industry. Employers are begining to realise that there is a skills gap and the solution can be found by seeking out and employing the older guys.

  2. Neil Hudson on December 14, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Hi Chris i’m a baby boomer at 53 and i could not agree with you more, what i’m finding is a constant stream of Grads that are being fast tracked, a little bit scary when you consider the ammount of DW vessels Jack ups that are being pumped out. How will our industry man these vessels.

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