Business and Economy

What Do Energy Jobs Pay In The USA

“Make hay while the sun shines.” – Proverb

The energy industry keeps America running around the clock. But it also provides stable and often lucrative career opportunities. Energy positions can pay above-average salaries, but compensation varies widely by role, location, education, and experience. For job seekers exploring the energy sector, understanding these salary factors is crucial.

In this post, we’ll analyze what energy jobs pay across different specialties. Whether you aspire to be a wind turbine technician or a petroleum engineer, read on for data-backed insights on maximizing your earning potential.

Introduction: Why Energy Salaries Matter

America’s energy industry is vast, spanning fossil fuels, renewables, utilities, and more. With so many specialties involved in energy production and delivery, salaries can fluctuate wildly.

For job seekers, assessing potential earnings is an essential step in choosing the right energy career path. Location, education credentials, technical skills, and years of experience all impact compensation. By researching salaries thoroughly, workers can set realistic expectations and find positions aligned with their financial goals.

Below, we’ll explore key factors influencing energy salaries and provide data-driven insights on earning potential across energy sectors. Let’s debunk myths about “easy money” and empower informed career decisions.

The Diverse Landscape of Energy Jobs

Before diving into earnings, it’s important to understand the range of specialties within the energy industry. Key sectors include:

  • Renewable energy – solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass
  • Fossil fuels – petroleum, coal, natural gas
  • Nuclear energy – nuclear technicians, engineers, specialists
  • Energy efficiency – consultants, analysts, auditors
  • Utilities – electric power generation, transmission, distribution

Within each sector, both technical and business roles exist. Engineers, technicians, construction workers, scientists, and machinery operators are crucial for energy production. Compliance specialists, accountants, IT professionals, HR managers, and public policy experts also play vital roles.

Let’s look at factors impacting salaries across this diverse landscape.

Read More: The Future Of Renewable Energy: A Sustainable Investment

What Influences Energy Industry Salaries?

Salaries for energy jobs can vary based on:

  • Job role – Specialized technical and scientific roles tend to have higher earnings than entry-level positions.
  • Education – Advanced degrees boost earning potential significantly. Petroleum engineering masters degrees yield the highest salaries.
  • Experience – More years on the job equate to higher pay in most cases. Decades of experience can greatly increase earnings.
  • Location – Cost of living and energy industry concentration impact regional salaries significantly.

Understanding these factors allows job seekers to make informed decisions about specializing and positioning their careers strategically over time. Now, let’s analyze average earning potential across energy specialties.

Average Salaries for US Energy Jobs

According to 2021 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), annual mean salaries for common energy jobs are:

  • Wind turbine service technicians – $56,620
  • Solar photovoltaic installers – $48,020
  • Petroleum engineers – $137,730
  • Nuclear engineers – $127,500
  • Geological and petroleum technicians – $83,160
  • Environmental engineers – $96,590

These reflect national averages across experience levels. Next, we’ll break down hourly wages and salary ranges further.

What Do Energy Jobs Pay Per Hour?

Many skilled trade roles in the energy industry pay hourly wage rates rather than base salaries. According to BLS data, average hourly wages for some energy jobs are:

  • Electricians – $29.96/hr
  • Plumbers – $27.01/hr
  • Power plant operators – $37.68/hr
  • Line installers and repairers – $32.42/hr

These hourly rates translate to $62,370 to $78,510 annually assuming 40 hour work weeks. Let’s explore the full salary ranges across energy specialties.

Salary Ranges Across Energy Roles

High-paying positions

  • Petroleum engineers – $94,000 to $208,000
  • Nuclear engineers – $69,000 to $169,000
  • Solar sales managers – $58,000 to $171,000

Mid-tier positions

  • Environmental engineers – $56,000 to $128,000
  • Electrical engineers – $60,000 to $115,000
  • Geoscientists – $54,000 to $130,000

Entry-level positions

  • Wind turbine technicians – $37,000 to $81,000
  • Solar PV installers- $29,000 to $72,000
  • Energy auditors – $40,000 to $91,000

As you can see, high-paying energy jobs usually require substantial education and training credentials. But ample room for advancement exists across career levels.

Regional Variations in Energy Salaries

Where you work significantly impacts earnings potential in the energy industry:

Highest-paying states

  • Texas – $129,040 avg salary
  • Alaska – $124,300 avg salary
  • Colorado – $107,450 avg salary

Lowest-paying states

  • Kentucky – $72,780 avg salary
  • Arkansas – $74,020 avg salary
  • West Virginia – $74,500 avg salary

Oil-rich states like Texas provide plentiful and lucrative job opportunities. Meanwhile, lower energy industry concentrations in states like Kentucky and West Virginia equate to reduced earnings potential.

Maximizing Your Energy Industry Salary


Beyond location, several strategies can help maximize your salary in the energy sector:

  • Earn advanced certifications and training credentials
  • Cultivate specialized technical expertise in emerging fields like renewable energy
  • Develop leadership and project management skills
  • Gain additional years of experience and seniority
  • Network extensively and keep abreast of new opportunities
  • Negotiate salaries and raises strategically and confidently
  • Explore bonuses, profit sharing, and other monetary incentives

With strategic positioning over time, professionals at all career levels can steadily grow their earnings in this dynamic industry.


While energy jobs are often well-compensated, salaries can fluctuate widely depending on your role, education, location, and experience. By identifying the highest paying sectors and regions, job seekers can tailor their career trajectories strategically. Staying adaptable and open to relocation also widens options in this thriving industry.

The Future of Energy Salaries

As renewable energy expands, new specialties will emerge while fossil fuel roles decline. Cost of living trends will further impact regional salary variations. Staying nimble and expanding your knowledge will ensure your skills stay relevant. With smart planning, energy offers promising and lucrative career paths for decades to come.

Are you working in or exploring the energy industry?
Share your experiences in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How can I find accurate salary data for energy jobs?

Use sources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job search sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and discussions in industry associations and forums. Talking to professionals already established in your field also provides insights.

Q. Do renewable energy jobs tend to pay more than fossil fuel jobs? 

Currently, some fossil fuel engineering roles like petroleum still pay slightly more on average. However, rapid growth in renewables is quickly changing the landscape. Salaries are competitive across both emerging “green” jobs and conventional energy roles.

Q. What qualifications are needed for the highest paying energy jobs?

The most lucrative energy jobs usually require many years of experience and advanced education like masters degrees in engineering or geosciences. Less compensation, but still ample opportunity, exists for those with vocational training or 2-year technical degrees as well.

Read Also: Top 10 Best Paying Jobs In Consumer Services

Aiden Murphy
Aiden Murphy is your expert for job finding strategies. With a finger on the pulse of the job market, he not only provides valuable insights but also updates our audience with the latest job market analysis, ensuring you stay ahead in your career endeavors.

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