Friday, April 13, 2012

mining vs. environmental wages

As a newly-minted geologist, I gravitated to environmental work for two reasons:

1. I like soft rock geology and soils.
2. I wanted to be able to work as a geologist in the vicinity of a big city on the east coast. Resource geology jobs were nonexistent (this was long before the Marcellus shale became big business, and even now, the resource jobs are not near the big cities where my sweetie needs to work).

I had always been under the impression that resource geologists get beacoup money compared to environmental geologists. It makes sense - resource (e.g. mining) geologist have to live where the work is, often in harsh conditions. But how much of a difference is there?

I was reading up on salary differences for various mining professions and locations here. I figure that I would correspond to a project geologist at $74,000, or about 20% more than I make (a very general estimate, assumes a straight salary, blah blah). Consultant rates are higher, but then a consultant covers more of their own benefits, insurance, gear, etc. Resource geologist readers - does this sound about right for the US?

My response is "eh". Slight increase in pay, big decrease in locations I could work and probably a decrease in working flexibility. And if my sweetie can't find work in the vicinity, then that would be a big old decrease in household salary.

1 comment:

Silver Fox said...

I wish I could comment better on this, but I really don't know what exploration/mining geologists employed by companies make (salaried), and am not sure where "Project Geologist" ranks as far as experience (I think I was called that after about 6 yrs back in the 80s, but I have recently seen an ad for a "Senior Field / Exploration Geologist" where they want 5-7 years of experience -- title inflation??).

I do know that my daily rate compares fairly well to what they are reporting for the US - seemingly neither too high nor too low.

Consultant rates are also higher because of the unsureness of actual billable days through a year.