From our responses when gathering data at the end of 2023, the Average Base Salary for Drilling Engineers is flat from the 2022 Report, staying steady at $170,910 with an average bonus increase from 25 to 26% of base salary. As we observed in the 2022 Reports, there are more young drilling engineers than those with 30+ years of experience, with more expensive Drilling professionals being laid off after mergers. There still is not extensive hiring demand for Drilling Engineers in the domestic, onshore E&P marketplace despite years of strong pay and predictable hiring need during the days of conventional oil exploration and development, and even during the early years of the shale boom. 

Shale plays, with their horizontally-drilled wells and fractured reservoirs, demand a different breed of expertise. Yes, a drilling engineer is still necessary, however data analytics and horizontal geosteering wizardry hold more sway than the traditional know-how of navigating complex geological formations. 

In the data-driven world of shale plays, other skillsets reign supreme. Reservoir engineers and even Completions specialists, armed with algorithms and ever-evolving fracking technology, are the new Belles of the Ball. 

Some drilling engineers are venturing into new territories, applying their knowledge to CO2 sequestration initiatives, which is proving to be a compelling path. Others are embracing the role of consultant, passing on their expertise on a project-by-project basis. 

The coming year should be steady for the best drilling engineers, with positions coming available here and there, but without consistent hiring demand. For those with spotty job history or with restrictions on geographic location, securing a position will be a challenge.

 

DRILLING ENGINEER BASE SALARY    

 

ANNUAL CASH BONUS 

OVERALL AVERAGE 

$170,910 

26% of base salary

 

 

EXPERIENCE DATA 

0-3 Years’ Experience 

$131,850 

23% 

4-8 Years’ Experience 

$146,580 

23% 

9-15 Years’ Experience 

$180,615 

28% 

16-30 Years’ Experience 

$195,232 

27% 

31+ Years’ Experience 

$200,411 

25% 

 

 

REGIONAL DATA 

Dallas/Fort Worth Metro 

$175,077 

24% 

Denver/Rockies 

$166,812 

19% 

Houston Metro 

$186,323 

27% 

Mid-Continent 

$165,950 

23% 

Midland 

$184,258 

27% 

 

ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION 

STOCK / EQUITY 

65% participate in a company stock program 

BONUS 

88% receive an annual cash bonus 

PAID TIME OFF 

Average 3.7 weeks