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Work in Houston? You Are 17 Times More Likely to Have This Job

Topics: Data & Research

You already know that states like Texas have an economy built mostly on the oil and gas industry. And because of that, there are a variety of lucrative job titles available for people who choose to go into this line of work. But in Houston, one job is substantially more common than it is on a national level. Seventeen times more, to be exact. And while the six-figure pay is quite decent, it’s not even the highest-paying job in the area. Here, PayScale provides a breakdown of the most common jobs in Houston, as well as the median salaries for each position.

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Petroleum Engineers

Median Salary: $115,000 Per Year | Relative Commonness: 17.4

When you consider that some of the best engineering schools are in Texas, including the University of Houston and Rice University, it makes more sense why this specific job title is so common for the area. Most people who become petroleum engineers end up working for oil companies, of which there are plenty in the area.


Median Salary: $117,000 Per Year | Relative Commonness: 9

Hydrologists study the water, its availability, and the water cycle. They tend to get hired based on their relevant experience in the industry. Most employers like oil companies prefer a master’s degree in physical or natural science for this role. The government also employs a number of Hydrologists for research and data collection across the U.S.

Gas Plant Operators

Median Salary: $80,000 Per Year | Relative Commonness: 8.7

Unlike Hydrologists and Petroleum Engineers, Gas Plant Operators have the advantage of earning a high-paying salary without the need for a college degree. Although some kind of two-year vocational training is preferred, it’s not required. The main tasks of gas plant operators is to supervise and control the storage and distribution of natural gas.

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Petroleum Technicians

Median Salary: $61,000 Per Year | Relative Commonness: 6.3

This job is sometimes considered entry-level in the oil and gas industry. It only requires a two-year degree, but some employers likely prefer a four-year degree. The main task of Petroleum Technicians is to assist scientists and engineers with whatever they may need. Job tasks typically involve data collection, analysis, research, and geological mapping.

Petroleum Pump System Operators

Median Salary: $82,000 Per Year | Relative Commonness: 5.8

Petroleum Pump System Operators aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, and the pay is relatively high compared to others on this list. The main role of these system operators is to operate and control petroleum refining and processing units. They gauge, test, and regulate the flow of oil into pipelines.


PayScale created this report based on top-paying titles in a specific region. These lists are filtered by relative commonness to focus on jobs that are not only well-paying, but also unique to the region. This was done to remove obviously high-paying jobs that are found everywhere (e.g. general doctors, lawyers, etc.). Median pay is the national median (50th Percentile) annual total cash compensation. 

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