Around 310,400 people work as firefighters in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While many of these professionals are stationed in cities and towns, some firefighters focus on dealing with petroleum-based fires on oil rigs and other installations. Because of the high risk and isolation of this specialty job, oil and gas firefighters are often paid an above-average salary.
Oil and gas firefighters are specialists in fighting petroleum-related fires. Like other types of firefighters, these workers deal with a variety of emergency situations. Most employees in this field work directly on oil rigs and in other petroleum drilling installations. In addition to standard fire hazards, emergency response crews stationed at oil rigs and wells must deal with blowouts. A blowout occurs when underground gases are explosively released during drilling. Oil and gas firefighters must be physically fit, highly trained and willing to work long hours in dangerous conditions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups all firefighters into one category, regardless of their specialty. BLS data indicates that the median annual wage of all firefighters is $44,260 as of 2008. Due to the extra training and harsh living conditions that are required of oil and gas firefighters, many workers in this specialty earn more than the median amount. According to the BLS, the top 10 percent of firefighters earn over $72,210 per year. The Petroleum Industry Human Resources Committee reports that firefighters in the oil and gas industry usually earn between $45,000 and $85,000.
Not all oil and gas firefighters earn the same amount, and several factors can affect the actual level of income. The BLS indicates the firefighters who are employed by the Federal government earn more than similar workers at the State government level. A firefighter’s level of experience can also affect earnings. Individuals with high levels of experience often serve as supervisors of other firefighters, and are paid more. Additionally, some firefighters choose to work extra overtime beyond the standard workweek, and receive bonus pay.
Income and employment levels of all firefighters, including those in the oil and gas industry, are expected to increase in the foreseeable future. The BLS predicts that employment will grow by 19 percent between 2008 and 2018. Employment opportunities are expected to be the best for individuals who have previous firefighting or emergency rescue experience. People in good physical condition and a high level of mechanical aptitude will also have an advantage in gaining jobs.
2016 Salary Information for Firefighters
Firefighters earned a median annual salary of $48,030 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, firefighters earned a 25th percentile salary of $32,670, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $64,870, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 327,300 people were employed in the U.S. as firefighters.