I have no data to support the opinions I write of in this posting. So please do your own research before deciding, panicking, or acting on anything said below. Today I was outside smoking in the damp rain when my smoking companion said that he had just surveyed the salaries of mining geoscientists (geologists and geotechnical engineers). He noted that it appears that salaries for such folk are, on average, higher in Canada than in the USA.
My first reaction was to note that salaries for geoscientists in the oil sands and related consulting organizations probably skew the averages for Canada. He promised to look into this.
Then I pointed out that if you look at geoscientists salaries in Orange County (California), Denver, or San Francisco you would find averages much higher than the USA average. Afterall there are many states where salaries are low. A geotechnical engineer working for a local authority in Iowa or Mississippi will drag down the average.
I returned to my office to field a call from one such person working in the oil sands. He noted that Calgary is no longer a place of infinite jobs–most companies serving the oil sands overstaffed in the past in fear, and now find themselves with a surplus of engineers. He said there simply are few jobs on offer now in Calgary–times have changed significantly.
He conceded that salaries are higher in the oil sands than in the rest of Canada. He has just hired away from a Vancouver company a bright young engineer and is going to pay him more than the Vancouver consultant. A good example of the drift of qualified folk from consulting to the mining companies themselves. No wonder a few Vancouver consultants have laid off many or are considering reduced work weeks!
Yet another phone call told me off an Orange County, California consultant. Just returned from South Africa, he is planning to lure bright mining geoscientists from South Africa to California. Apparently, he thinks they are smart and in many ways ahead of USA engineers in innovative practices & solutions in the mining industry. He thinks the industry can absorb and use them; and he can make money from them. Good News!
I am not sure how you make sense of or put a common thread to these fleeting discussions. Maybe the simple fact is that there will always be work for highly skilled people regardless of the state of the industry or economy. Let me now what you know and how you think on these questions.