A volcanologist is a type of geoscientist who studies active and dormant volcanoes—both on land and at the bottom of the sea—in order to learn more about the Earth. It is certainly an exciting specialty in the realm of geoscience, but it does not pay as well as some of the other specialties within that field. Read below to find out more about a volcanologist salary.

National Average

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volcanologists earned a median salary of $84,470 per year in 2010. However, the BLS information does not take the specialty into consideration; this salary is the median for everyone employed as a geoscientist. Conversely, according to the Department of Geosciences at Oregon State University which does take specialty into consideration, volcanologists can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $130,000 per year with the average salary being $48,000 per year. Salaries tend to be lower for this specialty than for geoscience specialties.

Salary by Location

Although there are only a handful of volcanologists employed across the United States, location can have a huge impact on an individual’s earnings within this field. The highest earnings were reported in Houston, Texas in 2012 with volcanologists there earning an average of $128,000 annually. Dallas, Texas is next on the list with average earnings of $110,000 per year. Those in Miami, Florida earned about $88,000 annually. Finally, volcanologists in Atlanta, Georgia were among the lowest paid in the country, and their salaries average $57,000 per year.

Amount of Experience and Education

As with any job, the amount of experience and level of education an individual has can have a significant impact on his or her salary. For instance, across all degree types, volcanologists with no experience to two years of experience earn an average of $37,349 per year. On the other hand, senior volcanologists with eight or more years of experience earn an average of $83,888 annually. According to Careers New Zealand, individuals with Master’s degrees earned an average of $56,100 in research positions in 2010. However, those with Doctorate degrees can earn between $110,000 and $142,000 although this salary range is very uncommon.

Type of Employment

There are several different industries in which a volcanologist may be employed. Again, according to the BLS, those working for gas and oil extraction companies earned the most with an average annual salary of $125,350. Those working for the federal government earned about $93,300 annually, and those working for an architectural or engineering firm earned a lower but still handsome $68,790 per year on average. Volcanologists working for individual state governments earned the least with an average salary of just under $60,000 per year. they are the average salaries for all types of geoscientists in these industries.

Volcanologists also have an opportunity to earn bonuses for exemplary performance depending on the type of employment they choose. These bonuses may range from just a few hundred dollars per year to $12,000 or more and can certainly be a welcome addition to any salary.