Oil rig worker ranks among worst jobs of 2013

Are you an oil rig worker? If so, you might want to think about a new career.

You’d be better off as a garbage collector, for instance. Or a janitor. Or a bus driver.

So says The Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper posted this week a ranking of 200 jobs, listing them from best to worst. Oil rig workers came in No. 196. Right after dairy farmers.

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With all the talk of rapidly rising salaries and fears of a workforce shortage — putting oil industry workers in high demand — it’s hard to understand how rig workers sunk to the bottom of the list.

The job rankings are based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook. CareerCast.com, the brains behind the ranking, slashed points from oil rig workers for their tough work environment. Only firefighters and enlisted military personnel suffer worse working conditions, the site said, docking oil rig jobs because  “physical danger and injury are constant threats.”

While the job search site acknowledges the growing demand for rig workers — it projects 8 percent job growth between 2010 and 2020 — it says the expansion of renewable energy casts a pall on the career’s long-term prospects.

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“While fracking is providing new opportunities in the field, sustainable energy’s growth will pose long-term sustainability challenges to the oil rig worker’s job market. Solar panel installation, for example, skyrocketed by 76 percent in 2012.”

The data used for the rankings is based on a 2010 analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given the shale-fueled boom that the oil and gas industry has experienced over the past three years, this ranking is pretty outdated. The median annual pay for oil and gas workers in 2010 was $37,640, according to the agency.

The category includes roustabouts, derrick operators and service unit operators, as well as rotary drill operators.