Older farmer on a tractor

If you search online for the top paying jobs in New Mexico, you’ll be lead to several lists that primarily include only doctors, surgeons and dentists.

But those professions require three key elements: lots of time, major brainpower, and most importantly costly educations.  Let’s face it, not everyone is interested in or cut out to go to college, but everyone is interested in a great paycheck.

Right now, as unemployment in New Mexico continues to hover around 5% and the average salary statewide is roughly $45,674, it’s nice to know there are options for high paying jobs – a lot of them coming from the energy industry. But aside from the CEO, what kind of jobs are there and can anyone besides the boss make good money? If so, how?

Every New Mexican who lives within fifty miles of the now-legendary Permian Basin should take note. In September 2018, the Bureau of Land Management, the government agency responsible for overseeing America’s public lands, held an oil and gas lease sale where companies could bid on energy-producing acreage in the state. The results blew everyone away. A little over $1B in sales were made, shattering the record for all U.S. lease sales.

Aside from the future jobs, this will bring, half of the money received in these auctions goes into the state reserves where the land resides. That’s right, these lease sales just helped bring money to New Mexico with the revenue from this auction totaling roughly 8% of the state’s entire budget.

It’s more than just the typical jobs you consider when you think of energy development. It takes all sorts of people with varying skill-sets to make up an industry, but some skill-sets can have more opportunities than others. The energy industry is no different, but what’s unusual is the number of high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.

Business Insider recently ranked the Top 40 highest-paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree and roughly 27% are related to the energy industry. Here’s a quick rundown of energy-related professions and what they pay on average:


#2 Nuclear power reactor operators. They operate or control nuclear reactors, move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, record data in logs, and implement emergency procedures when needed. Median annual wage: $91,170.

#5 Power distributors and dispatchers. They coordinate, regulate, or distribute electricity or steam. Median annual wage: $81,900.

#7 Nuclear technicians. They assist physicists, engineers, and other professionals in nuclear research and nuclear production. Median annual wage: $79,140.

#11 Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers. They inspect, test, repair, or maintain electrical equipment in generating stations, substations, and in-service relays. Median annual wage: $75,670.

#12 Power plant operators. They control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators. Median annual wage: $74,690.

#26 Electrical power-line installers and repairers. They install or repair cables or wires used in electrical power or distribution systems. Median annual wage: $68,010.

#27 Gas plant operators. They distribute or process gas for utility companies and others by controlling compressors to maintain specified pressures on main pipelines. Median annual wage: $67,580.

#28 Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers. They operate or control petroleum refining or processing units. Median annual wage: $67,400.

#37 First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers. They directly supervise and coordinate activities of construction or extraction workers. Median annual wage: $62,980.

#39 Electrical and electronics engineering technicians. They design, build, repair, calibrate, and modify electrical components, circuitry, controls, and machinery for subsequent evaluation and use by engineering staff. Median annual wage: $62,190.

#40 Boilermakers. They assemble, install, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases. Median annual wage: $62,060.


If you read through the whole list, no other industry has this many high-paying job professions that don’t require a college degree. For the roughly 73.6% of New Mexicans with some college or less, according to the Almanac of American Politics 2018, high-paying job prospects are likely very welcome. As New Mexico continues to be a leader in energy development that means the state is about to be flooded with job opportunities, thanks to domestic energy resources.