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What do Volcanologists Make?

Job prospects in volcanology are heating up according the Bureau of Labor Statistics with an estimated 21 percent growth between 2010 and 2020. A volcanologist is a geologist who specializes in volcanoes. Job outlook in geology is growing faster than all other occupations and volcanologists also have the opportunity to teach at post-secondary schools.

Pay Ranges

Oregon State University estimates a volcanologist’s annual salary to fall somewhere between $30,000 and $90,000 per year. A beginner with up to two years of experience in the field makes between $34,881 and $40,247, while a senior geologist with eight or more years of experience makes between $79,352 and $89,875.

Median Volcanologist Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median salary for a volcanologist was $82,500 as of May 2010. Wages varied depending upon industry. Those working for the federal government averaged $93,300 and those working in research averaged about $67,840 annually. As May of 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the mean annual wage at $97,700.

Hourly Pay

Volcanologists are sometimes paid with an annual salary and sometimes paid an hourly wage. Keep in mind that those paid a salary are often expected to work more than 40 hours a week. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2011 report on geologist pay, the median hourly wage for a geologist is $40.61. 50 percent of the geologists surveyed made this amount, 25 percent made $28.61 per hour, and only 10 percent made an hourly wage of $22.09. By comparison, the top 10 percent of earners made as much an hour as $81.98 and those in the 75th percentile made $56.97 an hour.

Highest and Lowest Earners

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the top 10 percent of earners as averaging more than $160,910 per year. Of the bottom 10 percent of geologists, the median salary was less than $43,820 per year. Volcanologists can increase their pay by gaining additional years of experience or an advanced degree in geology.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volcanologists make more in certain areas of the country. As of May 2011, volcano scientists are paid less in areas like Arkansas, with an average of $63,590 per year, and West Virginia, with a median wage of $62,760. They are paid more in states like Texas, which averages $130,200 per year, and Oklahoma with a median salary of $142,310. Volcanologists can work all over the world, so comparing salaries for different areas can result in a higher paycheck.



Lori Soard has worked online designing websites, writing, editing and promoting clients since 1997. Through Promo Warriors, she's consulted with over 100 clients to help them figure out what online presence works best for them. In addition to helping people learn how to start their own businesses, she writes feel-good books about the way love and the world should be.