Almost half of oil and gas professionals are eyeing jobs in cleaner energy sectors as the focus oil and gas companies are putting on energy transition becomes increasingly apparent, although industry salaries are still the envy of many energy workers and remain attractive.

The Global Energy Talent Index (Geti), a report into the industry’s workforce with 21,000 energy professionals of 151 different nationalities and spread across 169 countries, reported that 43% of the professionals surveyed said they were keen to move into the renewable energy sector.

“One of the interesting things from the report is the mobility in the sector, and where people would like to take their transferable skills to. If you look at oil and gas professionals, the number one sector they would like to transfer their skills into is renewable energy, followed closely by petrochemicals,” report contributor Airswift chief executive, Janette Marx, said.

For those in search of work within the industry, the Middle East is the most popular destination – although its allure has waned slightly, falling to 23% from 29% the previous year.

Events in the region such as the recent drone attacks in Saudi Arabia may explain the knock in confidence, according to the report's findings.

Meanwhile, Europe and Asia come in at second and third place as the most popular destinations, with 22% and 18%, respectively, overtaking the Americas, where shale play rig counts are down.

But while mobility in the industry has always shifted based on where most projects or growth are lined up, the main industry attraction has traditionally been the impressive salaries.

However, just how well-rewarded oil and gas work is has depended on the oil price.

Last year, around 65% of oil and gas professionals expected a pay raise but only 42% actually saw one, according to the survey.

Reflecting on the future, 64% of professionals expect a raise this year, with 40% eyeing pay increases above 5%.

The positive news, the Geti report said, is that “hiring managers report broadly the same expectations: 66% and 40%, respectively”.

“Pay in the sector started at a high base and is now rising. Even if increases were below expectations, there is no cause for panic: oil and gas salaries are still the envy of many energy workers,” Marx said.

The pattern makes more sense when geography is considered: North America, where rig counts are down, is among the regions struggling the most with pay.

“Shale play contractors, such as those in the Permian, saw high demand and pay increases as a result. Now they may find they’ve come to the end of their contract in a slightly lower oil-price environment, and the contracts available now are offering slightly lower rates.

"In Asia, for example, where the industry is in the flush of growth, it’s a very different story,” Marx said.

However, the biggest change for oil and gas professionals in the past year is that career progression tops the list of concerns for people in the industry and is considered a main reason to switch industries or place of employment.

“I don’t expect to see salaries be pulled down amid this energy transition because oil and gas companies still need to attract a large number of people and pay has traditionally been the biggest attraction into the sector,” Marx said.

However, she cautioned that one of the main findings of the recent survey is that career progression has become more important than salaries have traditionally been.

“If other sectors can really help future proof the careers of oil and gas professionals outside of their current sectors by focusing on career progression, that will be the way to recruit them out even if salaries are lower,” Marx said.