Having just returned home from the international meeting in Barcelona, I want to share the AAPG membership trends that illustrate a shift toward more international. International development is an important component of AAPG's future.
In addition, I want to review the age distribution of our membership that illustrates the importance of further developing our student programs.
Simply put, the average age of an AAPG member has been increasing over the last decade.
Among the most frequently asked questions is about membership trends and numbers. Membership at the end of 2002 was 30,942 (figure 1) -- a decrease from a membership high of 43,803 in 1985.
The total membership has been relatively stable the past few years. The largest part of membership comes from the international regions and Gulf Coast Section. The Gulf Coast membership is currently 9,405, which is 30 percent of the total. International membership is 9,413, also 30 percent of the total.
Figure 2 illustrates the trends for the Sections and the international area; the trend for international membership is increasing, whereas most of the U.S. Sections show a declining membership. International membership in 1980, 1990 and 2000 was 13 percent, 18 percent and 27 percent of the total, respectively. The Gulf Coast appears to have stabilized over the last five years.
The international area, by AAPG Bylaws, is broken into six regions for governance purposes and representation on the Advisory Council (Africa, Europe, Latin America, Canada, Middle East and Asia/Pacific). The largest region is the European Region, with 33 percent of the international members. The smallest region is the Middle East Region, with 5 percent of the international members.
AAPG has five different membership categories (Active, Associate, Student, Emeritus and Honorary).
- Active members meet the degree and experience requirements prescribed in the AAPG Bylaws. They also meet a three-member sponsorship requirement. Actives currently total 56 percent of the current membership.
- Associates are any persons not qualified for any other class of membership, who are college graduates and whose employment is related to geology. Associates comprise 30 percent of the current membership.
- Students are actively enrolled in geology or in a field related to geology. Students comprise 7 percent of the current membership.
- Emeritus members are active members who are 65 or older and have been long-time members of the Association. Emeritus members comprise 7 percent of the current membership.
- Honorary membership is determined by the Executive Committee, and this category is small (0.3 percent of the membership).
The trends for Active, Associate and Student categories are illustrated in figure 3, showing that Active membership numbers are declining whereas Student and Associate memberships are either flat or increasing.
The AAPG has been marketing itself to our large sister societies (i.e., SPE and SEG) so part of the increase in the Associate category is from this segment.
Student members currently get free membership because of the Halliburton grant program. Halliburton agreed last year to pay for student memberships for a two-year program to help promote AAPG to students. The AAPG very much appreciates the support from Halliburton.
The age distribution of members has changed over the last 25 years. In 1980, leading up to the great boom in the oil and gas business, 50.5 percent of the membership was less than 40 years old, 27.2 percent of the membership was 41-55 and 23.9 percent of the membership was older than 55.
In 2002, 25.4 percent of the membership was less than 40, 47 percent of the membership was 41-55 and 27.9 percent of the members were older than 55. Thus the average age of the members has increased over the past 25 years.
The tranche of members that joined during the early 1980s boom is still the majority of the membership. The average age is currently 49, which probably approximates the average age in the industry.
This average age suggests that we may be approaching a human resource crisis. One of the many reasons for emphasizing student programs is to get students into geoscience programs and into AAPG.
Other interesting membership characteristics include:
- The majority of our members live in Texas (33 percent).
- Consultants and independents comprise 26 percent of the membership (16.7 percent in 1981).
- Members employed by the top 50 companies make up 20 percent of the membership.
The changing membership demographics illustrate the importance to continually assess membership needs. We are currently working on a new long-range plan for the Association that will incorporate these trends. The plan will also address the needs of domestic members.
I want to thank our international members for their strong support of AAPG programs. The recent international conference in Barcelona was attended by more than 1,500 people, and it was a huge success.
Special thanks go out to Jordi (Jorge) Ferrer for his efforts as general chairman for the meeting.