Experienced engineers are being offered sky-high salaries and are taking regular calls from headhunters as the booming shale gas industry fights for scarce talent, snapping up engineers from other sectors.

 It’s an all out war for talent,” said Houston-based Gladney Darroh, president of Piper-Morgan Associates Personnel Consultants, a specialist in recruiting oil and gas engineers.

“Right now the hardest individuals to recruit are people who have anywhere from five to 15 years of experience. That’s a real sweet spot right now,” he said.

It’s a simple case of supply and demand: there aren’t enough experienced engineers to go around, and global demand for engineers is growing, especially as the U.S. shale gas industry balloons.

Recruiters say it now takes twice as long to hire engineers compared to other jobs, and salaries are spiking.

“Salaries can reach as high as $200,000 to $350,000 for engineering professionals in senior, but not executive, managerial roles,” said Dane Groeneveld, a director at engineering recruitment firm NES Global Talent.

The severe shortage and competitive dynamics may also slow economic growth as some companies delay big projects due to a lack of skilled workers.