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Become An Exploration Geologist

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Working As An Exploration Geologist

  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Processing Information
  • $82,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Exploration Geologist Do

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth, such as its composition, structure, and processes, to learn about its past, present, and future.

Duties

Geoscientists typically do the following:

  • Plan and carry out field studies, in which they visit locations to collect samples and conduct surveys
  • Analyze aerial photographs, well logs (detailed records of geologic formations found during drilling), rock samples, and other data sources to locate deposits of natural resources and estimate their size
  • Conduct laboratory tests on samples collected in the field
  • Make geologic maps and charts
  • Prepare written scientific reports
  • Present their findings to clients, colleagues, and other interested parties
  • Review reports and research done by other scientists

Geoscientists use a wide variety of tools, both simple and complex. During a typical day in the field, they may use a hammer and chisel to collect rock samples and then use ground-penetrating radar equipment to search for oil or minerals. In laboratories, they may use x rays and electron microscopes to determine the chemical and physical composition of rock samples. They may also use remote sensing equipment to collect data, as well as geographic information systems (GIS) and modeling software to analyze the data collected.

Geoscientists often supervise the work of technicians and coordinate work with other scientists, both in the field and in the lab.

Many geoscientists are involved in the search for and development of natural resources, such as petroleum. Others work in environmental protection and preservation, and are involved in projects to clean up and reclaim land. Some specialize in a particular aspect of the Earth, such as its oceans.

The following are examples of types of geoscientists:

Engineering geologists apply geologic principles to civil and environmental engineering. They offer advice on major construction projects and help with other projects, such as environmental cleanup and reducing natural hazards.

Geologists study the materials, processes, and history of the Earth. They investigate how rocks were formed and what has happened to them since their formation. There are subgroups of geologists as well, such as stratigraphers, who study stratified rock, and mineralogists, who study the structure and composition of minerals.

Geochemists use physical and organic chemistry to study the composition of elements found in ground water, such as water from wells or aquifers, and of earth materials, such as rocks and sediment.

Geophysicists use the principles of physics to learn about the Earth’s surface and interior. They also study the properties of Earth’s magnetic, electric, and gravitational fields.

Oceanographers study the motion and circulation of ocean waters; the physical and chemical properties of the oceans; and how these properties affect coastal areas, climate, and weather.

Paleontologists study fossils found in geological formations in order to trace the evolution of plant and animal life and the geologic history of the Earth.

Petroleum geologists explore the Earth for oil and gas deposits. They analyze geological information to identify sites that should be explored. They collect rock and sediment samples from sites through drilling and other methods and test the samples for the presence of oil and gas. They also estimate the size of oil and gas deposits and work to develop sites to extract oil and gas.

Seismologists study earthquakes and related phenomena, such as tsunamis. They use seismographs and other instruments to collect data on these events.

For a more extensive list of geoscientist specialties, visit the American Geosciences Institute.

People with a geoscience background may become postsecondary teachers.

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How To Become An Exploration Geologist

Geoscientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree for most entry-level positions. In several states, geoscientists may need a license to offer their services to the public.

Education

Geoscientists need at least a bachelor’s degree for most entry-level positions. However, some workers begin their careers as geoscientists with a master’s degree. A Ph.D. is necessary for most basic research and college teaching positions.

A degree in geoscience is preferred by employers, although a degree in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, engineering, or computer science usually is accepted if it includes coursework in geology.

Most geoscience programs include geology courses in mineralogy, petrology, and structural geology, which are important for all geoscientists. In addition to classes in geology, most programs require students to take courses in other physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computer science. Some programs include training on specific software packages that will be useful to those seeking a career as a geoscientist.

Computer knowledge is essential for geoscientists. Students who have experience with computer modeling, data analysis, and digital mapping will be the most prepared to enter the job market.

Many employers seek applicants who have gained field and laboratory experience while pursuing a degree. Summer field camp programs offer students the opportunity to work closely with professors and apply their classroom knowledge in the field. Students can gain valuable experience in data collection and geologic mapping.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Geoscientists write reports and research papers. They must be able to present their findings clearly to clients or professionals who do not have a background in geoscience.

Critical-thinking skills. Geoscientists base their findings on sound observation and careful evaluation of data.

Interpersonal skills. Most geoscientists work as part of a team with engineers, technicians, and other scientists.

Outdoor skills. Geoscientists may spend significant amounts of time outdoors. Familiarity with camping skills, general comfort being outside for long periods, and specific skills such as boat handling or even being able to pilot an aircraft could prove useful for geoscientists.

Physical stamina. Geoscientists may need to hike to remote locations while carrying testing and sampling equipment when they conduct fieldwork.

Problem-solving skills. Geoscientists work on complex projects filled with challenges. Evaluating statistical data and other forms of information in order to make judgments and inform the actions of other workers requires a special ability to perceive and address problems.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require geoscientists to obtain a license to practice. Requirements vary by state but typically include minimum education and experience requirements and a passing score on an exam.

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Exploration Geologist Demographics

Gender

Male

75.8%

Female

16.9%

Unknown

7.3%
Ethnicity

White

60.8%

Hispanic or Latino

16.0%

Black or African American

10.6%

Asian

7.6%

Unknown

5.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

52.3%

French

15.9%

Dakota

6.8%

Portuguese

4.5%

Indonesian

4.5%

Arabic

4.5%

Lithuanian

2.3%

Japanese

2.3%

Russian

2.3%

Mandarin

2.3%

Italian

2.3%
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Exploration Geologist Education

Schools

Colorado School of Mines

11.7%

University of Houston

8.4%

University of Oklahoma

6.5%

University of Texas at Austin

6.5%

Western Washington University

5.8%

Texas A&M University

5.2%

University of Montana

4.5%

University of Idaho

4.5%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

4.5%

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

4.5%

Ohio University -

3.9%

Eastern Washington University

3.9%

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

3.9%

University of Tulsa

3.9%

University of Colorado at Boulder

3.9%

University of New Haven

3.9%

University of Kansas

3.9%

University of Alaska Fairbanks

3.9%

Western Michigan University

3.2%

Northern Arizona University

3.2%
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Majors

Geology

79.4%

Geological Engineering

5.3%

Mining Engineering

2.3%

Business

1.8%

Finance

1.3%

Law

1.3%

Environmental Science

1.3%

Petroleum Engineering

1.0%

Management

0.8%

Geography

0.8%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

0.7%

Education

0.7%

Computer Science

0.5%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

0.5%

History

0.5%

Information Sciences

0.3%

Medical Technician

0.3%

Project Management

0.3%

Biology

0.3%

Anthropology

0.3%
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Degrees

Masters

44.1%

Bachelors

36.2%

Other

7.9%

Doctorate

7.6%

Diploma

1.9%

Certificate

1.4%

Associate

0.9%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$82,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$40,000
Min 10%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$169,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Exxon Mobil
Highest Paying City
Centennial, CO
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
3.6 years
How much does an Exploration Geologist make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Exploration Geologist in the United States is $82,900 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $40,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $169,000.

Real Exploration Geologist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Regional Senior Staff Exploration Geologist Murphy Exploration & Production Company Houston, TX Aug 05, 2014 $220,000
Exploration Geologist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2011 $210,000
Senior Exploration Geologist Metallica Management Inc. Centennial, CO Oct 06, 2014 $165,500
Senior Exploration Geologist Metallica Management Inc. Centennial, CO Nov 20, 2012 $160,000
Exploration Geologist Shell Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Jan 01, 2015 $157,200
Exploration Geologist Shell Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Jul 12, 2013 $153,800
Exploration Geologist Shell Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Sep 19, 2016 $150,800
Exploration Geologist Conocophillips Company Houston, TX Dec 21, 2015 $150,092 -
$225,138
Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Sep 03, 2010 $147,700 -
$192,600
Exploration Geologist Conocophillips Company Houston, TX Jun 04, 2015 $146,148
Exploration Geologist Shell Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Jan 01, 2012 $140,900
Exploration Geologist Shell Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Sep 12, 2012 $140,900
Exploration Geologist-Sedimentology & Stratigraph BP America Inc. Houston, TX Sep 21, 2013 $139,810
Senior Exploration Geologist Repsol Services Company The Woodlands, TX Jul 20, 2011 $135,471 -
$165,000
Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Sep 22, 2012 $135,470 -
$196,400
Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Sep 08, 2012 $135,470 -
$196,400
Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Oct 01, 2012 $135,470 -
$196,400
Exploration Geologist-Sedimentology & Stratigraph BP America Inc. Houston, TX Sep 21, 2013 $135,000 -
$145,000
Senior Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Sep 19, 2012 $132,800 -
$225,800
Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Sep 21, 2010 $132,662 -
$192,600
Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Aug 31, 2010 $113,200 -
$192,600
Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Sep 21, 2010 $113,200 -
$192,600
Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Sep 18, 2011 $113,200 -
$192,600
Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Oct 01, 2009 $111,400 -
$189,400
Exploration Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Sep 11, 2009 $111,400 -
$189,400
Exploration Geologist Shell Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Jul 12, 2010 $110,700
Senior Exploration Geologist Shell Exploration & Production Company Houston, TX Jul 21, 2010 $110,000

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Top Skills for An Exploration Geologist

  1. Geological Reports
  2. Geochemical
  3. Reservoir Characterization
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepare annual budgets, geological reports, and presentations.
  • Build geological, geophysical and geochemical models for integrated basin modeling, prospect generation, volume estimation and well planning.
  • Provided reservoir analyses and reservoir characterization of existing oil and gas properties for various clients.
  • Work consisted of correlating numerous oil/gas well logs, interpreting seismic data and developing sub-surface maps to determine potential drill sites.
  • Prepared and delivered technical presentations to management during resource assessment or well review meetings.

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Top 10 Best States for Exploration Geologists

  1. Louisiana
  2. Alaska
  3. Texas
  4. Hawaii
  5. Mississippi
  6. California
  7. New Jersey
  8. District of Columbia
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Washington
  • (6 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (57 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)

Top Exploration Geologist Employers

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