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Become A Petroleum Geologist

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Working As A Petroleum Geologist

  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Processing Information
  • $81,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Petroleum 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 A Petroleum 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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Petroleum Geologist Demographics

Gender

Male

80.1%

Female

11.1%

Unknown

8.8%
Ethnicity

White

60.8%

Hispanic or Latino

15.0%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

7.9%

Unknown

5.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

Dakota

25.0%

French

25.0%

Petroleum Geologist Education

Schools

Oklahoma State University

16.2%

Midwestern State University

9.5%

University of Houston

8.1%

Wichita State University

6.8%

Colorado School of Mines

6.8%

Texas A&M University

5.4%

University of Kansas

5.4%

University of Texas at Austin

5.4%

University of Texas at Arlington

4.1%

University of Colorado at Boulder

4.1%

University of Oklahoma

4.1%

Central State University

2.7%

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

2.7%

Tulane University

2.7%

Baylor University

2.7%

University of New Orleans

2.7%

Stephen F Austin State University

2.7%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

2.7%

West Virginia University

2.7%

University of Southern California

2.7%
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Majors

Geology

75.8%

Business

4.9%

Geological Engineering

4.4%

Management

2.7%

Finance

1.1%

Engineering

1.1%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.1%

History

1.1%

Accounting

1.1%

Geography

1.1%

Natural Resources Management

0.5%

Public Health

0.5%

Computer Information Systems

0.5%

Biology

0.5%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.5%

Law

0.5%

International Relations

0.5%

Environmental Science

0.5%

Systems Science And Theory

0.5%

Economics

0.5%
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Degrees

Masters

44.0%

Bachelors

39.9%

Other

8.8%

Doctorate

3.6%

Certificate

2.1%

Diploma

1.0%

Associate

0.5%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$81,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$38,000
Min 10%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$171,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Exxon Mobil
Highest Paying City
Boulder, CO
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
4.8 years
How much does a Petroleum Geologist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Petroleum Geologist in the United States is $81,810 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $38,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $171,000.

Real Petroleum Geologist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Petroleum Geologist Platte River Associates, Inc. Boulder, CO Sep 22, 2010 $365,225
Petroleum Geologist Platte River Associates Inc. Boulder, CO Nov 09, 2013 $313,050
Petroleum Geologist Platte River Associates, Inc. Boulder, CO Nov 01, 2010 $313,050
Petroleum Geologist/Paleontologist Ellington & Associates, Inc. Houston, TX Jul 15, 2011 $260,875
Petroleum Geologist/Paleontologist Ellington & Associates, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 14, 2011 $260,875
Petroleum Geologist/Paleontologist Ellington & Associates, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 30, 2015 $234,788
Petroleum Geologist/Paleontologist Ellington & Associates, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 28, 2016 $234,788
Petroleum Geologist/Paleontologist Ellington & Associates, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2012 $234,788
Petroleum Geologist/Paleontologist Ellington & Associates, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 14, 2015 $234,000
Petroleum Geologist DRL Engineering LLC Houston, TX Sep 01, 2014 $153,600
Petroleum Geologist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2015 $147,300
Petroleum Geologist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Sep 21, 2014 $147,300
Senior Petroleum Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX May 02, 2013 $144,539 -
$272,729
Senior Petroleum Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Jan 25, 2012 $135,470 -
$228,208
Petroleum Geologist-Basin Modeler Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Sep 27, 2009 $122,700
Senior Petroleum Geologist CGG Services (U.S.) Inc. Houston, TX Jul 22, 2015 $120,182 -
$130,000
Petroleum Geologist Platte River Associates Inc. Boulder, CO Sep 10, 2015 $120,000
Petroleum Geologist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Feb 06, 2015 $120,000 -
$140,000
Senior Petroleum Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX May 01, 2010 $119,700 -
$246,745
Senior Petroleum Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Apr 01, 2011 $108,202 -
$167,400
Senior Petroleum Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Oct 01, 2012 $107,182 -
$170,800
Petroleum Geologist Degolyer and MacNaughton Corporation Dallas, TX Aug 25, 2011 $99,600
Petroleum Wellsite Geologist Goolsby Brothers & Associates, Inc. Centennial, CO Jul 07, 2010 $99,070

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Top Skills for A Petroleum Geologist

  1. Subsurface Investigations
  2. Log Data
  3. Wellsite
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Evaluated well site core and electric log data for determination of productive reservoir zones.
  • Created my own company to expand my career base from only doing wellsite geology to exploration geology and production/completion consultant.
  • Prospect generation and development has been expedited by becoming proficient in Petra mapping software.
  • Constructed maps and purchased leases to allow for additional exploration in various areas of Oklahoma.
  • Formulated and constructed projects to be drilled based from well log analysis, cross sections and geophysical tools.

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Top 10 Best States for Petroleum Geologists

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

Top Petroleum Geologist Employers

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