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Working As a Senior Geologist

  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Processing Information
  • $107,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior 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 Senior 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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Average Yearly Salary
$107,000
Show Salaries
$74,000
Min 10%
$107,000
Median 50%
$107,000
Median 50%
$107,000
Median 50%
$107,000
Median 50%
$107,000
Median 50%
$107,000
Median 50%
$107,000
Median 50%
$153,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Exxon Mobil
Highest Paying City
The Woodlands, TX
Highest Paying State
Texas
Avg Experience Level
5.5 years
How much does a Senior Geologist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Senior Geologist in the United States is $107,347 per year or $52 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $74,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $153,000.

Real Senior Geologist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Geologist Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Jan 25, 2015 $289,399
Senior Geologist Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Jan 25, 2013 $287,096
Senior Geologist Talisman Energy USA Inc. The Woodlands, TX Oct 19, 2015 $213,088 -
$243,088
Senior Resevoir Geologist Lukoil International Upstream West Inc. Houston, TX Dec 10, 2016 $199,451
Senior Reservoir Geologist Lukoil International Upstream West Inc. Houston, TX Feb 10, 2016 $196,923
Senior Geologist Talisman Energy USA Inc. The Woodlands, TX Jul 15, 2014 $195,687 -
$225,000
SR. Geologist Hess Corporation Houston, TX Jul 09, 2015 $195,686
Senior Geologist-New Ventures Broken Hill Proprietary (USA) Inc. Houston, TX Feb 01, 2010 $186,000
Senior Geologist Talisman Energy Services Inc. The Woodlands, TX Sep 03, 2013 $180,000 -
$210,000
Senior Geologist Shell Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Jul 12, 2013 $178,900
SR. Geologist Occidental Petroleum Corporation Long Beach, CA Nov 01, 2013 $171,000
Senior Geologist Statoil Gulf Services LLC Houston, TX Sep 02, 2015 $167,523
Senior Geologist Noble Energy, Inc. Denver, CO Jul 31, 2014 $162,000
Senior Geologist Statoil Gulf Services LLC Houston, TX Sep 03, 2015 $160,264
Senior Geologist Petrobras America Inc. Houston, TX Sep 12, 2012 $140,000
Senior Geologist Petrobras America Inc. Houston, TX Jan 01, 2012 $140,000
Geologist Senior Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation Bakersfield, CA May 10, 2010 $139,100
SR. Geologist Hess Corporation Houston, TX Apr 18, 2014 $137,100 -
$192,000
Senior Geologist, Technical Business Services Intertek USA Inc. Houston, TX Sep 15, 2015 $134,252
Senior Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Sep 20, 2009 $132,662 -
$185,529
Senior Geologist Shell U.S. Hosting Company Houston, TX Aug 17, 2012 $117,000 -
$137,000
Senior Geologist Conocophillips Company Houston, TX May 29, 2013 $116,000 -
$174,000
Senior Geologist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Oct 01, 2010 $113,200 -
$192,600
Senior Geologist Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. Elko, NV May 10, 2015 $112,095
Senior Geologist AMEC E&C Services, Inc. Salt Lake City, UT Sep 24, 2010 $109,651
Senior Geologist Conocophillips Company Houston, TX May 30, 2015 $109,360 -
$164,040
SR. Geologist Conocophillips Company Houston, TX Jan 10, 2015 $109,360 -
$164,040
Senior Geologist Conocophillips Company Houston, TX Sep 19, 2016 $109,360 -
$164,040

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Top Skills for A Senior Geologist

  1. Reservoir Characterization
  2. Ground Water
  3. Safety Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Lead development program with land, regulatory, drilling, reservoir characterization team.
  • Performed site investigations to identify potential impacted soil and ground water at various facility buildings prior to their demolition.
  • Prepared and implemented work plans and health and safety plans for various soil and groundwater investigation projects.
  • Saved tens of millions in write-offs using timely subsurface analysis to direct acreage acquisition strategy in Point Pleasant shale oil play.
  • Provision of technical support to mine planning, blasting, and production teams to enhance optimum ore extraction.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Senior Geologists

  1. Louisiana
  2. Texas
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Virginia
  5. New Mexico
  6. Florida
  7. Tennessee
  8. Mississippi
  9. Alabama
  10. Arkansas
  • (8 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)

Senior Geologist Demographics

Gender

Male

75.5%

Female

15.8%

Unknown

8.8%
Ethnicity

White

59.2%

Hispanic or Latino

16.2%

Black or African American

9.9%

Asian

9.5%

Unknown

5.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

34.6%

German

11.5%

Japanese

7.7%

French

7.7%

Dakota

7.7%

Arabic

7.7%

Chinese

3.8%

Norwegian

3.8%

Yoruba

3.8%

Amharic

3.8%

Russian

3.8%

Polish

3.8%
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Senior Geologist Education

Schools

University of Houston

9.7%

Texas A&M University

8.7%

University of Texas at Austin

8.7%

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

7.8%

Colorado School of Mines

7.3%

West Virginia University

5.8%

University of Kentucky

4.9%

University of Colorado at Boulder

4.9%

Oklahoma State University

4.9%

University of Oklahoma

4.9%

Rice University

4.4%

University of Idaho

3.9%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

3.9%

Marshall University

2.9%

University of Alabama

2.9%

North Carolina State University

2.9%

Arizona State University

2.9%

Western Michigan University

2.9%

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

2.9%

University of Texas at El Paso

2.9%
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Majors

Geology

81.1%

Geological Engineering

5.0%

Business

1.9%

Mining Engineering

1.7%

Environmental Science

1.5%

Petroleum Engineering

1.4%

Civil Engineering

1.1%

Finance

1.0%

Chemistry

0.7%

Project Management

0.6%

Computer Science

0.6%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

0.6%

Education

0.6%

Engineering

0.5%

Biology

0.4%

History

0.4%

Geography

0.4%

Management

0.2%

Natural Sciences

0.2%

Anthropology

0.2%
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Degrees

Masters

42.3%

Bachelors

42.0%

Other

7.8%

Doctorate

6.0%

Certificate

0.8%

Diploma

0.8%

Associate

0.2%
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Updated May 19, 2020