Geological and petroleum technicians provide support to scientists and engineers in exploring and extracting natural resources.
What they do
Geological and petroleum technicians typically do the following:
- Install and maintain laboratory and field equipment
- Gather samples such as rock, mud, and soil in the field and prepare samples for laboratory analysis
- Conduct scientific tests on samples to determine their content and characteristics
- Record data from tests and compile information from reports, computer databases, and other sources
- Prepare reports and maps that can be used to identify geological characteristics of areas that may have valuable resources
Geological and petroleum technicians tend to specialize either in fieldwork and laboratory work, or in office work analyzing data. However, many technicians have duties that overlap into multiple areas.
In the field, geological and petroleum technicians use sophisticated equipment, such as seismic instruments, to gather geological data. They also use tools to collect samples for scientific analysis. In laboratories, these technicians analyze the samples for evidence of hydrocarbons, useful metals, or precious gemstones.
Geological and petroleum technicians use computers to analyze data from samples collected in the field and from previous research. The results of their analyses may explain a new site’s potential for further exploration and development or may focus on monitoring the current and future productivity of an existing site.
Geological and petroleum technicians work on geological prospecting and surveying teams under the supervision of scientists and engineers, who evaluate the work for accuracy and make final decisions about current and potential production sites. Geologic and petroleum technicians might work with scientists and technicians in other fields as well. For example, geological and petroleum technicians might work with environmental scientists and technicians to monitor the environmental impact of drilling and other activities.
Geological and petroleum technicians spend their time in the field and in laboratories or analyzing data in offices. Fieldwork requires technicians to work outdoors, sometimes in remote locations, where they are exposed to all types of weather. In addition, technicians may need to stay on location in the field for days or weeks to collect data and monitor equipment.
Geological and petroleum technicians who work in offices spend most of their time working on computers—organizing and analyzing data, writing reports, and producing maps.
How to become a Geological and Petroleum Technician
Geological and petroleum technicians typically need an associate degree or 2 years of postsecondary training in applied science or science-related technology. Some jobs may require a bachelor’s degree. Geological and petroleum technicians also receive on-the-job training.
Although some entry-level positions require only a high school diploma, most employers prefer applicants who have at least an associate degree or 2 years of postsecondary training in applied science or a science-related technology. Geological and petroleum technician jobs that are data intensive or otherwise highly technical may require a bachelor’s degree.
Many community colleges and technical institutes offer programs in the geosciences, petroleum, mining, or a related technology, such as geographic information systems (GISs). Community colleges offer associate degree programs designed to provide an easy transition to bachelor’s degree programs at colleges and universities; such programs can be useful for future career advancement.
Regardless of the program, most students take classes in geology, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, and physics. Many schools also offer internships and cooperative-education programs that help students gain experience while attending school.
The median annual wage for geological and petroleum technicians was $51,130 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,530, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,660.
Employment of geological and petroleum technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 1,000 new jobs over the decade. Demand for petroleum and natural gas, along with exploration of resources such as metals and minerals, is expected to increase demand for geological exploration and extraction in the future.
Similar Job Titles
Exploration Manager, Field Engineer, Geological E-Logger, Geological Technician, Geoscience Technician, Geoscientist, Geotechnician, Observer, Soils Technician, Technical Assistant, Core Inspector, Electron Microprobe Operator, Environmental Field Services Technician, Environmental Sampling Technician, Laboratory Technician, Materials Technician, Organic Section Technical Lead, Physical Science Technician, Quality Control Technician (QC Technician), Research Associate
Environmental Engineering Technician, Chemist, Chemical Technician, Environmental Science and Protection Technician, Precision Agriculture Technician, Geographic Information Systems Technician, Mapping Technician, Geoscientist, Agricultural Technician, Freight and Cargo Inspector
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Association of Petroleum Geologists - AAPG provides publications, conferences, and educational opportunities to geoscientists and disseminates the most current geological information available to the general public. AAPG is a nonprofit corporation recognized by the IRS as an Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(6) organization.
- Geological Society of America – This organization’s mission is to advance geoscience research and discovery, service to society, stewardship of Earth, and the geosciences profession.
Magazines and Publications
Whether working around the globe at mines and drilling locations, or in labs analyzing data, geological and petroleum technicians help scientists identify locations that indicate the presence of potential resources such as oil and gas, minerals, or metallic ores. In the field, geological and petroleum technicians use sophisticated equipment, such as seismic instruments, to gather geological data. Under the supervision of geologists and engineers, they gather rock and soil samples, and work with environmental scientists and technicians to monitor the environmental impact of drilling and mining. In laboratories, these technicians analyze samples for evidence of hydrocarbons, useful metals, or precious gemstones. They analyze data, produce maps, and write reports detailing a site’s potential for further exploration, or explaining a current site’s productivity. Most geological and petroleum technicians work standard full-time business hours, except when they’re working in the field. Fieldwork is conducted outdoors in all types of weather, sometimes for weeks at a time and at times in remote locations. Many technicians work in mining-related operations, oil and gas extraction, and for engineering services. Jobs in this field typically require an associate’s degree, or two years of college courses in applied science or science-related technology. Some highly technical jobs require a bachelor’s degree.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOne Stop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org