Geological and Petroleum Technicians: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Although some entry-level positions require only a high school diploma, most employers prefer applicants who have at least an associate’s 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.
Training Required
Most geological and petroleum technicians receive on-the-job training under the supervision of technicians who have more experience. During training, new technicians gain hands-on experience using field and laboratory equipment, as well as computer programs such as modeling and mapping software. The length of training can vary with the technician’s previous experience and education and with the specifics of the job.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 16% (Much faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Median pay: How much do Geological and Petroleum Technicians make?
$56,470 Annual Salary
$27.15 per hour

Geological and petroleum technicians provide support to scientists and engineers in exploring and extracting natural resources, such as oil and natural gas.

What do Geological and Petroleum Technicians 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.

Careers for Geological and Petroleum Technicians

  • Crude testers
  • Geological sample testers
  • Geophysical prospectors
  • Magnetometer operators
  • Mineral technologists
  • Mining technicians
  • Mud loggers
  • Petroleum technicians
  • Seismic interpreters
  • Seismic observers
  • Seismograph operators

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