Geological and Petroleum Technicians

Summary

geological and petroleum technicians image
Geological and petroleum technicians monitor well exploration activities, and record data such as well temperatures and pressures.
Quick Facts: Geological and Petroleum Technicians
2015 Median Pay $55,610 per year
$26.73 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Associate's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 16,500
Job Outlook, 2014-24 12% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 1,900

What Geological and Petroleum Technicians Do

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

Work Environment

Geological and petroleum technicians work in offices, laboratories, and the field. Most geological and petroleum technicians work full time.

How to Become a Geological or Petroleum Technician

Geological and petroleum technicians typically need an associate’s degree or 2 years of postsecondary training in applied science or a science-related technology. Some jobs may require a bachelor’s degree. Geological and petroleum technicians also receive on-the-job training.

Pay

The median annual wage for geological and petroleum technicians was $55,610 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of geological and petroleum technicians is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Strong demand for natural gas is expected to increase demand for geological exploration and extraction in the future.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for geological and petroleum technicians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of geological and petroleum technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about geological and petroleum technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Geological and Petroleum Technicians Do About this section

Geological and petroleum technicians
Geological and petroleum technicians help identify locations that are suitable for oil and gas wells.

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

Duties

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 define geological characteristics of areas that may have valuable resources
  • Monitor well exploration activities and record data such as well temperatures and pressures
  • Document their investigations and compare actual productivity with their estimates

Geological and petroleum technicians tend to specialize in either fieldwork and laboratory work, or working in offices where they analyze 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 rock samples and other materials 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. They use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to map geological data; the software creates a visual representation and makes the data easier to understand. The results of their analysis 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.

Work Environment About this section

Geological and petroleum technicians
Fieldwork requires technicians to work outdoors, sometimes in remote locations, where they are exposed to all types of weather.

Geological and petroleum technicians held about 16,500 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most geological and petroleum technicians were as follows:

Support activities for mining 32%
Oil and gas extraction 23
Engineering services 10
Testing laboratories 6
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 4

Geological and petroleum technicians spend most of 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.

Work Schedules

Most geological and petroleum technicians work full time. Technicians generally work a standard schedule in laboratories and offices, but hours spent in the field may be long or irregular.

How to Become a Geological or Petroleum Technician About this section

Geological and petroleum technicians
Geological and petroleum technicians use laboratory equipment such as microscopes to analyze samples collected in the field.

Geological and petroleum technicians typically need an associate’s 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.

Education

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 at least 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 (GIS). Community colleges offer associate’s 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.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Geological and petroleum technicians examine data, using a variety of complex techniques, including laboratory experimentation and computer modeling.

Communication skills. Geological and petroleum technicians explain their methods and findings through oral and written reports to scientists, engineers, managers, and other technicians.

Critical-thinking skills. Geological and petroleum technicians must use their best judgment when interpreting scientific data and determining what is relevant to their work.

Interpersonal skills. Geological and petroleum technicians need to be able to work well with others and as part of a team.

Physical stamina. To do fieldwork, geological and petroleum technicians need to be in good physical shape in order to hike to remote locations while carrying testing and sampling equipment.

Training

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.

Pay About this section

Geological and Petroleum Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2015

Geological and petroleum technicians

$55,610

Life, physical, and social science technicians

$43,490

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for geological and petroleum technicians was $55,610 in May 2015. 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 $24,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,620.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for geological and petroleum technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Oil and gas extraction $68,650
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 59,330
Support activities for mining 53,890
Engineering services 47,030
Testing laboratories 45,270

Most geological and petroleum technicians work full time. Technicians generally work a standard schedule while in laboratories and offices, but hours spent in the field may be long or irregular.

Job Outlook About this section

Geological and Petroleum Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Geological and petroleum technicians

12%

Total, all occupations

7%

Life, physical, and social science technicians

5%

 

Employment of geological and petroleum technicians is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Strong demand for natural gas is expected to increase demand for geological exploration and extraction in the future.  

Because geological and petroleum technicians sometimes are involved in ongoing production processes, such as monitoring a well’s productivity, more of these workers will be needed as production increases. Demand for exploration of resources such as coal, metals, and other mined goods generally is expected to continue as it has historically or even to increase over the projection period. This growth will be due to the growing world population and number of industrialized countries.

Job Prospects

The best job prospects will be for those technicians who have hands-on training, through an internship or co-op program, and technical skills in computer programs such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Employment projections data for geological and petroleum technicians, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Geological and petroleum technicians

19-4041 16,500 18,500 12 1,900 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of geological and petroleum technicians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Cartographers and photogrammetrists

Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect, measure, and interpret geographic information in order to create and update maps and charts for regional planning, education, emergency response, and other purposes.

Bachelor's degree $61,880
Civil engineering technicians

Civil Engineering Technicians

Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers to plan, design, and build highways, bridges, utilities, and other infrastructure projects. They also help to plan, design, and build commercial, industrial, residential, and land development projects.

Associate's degree $49,260
Civil engineers

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Bachelor's degree $82,220
Geoscientists

Geoscientists

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

Bachelor's degree $89,700
Hydrologists

Hydrologists

Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust. They use their expertise to solve problems in the areas of water quality or availability.

Bachelor's degree $79,550
Petroleum engineers

Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. Petroleum engineers also find new ways to extract oil and gas from older wells.

Bachelor's degree $129,990
Surveying and mapping technicians

Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth’s surface. Surveying technicians visit sites to take measurements of the land. Mapping technicians use geographic data to create maps. They both assist surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists.

High school diploma or equivalent $42,010
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Geological and Petroleum Technicians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geological-and-petroleum-technicians.htm (visited December 05, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

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Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.