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
2019 Median Pay $qf_median_annual_wage_html $qf_median_hourly_wage_html
Typical Entry-Level Education $qf_education_html
Work Experience in a Related Occupation $qf_experience_html
On-the-job Training $qf_training_html
Number of Jobs, 2018 $qf_number_jobs_html
Job Outlook, 2018-28 $qf_outlook_html
Employment Change, 2018-28 $qf_openings_html

What Geological and Petroleum Technicians Do

Geological and petroleum technicians provide support to scientists and engineers in exploring and extracting natural resources.

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

Job Outlook

Employment of geological and petroleum technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. 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

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 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 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.

Work Environment

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 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.

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

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 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’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 and samples, 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

Geological and Petroleum Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2019

Life, physical, and social science technicians

$48,440

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

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

Geological and Petroleum Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2018-28

Life, physical, and social science technicians

5%

Total, all occupations

4%

 

Employment of geological and petroleum technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 1,100 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.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities will stem from growth and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation permanently over the projection period. The best job prospects will be for those candidates who have had hands-on training and who have good technical and analytical skills, which can be acquired through internships, co-op programs, and postsecondary education.

Employment projections data for geological and petroleum technicians, 2018-28
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

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19-4041 $tools.number.format($emp_current) $tools.number.format($emp_projected) $emp_percent_change $tools.number.format($emp_net_change) Get data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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.

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.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop 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

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 2019 MEDIAN PAY
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, and other purposes.

$qf_education_html $qf_median_annual_wage_html
Civil engineering technicians Civil Engineering Technicians

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

$qf_education_html $qf_median_annual_wage_html
Civil engineers Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, build, and supervise infrastructure projects and systems. 

$qf_education_html $qf_median_annual_wage_html
Geoscientists Geoscientists

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth.

$qf_education_html $qf_median_annual_wage_html
Hydrologists Hydrologists

Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust.

$qf_education_html $qf_median_annual_wage_html
Petroleum engineers Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface.

$qf_education_html $qf_median_annual_wage_html
Surveying and mapping technicians Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth's surface.

$qf_education_html $qf_median_annual_wage_html
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Geological and Petroleum Technicians,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geological-and-petroleum-technicians.htm (visited January 22, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 4, 2019