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Geological and Petroleum Technician

Geological and Petroleum Technician

Education and Training: College plus training

Salary: Median—$19.35 per hour

Employment Outlook: Poor

Definition and Nature of the Work

Geological and petroleum technicians assist scientists to find potential sources of metallic ore, gas, or petroleum. To do this, they lower electrical, sonic, or nuclear measuring equipment directly into wells, or they may collect a sample of mud from the bottom of a well. They use scanning microscopes to determine petroleum content as well as the mineral and element composition found in the samples.

Duties also include operating and maintaining geophysical survey and well logging equipment; collecting gravimetric, seismic, and other geophysical and survey data; working on oil and gas well drilling and programs dealing with mine development, mining methods, and mine ventilation, lighting, and drainage; and assisting petroleum technologists and engineers to create maps of petroleum deposits and diagrams of well drilling sites.

A particular type of petroleum technician, called scouts, collect information about oil and gas drilling operations, geological and geophysical prospecting, and land or lease contracts.

Technicians work not only in oil and gas extraction but also in geophysics, geology, mining and mining engineering, mineralogy, metallurgical engineering, and environmental protection. They are employed by federal and state governments, petroleum and mining companies, consulting firms, and a variety of manufacturing, construction, and utilities companies.

Education and Training Requirements

Geological and petroleum technicians usually complete a two- to three-year college program in geological or petroleum technology, petroleum engineering technology, mining technology, or a related field. The Society for Petroleum Engineers has a list of accredited programs on its Web site (

As with most technicians in the science field, geological and petroleum technicians usually work as trainees under the direct supervision of a scientist or a more experienced technician. With experience and training, they are entrusted with more independence and responsibility.

Getting the Job

A large percentage of geological and petroleum technicians work for oil and gas extraction companies; prospective technicians can check with the human resources department of such companies or Internet job sites for job listings. Candidates may find information at job fairs or through the job placement offices at colleges or universities.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Experienced geological and petroleum technicians can take on more responsibility and larger projects. Some may become supervisors.

Because employment in the oil and extraction and mining industries is expected to decline, the job outlook for technicians is poor through 2014. One sector that looks promising is professional, scientific, and technical services firms, because technicians will be needed to assist environmental scientists and geo-scientists as they consult with industries regarding federal and state environmental regulations.

Working Conditions

Geological and petroleum technicians work mainly outdoors, sometimes in remote locations. They also work in comfortable laboratories, under controlled conditions. Technicians may work irregular hours on important projects that require intense monitoring. Depending on the place of employment, a technician may be required to do extensive international traveling.

Technicians may come in contact with hazardous chemicals or materials in the course of their work. However, with strict safety procedures in place, the risk to technicians has been minimized.

Where to Go for More Information

American Association of Petroleum Geologists
1444 S. Boulder
Tulsa, OK 74119
(918) 584-2555

Society of Petroleum Engineers
P.O. Box 833836
Richardson, TX 75083-3836
(972) 952-9393

Earnings and Benefits

The median salary for a geological and petroleum technician is $19.35 per hour. Benefits include health and dental insurance, paid vacation, and a 401K plan.

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