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Careers: Geology/Specialization in Geology


Hello Mr Patton. I'm currently pursuing my final year in B.Sc Geology. I am very confused whether to do an M.Sc geilogy/ geology or petroleum geosciences. Which of these is a better option and would help in me getting a good job? My college professor advised me to do an geology and then later specialize in petroleum geosciences. What is a better options in terms of job oppertunities ? Your advice wolud be appreaciated. Thank you.


I don't know where you are currently going to school.  There are a few things you do need to know.  A MS is absolutely necessary to get any job over a geotechnical position.  Major oil companies and environmental companies require one to be a salaried professional.

Now, I see a lot of "specialized" degree programs that I do not understand.  They have sexy names but that does not tell me much.  What the hell is an MS is Technical Geology?  I assume it is engineering geology...why not just call it that?  That tells me your school likes to sell a lot of bullshit.

A good classical BS geology degree with some specialized electives then more focused electives at the MS level got everyone of my classmates and I a job with a major oil company.  And we were from a small east coast school with no history in oil and gas.

Engineering geology is a bastard stepchild.  You are not considered a geologist for employment in oil and gas, and you are not considered an engineer by that community, so you are in limbo.  Sure there are jobs out there, but mainly in the civil engineering world, working on geological hazards and such.  Do a search and see what is available. Don't be confused by the Geology/Field Engineering jobs, those are not the same.  I worked with an geological engineer in the enviromental business and he never felt like he fit in.

The best money in in oil and gas.  The key is doing your MS in a desirable field of expertise.
It takes some homework to focus on an area that interests you AND is of value to hiring companies.  By that I mean either an are of technical expertise, like Logging while drilling or microseismic both used in horizontal drilling and fracking, current hot areas.  Anything related to gas or oil shales is currently VERY much in demand and will be for quite a while unless the US government kills it.

It sounds like you are staying at the same university, which makes you limited to whatever the college professors have expertise in and interest in.  You can't expect to find advisers in a field that they have no expertise.  What will happen, and sounds like it is already, is they will steer you into an area they have expertise in and need graduates student TAs to help them do the work to get published.  It sounds like your adviser might have a conflict of interest.  What I mean is why should you have to do an MS AND do later studies?  Don't they offer Petroleum related classes at your school?  If not it sounds like he wants you to fill a seat there, then spend more money elsewhere later. An MS degree program has few core courses, most of them are electives in the area that you are interested in to bolster and support your work on your thesis.  So, if you can't get petroleum related electives where you are, you might consider transferring or focusing on general geology related electives.

Areas of value to you in landing a job in the industry is knowledge of petroleum reservoirs, well logging, or petrophysics, stratigraphy, seismic interpretation, sedimentary petrology and a few others. The single biggest thing is knowledge of and experience using geology and geophysical software: something like Kingdom, Petra, Petrel or Landmark.

Most companies offer their software free to universities, and if your school does not have it, have them look into getting it, usually they only have to ask for it and sign a agreement give recognition to the company in any published work.  Then you will get the opportunity to work on a large number of public data sets that are available.  This knowledge alone is worth thousands of dollars.  If your school does not offer classes in this, I would question their committment to helping their graduates prepare for the marketplace.  

Careers: Geology

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Keith Patton


Career and educational options open for fledgling geoscience students. What courses you should take to prepare for the current job market.


24 years experience in Petroleum, Environmental Consulting and geological and geophysical computer software development.


Registered Geologist in Texas
Certified mapping scientitst in RS

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