GeoStudents Face Diverse Choices

“Jobs” is a word that has been music to the geoscience professional’s ears for the past couple of years. While I was writing about “work force” issues last month, I began to better understand the diversity of opportunities available to geologists, geophysicists, engineers, etc.

Of course, AAPG focuses on petroleum-related professional development. Almost everybody is busy today -- from senior petroleum geologists to those just entering the job market. When asked about work, geologists often tell me that they “have more than they can shake a stick at!”

I don’t know what that means, but I am sure it means that they have a lot to do.


Jobs in petroleum geology are available worldwide for conventional and non-conventional exploration and exploitation projects.

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“Jobs” is a word that has been music to the geoscience professional’s ears for the past couple of years. While I was writing about “work force” issues last month, I began to better understand the diversity of opportunities available to geologists, geophysicists, engineers, etc.

Of course, AAPG focuses on petroleum-related professional development. Almost everybody is busy today -- from senior petroleum geologists to those just entering the job market. When asked about work, geologists often tell me that they “have more than they can shake a stick at!”

I don’t know what that means, but I am sure it means that they have a lot to do.


Jobs in petroleum geology are available worldwide for conventional and non-conventional exploration and exploitation projects.

There is an increasing need for geologists who understand the development of unconventional reservoirs, such as exploitation of tight gas shales.

One of the most interesting aspects of work force studies is the number of new jobs opening for geoscientists in energy-related fields worldwide:

  • Research and development jobs resulting from clean-coal technologies will be available as a component or supplying the increasing need for coal in power generation. AAPG’s Energy Minerals Division provides information and opportunities for those professionals interested in energy-mineral resources.
  • After a long absence, it appears that nuclear power plants are back in vogue. I remember the atomic “boom” back in the late 1960s and ‘70s, and even toured a uranium mine in New Mexico when I was a student. Disarmament between the “Super Powers” is providing some supply of processed fuel, however, the supply vs. demand question is, “How great will the need for geoscientists skilled in developing uranium assets be in the future?”
  • Of course, hydrogeology and environmental assessments will continue to offer jobs for geoscientists. The Division of Environmental Geosciences is a great group to join and become involved in their programs.
  • Some of the new opportunities have a symbiotic relationship, such as CO2 sequestration and enhanced petroleum recovery from proven oil and gas fields. Many companies are gearing up their sequestration plans and developing teams of geoscientists and engineers to evaluate CO2 floods in existing fields. This is an interesting relationship between environmental issues and energy demands.
  • Another new area of opportunity for geoscientists is in solar, wind and wave power.

In July, the EXPLORER reported on two geologists involved in developing wind power. At first I was puzzled by the fact that geologists were getting involved in developing this type of energy. Then I realized it involved two aspects that geologists are very familiar with -- business deals and land usage.

Many geologists are good entrepreneurs, so it is natural to extend this talent to other developments in the energy sector.

  • Finally, I am excited to hear more and more interest in petroleum geologists who look at rocks! Of course, this is more of a job requirement than a new job -- but numerous company representatives have expressed the need for this skill in their employees. Understanding rocks is critical to understand the models we develop with new exploration and exploitation technologies.

Teaching petroleum-related disciplines is an important need for our industry.

According to a survey this year of 262 colleges and universities by the American Geological Institute, the top six career pathways for geoscience master’s degree students are:

  1. State/local government (tie) / Federal government (tie)
  2. Environmental
  3. Academia
  4. Petroleum industry
  5. Continuing education

Interestingly, 70 percent of the advisers said they would suggest students to pursue a career in the petroleum industry (89 percent would also suggest a career path in the environmental sector). Meanwhile, 42 percent of the students expressed an interest in pursuing a petroleum industry career. (Related story)

As a professional association, it is important that we continue to develop interest by students in all of the energy-related fields to supply the need for jobs.

You can help. Please volunteer for AAPG student and job activities. Also, join your local society in developing their related programs.

Now is a great time to visit a school or university and talk about your job.

It’s their future -- and ours.

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