I have received many letters over the years. I think I’ll start posting some of them. Names and places have been changed.
Dear Oil On My Shoes,
I just stumbled upon your outstanding website Oil On My Shoes, and I have a few questions if you could point me in the right direction.
I received my B.S. (***** University) and M.S. (***** University) in Geological Sciences in 2012, and immediately after grad school I joined the military as an officer. Last year I left active duty to join the National Guard, and am currently in flight school.
Up to this point I had seen myself heading on the research geologist track, but now I think I’ll enjoy oil geology much better. My question is where to start looking for a job.
My biggest limitation is a matter of geography. Ideally, I would like to live in Arizona.
A cursory search online shows oil geology jobs in Saudi Arabia and South America among other places. I speak several foreign languages so being able to work abroad is extremely appealing — as long as I could have leave to return to Arizona for my National Guard drill duty.
I am single and don’t have children, so I am fairly flexible with these options. If you have any insight into my unique situation, I would be very appreciative!
As a recent graduate with no experience, your best chances of employment in the energy industry would be with one of the larger companies. As you have no doubt figured out, these companies are generally not located in Arizona. Your commitment to Arizona will make your job harder.
However, your willingness to work in foreign countries is a big plus for an entry-level job. Throughout my career, Aramco was almost always hiring. Since turnover was high, most positions were entry-level.
In the US, most entry-level petroleum geologist jobs are located in Texas (specifically Houston and Midland), Louisiana, and Oklahoma. A few are in the Denver area, and a few in southern California. The Canadian oil center is Calgary.
If you have been keeping up with the petroleum news, the industry (as of early 2016) is in a major slump. During slumps, jobs in locations other than the ones mentioned above get even harder to find. This is because the larger companies “pull-back” their jobs in outlier districts — relocating them to the energy centers. For example, a company might fold up a field office in Colorado, and pull the jobs back to Houston.
Most of the older Baby Boomers are now out of the work force. The middle Baby Boomers will be retiring in the next 2-5 years. This will cause many more jobs to open up when the current slump ends. If you have looked at my web site, you have seen that I encourage potential geologists to do what they want to do, rather than worrying too much about money — or the current state of the job market.
You are a rare breed, with your degrees completed and most of your military service behind you. The job climate for veterans is far, far superior to the conditions that existed in the post-Vietnam era. You will be well-qualified when the time comes.. I hope you will stay on the track you have chosen.
The Petroleum Geologist