Skills You Need

Skills You Need As A Petroleum Geologist

Geologists are scientists with great jobs…but few of them will ever fit the “mad scientist” stereotype.  That’s probably because most geologists are well-rounded in their thinking and education.  They find all the sciences thrilling, and all those different sciences can can be brought together in geology.

If you want to be a good geologist, you should have immense curiosity, a scientific bent, an analytical mind, artistic ability, creativity, the knack for processing and distilling huge amounts of data, a good sense of humor, and the ability to communicate your ideas to others.

  • If you’re not hip enough to be an artist, but you’re not wound tight enough to be an engineer, you might want to think about petroleum geology!
  • If you like detailed work, but can’t stand the thought of crunching numbers all day long, you might want to think about petroleum geology!
  • If you can pass math through Calculus II, but pages of formulas don’t turn you on, you might want to think about petroleum geology!
  • If maps absolutely fascinate you, and you don’t particularly care for spreadsheets (engineers love the dang things), you might want to think about petroleum geology!
  • If you like to draw and express things graphically, but you’re no Van Gogh, you might want to think about petroleum geology!
  • If you can’t clear the dance floor, yet you can’t bear to sit the next one out, you might want to think about petroleum geology!

You don’t need to be Einstein, Da Vinci, or Pauley Perrette, but being well-rounded really helps a lot.  Petroleum geologists are often jack-of-all-trades types.  They must be creative enough to come up with new ideas, but controlled enough to stick to a scientific method.  That’s not a common talent.

A petroleum geologist works 90% with things, but she must get along with people in the modern “Team Environment,” and possess basic interpersonal skills.  The ability to establish friendly communications is a must, as many types of people must be dealt with regularly.



Finally, you should plan to get B.S. and M.S. degrees in geology, as the majority of fully-employed petroleum geologists have both. A M.S. degree is the gold standard in petroleum geology.

Here is a touchy subject that’s not discussed much.  Having a Ph.D. in geology will clearly help you in a teaching or research environment, but will do very little to enhance your job prospects (or your salary) in the portion of the petroleum field that is centered on finding oil and gas deposits.  Often, a Ph.D. will make you less appealing to many employers in the petroleum industry, at least as far as being an “oil-finder” is concerned.

Try to get a handle on your geology direction by the end of your freshman year at college.  If you happen to major in another science, you will be required to complete a great deal of geology undergraduate coursework if you later decide to get a M.S. in geology.  Most M.S. degrees in geology have entry requirements along the following lines.  It is going to go much easier on you if you already have a B.S. in geology when you apply to graduate school!

To start a Master’s degree in geology, you will need a B.S. in Geology, OR you will have to make up the following:  Physical Geology (4hours), Historical Geology (4 hours), Mineralogy (4 hours), Optical Mineralogy (4 hours), Petrology (3 hours), Stratigraphy/Sedimentation (3 hours), Structural Geology (3 hours), Geology Field Camp (6-8 hours), General Chemistry (8 hours), Physics (8 hours), Computer Science or Statistics (3 hours), Calculus (6 hours), and a possible foreign language requirement.  These are just general guidelines, and do not apply to any particular school!