The following is a list of types of employers that utilize geological services. The list is not complete, but should indicate how wide a choice of companies there is for you to contact.
2. Independent oil companies.
3. Individual independent oil and gas operators.
4. Mining and mineral extraction companies.
5. Electrical well logging companies (examples: Schlumberger, Welex (Halliburton), Dresser, Western, independents).
6. Mud-logging companies.
7. Core and sample analyses companies (Core Laboratories, Inc., TerraTek, and others).
8. Banks (oil and gas divisions, trust services, new business departments).
9. Oil well drilling companies (they need prospects to sell to clients).
10. Water well drilling companies (they need field supervisors).
11. Workover and completion service rig companies (owners have oil and gas production, want to develop their own properties).
12. Well service companies (fracturing, acidizing, perforating companies. Geologists do research in laboratories on well treatments).
13. Federal agencies (examples: Internal Revenue Service, United States Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
14. State governments (regulatory agencies, state geological surveys, highway departments).
15. Local governments (land fill inspectors, pollution and waste control, appraisals for taxing).
16. Tax appraisal firms (they value minerals, production, equipment for tax authorities).
17. Teachers (elementary, high school, college).
18. Oil field product sales (chemicals, treatments, tubular goods).
19. Data gathering and dissemination services (examples: Petroleum Information, Dwight's Reports, Petroleum Data Services, Hotline Reports and Log Libraries).
20. Geophysical data acquisition services (observers, sales representatives).
21. Geophysical consulting firms (record processing, geologic interpretation).
22. Investor representatives (corporate and individual).
23. Land ownership agencies (trusts, companies, estates, individuals). 24. Testing laboratories (construction materials).
25. Consulting firms (geological, pollution and corrosion control).
26. Industrial and construction quarrying operations (reserve and quality estimation for silica glass sand, cement and road aggregate quarries).
It should be noted that employment of geologists in several of these jobs is a relatively recent development. As an example, many drilling contractors who had never used geologists before are now hiring them for permanent positions.
Traditionally, most drilling contractors obtain work for their rigs by bidding on jobs when requested by operators to do so. In times of slow drilling activity the contractors become more aggressive in soliciting work from operators.
During the 1971 to 1981 period drilling activity soared. New contractors came into the business, and established ones purchased new rigs or put back into service rigs they had previously stacked. The active rig count rose from 814 in March, 1971 to a peak of 4521 in December, 1981.
As of late 1984 the active rig count stands at about 2500. Many rigs, purchased at the peak of drilling activity at high prices, stand idle. Their owners are under severe pressure to find work for the rigs in order that mortgage payments can be made to the financial institutions that financed them.
Nowadays, some of the drilling contractors are hiring geologists to originate drilling prospects on which to utilize the rigs. The contractors then contact investors and operators to finance the drilling. If you have contacts with any drilling company you should ask about the possibility of working with them on prospect generation.
Employment of any kind should be viewed as an opportunity to work, learn, and integrate yourself into the geological community of the area. There are few really dead-end jobs.
I know of graduates who have refused offers from mudlogging companies, for example, because they have heard that such work is dull, routine, and offers few opportunities for advancement. A geologist who accepts work as a mudlogger with such pre-conceived attitudes is likely to find the work to be just as he expected.
Alternatively, I have known geologists who have used a tour of mudlogging as a stepping stone to more rewarding work. They joined the local geological society and attended meetings and education courses. They spent time meeting clients and visiting with company geologists who visited the logging unit at the well site. They used their spare time to learn the stratigraphic column and read publications about the local geology of the area where each well was being drilled. As they looked at each sample they sought to ascertain its depositional environment and consider its position in a depositional model. They became aware of the succession of rock types in a sequence of strata, and made a game of trying to predict what the next recovered sample would be. After a year or two of such work, they were as knowledgeable about the geology of an area as other geologists who had studied it for a much longer time. They were ready to assume a position with any company as a competent wellsite geologist, and felt that they had learned much about oil field practices and operations.
Your job search should move from contacting the employers who can offer you the greatest opportunities toward those who can offer less. If you have the qualifications that the majors want, I'd recommend you begin by contacting them first, then work down the list toward the smaller companies.
There are many reasons why large companies are a good place to begin your career. They have attained their relative sizes because they have conducted their businesses well. All have been successful in managing their basic exploration objectives. As a geologist, you need to learn how the companies have become successful: what their exploration strategies are; how they organize and conduct their business; and how they attract, train, and utilize their people.
Large companies have excellent training programs. They conduct short courses on specific topics, and have long- term programs for moving a geologist through the exploration and production departments of the company. They have the time and resources to help you continue your education. Their spectrum of activities is sufficiently broad to acquaint you with a wide range of problems and learning experiences.
Jobs with large companies are fairly secure. Such companies have a longer-range perspective of the future than do most small companies, and they can afford to make employment commitments to their people that small companies usually cannot. Salary levels are high and benefits generous.
Techniques and equipment used by the majors are usually state of the art. Innovations in technology and utilization of new exploration concepts are often pioneered by large companies because they can afford to do so.
Even if you work for a major company for only a short time, you will have an affiliation with it all your life. You will make lasting friendships that will be helpful to you throughout your career, and you'll acquire an understanding and appreciation of the way a large company functions. I'd recommend that you try to get some experience with a major company, even if just for the summer or part-time.
The contributions of major companies to the professional growth and general competence of many geologists working today can hardly be overstated. The problem is that the majors are hiring a relatively few graduates this year. Obviously, most of you will have to look for jobs elsewhere.
The next group of employers to consider are those companies of smaller size than the majors. The September 10, 1984 issue of the Oil and Gas Journal (pp. 103-107) lists the names and headquarter cities of the 400 largest publiclyowned oil and gas companies, as of year end 1983. Even though many of the companies are small, they may drill or participate in numerous wells, as shown in the listing.
Besides publicly-owned companies, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands more, which are privately owned. In addition, there are literally thousands of individuals who are independent operators. The important fact is that there are many companies and individuals in the business, and any one of them may provide an opportunity for you to get started.
Smaller companies and independents have less well defined employment criteria than do the majors. They may fill their need for experienced personnel by hiring from the majors, but take young geologists directly out of school. With the current over-supply of geology graduates, many such companies are now hiring graduates with master's degrees for wages that they previously paid to those with bachelor's. You may find salary and benefit offers from small companies to be considerably less than from larger companies, but your chances for finding employment with one of them is much greater.
It may take some digging to find employment opportunities. Your prospective boss in a small company may be as unfamiliar with employment procedures as you are. He may know that he needs geological support but is unsure about how to go about finding someone with the required technical education. He may be willing to hire one or more recent graduates but is not systematically conducting a search by placing advertisements in professional journals or in recruiting on college campuses. He may be waiting for someone he knows to refer a geologist to him. Getting together with him is your challenge, and will require your creative ideas and a little luck.
Preface | Attitudes | Employment Conditions In Industry
Preparing for a Career in Petroleum Geology | Who are the Employers
Contacting Employers Effectively | Alternative Strategies | References