Geological and Petroleum Technicians

What Geological and Petroleum Technicians Do

Geological and petroleum technicians provide support to scientists and engineers in exploring and extracting natural resources.

Work Environment

Geological and petroleum technicians work in offices, laboratories, and the field. Most geological and petroleum technicians work full time.

How to Become a Geological or Petroleum Technician

Geological and petroleum technicians typically need an associate’s degree or 2 years of postsecondary training in applied science or a science-related technology. Some jobs may require a bachelor’s degree. Geological and petroleum technicians also receive on-the-job training.


The median annual wage for geological and petroleum technicians was $51,130 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of geological and petroleum technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for natural gas is expected to increase demand for geological exploration and extraction in the future.

Geological and petroleum technicians provide support to scientists and engineers in exploring and extracting natural resources, such as oil and natural gas.


Geological and petroleum technicians typically do the following:

  • Install and maintain laboratory and field equipment
  • Gather samples such as rock, mud, and soil in the field and prepare samples for laboratory analysis
  • Conduct scientific tests on samples to determine their content and characteristics
  • Record data from tests and compile information from reports, computer databases, and other sources
  • Prepare reports and maps that can be used to identify geological characteristics of areas that may have valuable resources

Geological and petroleum technicians tend to specialize either in fieldwork and laboratory work, or in office work analyzing data. However, many technicians have duties that overlap into multiple areas.

In the field, geological and petroleum technicians use sophisticated equipment, such as seismic instruments, to gather geological data. They also use tools to collect samples for scientific analysis. In laboratories, these technicians analyze the samples for evidence of hydrocarbons, useful metals, or precious gemstones.

Geological and petroleum technicians use computers to analyze data from samples collected in the field and from previous research. The results of their analyses may explain a new site’s potential for further exploration and development or may focus on monitoring the current and future productivity of an existing site.

Geological and petroleum technicians work on geological prospecting and surveying teams under the supervision of scientists and engineers, who evaluate the work for accuracy and make final decisions about current and potential production sites. Geologic and petroleum technicians might work with scientists and technicians in other fields as well. For example, geological and petroleum technicians might work with environmental scientists and technicians to monitor the environmental impact of drilling and other activities.

Geological and petroleum technicians held about 19,000 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of geological and petroleum technicians were as follows:

Support activities for mining 17%
Oil and gas extraction 14
Engineering services 13
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 5
Management of companies and enterprises 2

Geological and petroleum technicians spend their time in the field and in laboratories, or analyzing data in offices. Fieldwork requires technicians to work outdoors, sometimes in remote locations, where they are exposed to all types of weather. In addition, technicians may need to stay on location in the field for days or weeks to collect data and monitor equipment. Geological and petroleum technicians who work in offices spend most of their time working on computers—organizing and analyzing data, writing reports, and producing maps.

Work Schedules

Most geological and petroleum technicians work full time. Technicians generally work a standard schedule in laboratories and offices, but hours spent in the field may be long or irregular.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of geological and petroleum technicians.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect, measure, and interpret geographic information in order to create and update maps and charts for regional planning, education, and other purposes.

Bachelor’s degree $65,470

Civil Engineering Technicians

Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers to plan, design, and build highways, bridges, and other infrastructure projects for commercial, industrial, residential, and land development projects.

Associate’s degree $53,410

Civil engineers

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, build, and supervise infrastructure projects and systems. 

Bachelor’s degree $87,060



Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth.

Bachelor’s degree $92,040



Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust.

Bachelor’s degree $81,270

Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface.

Bachelor’s degree $137,720

Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth’s surface.

High school diploma or equivalent $45,010

For more information about careers in geology, visit

American Geosciences Institute

For more information about careers in oil and gas exploration, visit

American Association of Petroleum Geologists

Society of Petroleum Engineers

For more information about careers in coal and mineral extraction, visit

National Mining Association


Geological Sample Test Technicians

Geological and Petroleum Technicians

Geophysical Data Technicians

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Geological and Petroleum Technicians,
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