Petroleum Geology v Petroleum Engineering?

I am currently a mechanical engineering major, meteorology minor that is very unhappy with how things are currently looking like how I'll live. I am looking into Petro Geology (PG) and Petro Engineering (PE) because they have captured my interest for some time, and want to know the major and subtle differences between the two. I have always been one that wished he could travel to the most remote and exotic locations, and not so much an office job until it was time for a family.

1. Do PG get to explore into land that hasn't been tampered with more than PE do? Are things more wild as a PG?

2. How stable are PG jobs compared to PE?

3. Do you need a Master's Degree to get a decent salary as a PG? How large is the pay jump from B.S. to M.S.?

4. Is there some sort of professional ladder to climb as either a PG or PE?

3 Answers

  • 6 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    1. Geologists are more likely to do field work than petroleum engineers, but field work is fairly uncommon once you are working in industry. Most geologists will get lots of field opportunities as undergraduates and graduate students, but few get chances to do field work once employed because it is much more expensive once in the corporate world. While a grad student might camp, cook their own meals, and hike miles spending weeks and weekends in the field, employees seem to expect hotels, restaurants, multiple SUV's, helicopters when needed, bodyguards in some instances, and weekends off. Sadly the companies almost require it be done this way for safety and liability reasons. Then it becomes cost-prohibitive. I have done field work as a geologist in the industry, and I did work 7 days a week in order to accomplish my project, but I was forced to have two SUV's (one might break down), bodyguards and drivers, and stay in hotels (even some of these were so primitive as to not have running water). That was only a little more than a month out of more than a decade. I still get into the field but often it is on my own time and using my own equipment. Some jobs for a PE involve lots of time on oil rigs which doesn't fit your "hasn't been tampered with" idea but it can be in the middle of nowhere.

    2. PE is more stable than PG, especially if you want to be an exploration geologist instead of a development or operations geologist. When times get tough, exploration is usually where the first cuts are made. Both fields are in demand, but the supply of new PE's is much lower than the supply of new PGs.

    3. Yes, without a MS you will have a struggle to get into a good job as a PG. You can get jobs as a mudlogger (working on an oil rig) and as support staff, but will be much better off with the MS.

    4. Yes there is a ladder for both. Many companies have both a technical ladder and a managerial ladder, and you can go either way. There can be many levels of the same job that simply reflect experience and responsibilities. I hate to say it but I see more engineers in upper management. That said, former CEO Tony Hayward of BP was a geologist (and was replaced by an engineer after the Macondo spill), and the CEO's of Exxon and Shell are engineers.

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    These pages can help you understand the difference between the two careers:

    Petroleum Geologist -

    Petroleum Engineer -

  • 6 years ago

    Skip the meteorology minor, it's just a waste of your time. Otherwise everything that was already said is good advice.

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