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Want to become an Earth Sciences major, work for mineral/oil companies, advice?

  1. Nov 14, 2011 #1
    Hi guys, I'm new here.
    I'm currently an English major in my first year and I've been thinking about what kind of job and salary I will end up with this kind of degree and I've been seriously considering switching my major to Earth Sciences.

    I have an interest in science and geology but math isn't my strongest subject. I underestimate myself sometimes too, but if I apply myself I think I can be successful.

    I'm interested in working in the mineral/oil industries here in Canada, especially since the money is good and apparently there's growth and potential by the time I graduate... from what I read.

    I'm just looking for advice from Geology majors or people with Geology degrees or people who've worked or currently work in these industries. Any help would be appreciated, kind of at a crossroads.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2011 #2


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    I'm currently a senior majoring in earth science with a minor in geophysics. You'll most likely have to take at least calc I and II if not more. At my school those are technically the only two you need for the major but you have to have a minor, and all of the available minors that would compliment an earth degree require higher level math and physics or chem. Even if you're no good at math like you say I'd bet you could handle it if you put in the necessary work.

    Geophysics would be a good choice for you to work in the oil/gas companies although I may be a bit biased. :) One thing I've found in looking at job postings is that a lot of companies would prefer you to have a masters degree so that's one thing you may want to keep in mind as well.

    Also I don't know if I'm just lucky or if it's pretty commonplace but from the interaction I've had with the geoscience professionals and professors they are all very personable and friendly people.
  4. Nov 16, 2011 #3
    OK the bottom line is, you will be very employable with an Earth sciences degree, but you need to be made of the "right stuff".

    People who are frankly S-H-*-T will maybe get employed (if they're lucky -- and if their grades are poor with a low salary) and then quickly get fired. That said, it's not THAT HARD to get a decent job and to stick at it. The good news is you don't need to be a magician with a calculator (although it helps) -- there are many subdisciplines you can make it in.

    As you take an Earth Sciences degree you should find which bit you like the most.

    If you like maths take geophysics. If you can't do maths take palaeontology. If you can't decide stick with geology.
  5. Nov 24, 2011 #4
    I have an undergraduate geology degree and I currently work as a geosteering tech. I correlate well logs for horizontal wells drilled here in North America. Simple stuff. I started off in the industry as a mudlogger - otherwise known as a barstool geologist.

    Getting my undergrad and then heading into the job market was a bit naive of me. I had success because I had an internship with the USGS, and a little bit of good timing and luck. That being said, I have some advice based on my experience, my coworkers' and the many people I went to school with:

    1. Advanced degree - Masters at a minimum can get your foot in the door at a good company doing interesting and relevant research.
    2. Internships and Summer research - best thing you can do is pad a resume that only includes school work by adding research activities. Remember, as a fresh graduate you have almost zero work experience besides your internships, and that roughly translates into skills of which you have very little.
    3. Thesis and jobs - doing an undergraduate thesis will help you to get accepted into the grad school of your chosing. Try to find a job in the department as a lab hand or doing something else for a professor.

    That being said, here is some other advice if you only want to get your undergrad:

    1. GIS - very important if you want to be a geotech because companies (big ones) hiring people with just undergrad degrees want those who can use ArcGis, Geographix, Petral, Boresite, etc. Taking GIS classes is the proverbial foot in the door for that kind of work.
    2. Database management and programming - it doesn't hurt and only helps to know some SQL. I few people I went to school with that worked as geotechs said that some programming can be benefitial.

    Another bit of advice, in the oil industry the word "tech" roughly translates to "a five letter word that starts with 'b' and rhymes with hitch". Don't burn bridges. Do what you think is best. And as for working in the field on the rigs, you always have the right to tell your employer to pack sand.
  6. Dec 6, 2011 #5
    Thanks a lot guys, this is a great forum.

    I am now considering doing Geomatics Engineering... but it's so intimidating, especially for a guy who has no faith in his math abilities. But an engineering degree compared to a sciences degree would more likely help me get hired by an oil or mining company, right?
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