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Geological Technician


Description

The Earth is a wondrous phenomenon filled with oceans, rocks, valleys, mountains and green grass. Our Earth has drastically changed in form and composition over the last millions of years and geological technicians are working alongside geologists, trying to figure out how these changes occurred in order to better understand this planet we live on.

Geological technicians assist geologists, engineers and geophysicists to find and develop mineral and fuel resources, by making observations, collecting and analyzing rock samples, recording information, and looking after the practical tasks involved in supplying a remote field operation. Geological technicians may specialise in a number of different areas such as aerial sampling and exploration, petroleum, seismic observation and well logging.

Since most minerals have to be mined and are found in remote locations, geological technicians may travel around the world for work; from the Himalayan Mountains to the Costa Rican rainforest. Some work in the Arctic with glaciologists while others are found on the picturesque islands of Thailand, sampling limestone and other rocks.

Geological technicians collect and analyze geological data for petroleum exploration. They provide technical support and services in the fields of oil and gas exploration and production, geophysics, petroleum engineering, geology, mining and mining engineering, mineralogy, extractive and physical metallurgy, and metallurgical engineering. The work will vary depending on where the geological technician is employed. For example, some may cut and polish rocks, while others operate various equipment. Some will take photographs, while others will be conducting scientific experiments and seismic tests to examine the composition of the Earth to determine where underground deposits of oil and gas may be.

During the stages of their work, geological technicians use a wide variety of instruments including hammers, diamond drills, geopositioning devices, gravity meters, microscopes, spectroscopes and x-ray diffraction equipment. They work with computers, both in the field and in the office.

Some geological technicians work for governmental surveying projects, helping geologists prepare maps that show rock types and geological structures. Yet, most geological technicians work in the fossil fuel and mining industries, locating and extracting oil and minerals from fields and deposits. There are also some geological technicians that study volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tidal waves.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
n/a
 
Median Salary:
$39,437
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
n/a

  Interests and Skills  
What characteristics does it take to become a geological technician? They should have good communication skills, an open, inquiring, analytical mind, along with an aptitude for mathematics and science. They should have good decision-making skills, yet be able to follow instructions as well.

Geological technicians must be able to work both independently and in a team environment. They must be flexible because they have to work in isolated locations, often under harsh conditions. Geological technicians should enjoy a mixture of office and research work and being outdoors working in the field. Their work requires a great deal of precision and innovation.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Participate in geological surveys, prospecting field trips, exploratory drilling, well logging or underground mine survey programs
  • Prepare equipment, products and materials for experiments and surveys
  • Mark outlines of ore, waste and drill hole patterns in operating mines
  • Collect, record and transport samples of rock, soil, drill cuttings and water
  • Operate geophysical instruments to complete surveys which outline hidden rock features
  • Maintain geophysical surveys and well logging instruments and equipment
  • Record what happens during experiments and the conclusions reached
  • Prepare notes, sketches, geological maps and cross sections
  • Use digital technology to produce geological and geophysical maps and sections
  • Assist in preparing, transcribing or analyzing seismic, gravimetric, well log or other geophysical and survey data
  • Assist in the preparation of rock, mineral or metal samples and in conducting physical and chemical laboratory tests
  • Carry out a limited range of other technical functions in support of geologists and engineers
  • Geological technicians usually work indoors in laboratories. They also travel to work sites conducting experiments and taking samples for future experiments. In the laboratory and on a field site, geological technicians may come into contact with dangerous chemicals, therefore they must always wear proper protective gear. Geological technicians generally work standard office hours with occasional evening and weekend overtime, during extensive experiments.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Geological technicians work in both the public and private sectors. In private companies, they are employed by consulting engineering companies, electrical utilities, geotechnical consultants, hydrogeological firms, environmental companies and mining and petroleum companies. In the public sector, they generally work for government departments of the environment and natural resources, or for educational or research institutions.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Geological technicians usually start their careers in junior positions and, with ongoing training during employment, advance to more senior, supervisory positions. Most job opportunities are in medium and small companies where breadth of knowledge is more important than having a particular specialization. The same is true of jobs in the environmental field. Experienced geological technicians may become technologists or geologists with further education and move into private consulting or management positions.
 

  Educational Paths  
Geological technicians usually require completion of a one- or two-year college program in geology or geological engineering technology. Certification in geological technology or in a related field is available through associations of technicians and may be required by some employers. Usually, a two-year period of supervised work experience is required before certification as a geological technician is granted.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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