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Tulsa Geological Society


Tulsa Geological Society Digest
Vol. 31 (1963), Pages 240-241

Career Opportunities in Geology: Abstract

Orlo F. Childs1


Most of the affairs of the AAPG coincide with the terms of elected officers, and thus extend from annual meeting to annual meeting. For the years 1960-61 and 1961-62 a special committee for Industrial-Academic relations was appointed. The objective of this committee was to gather facts that would allow a recounting of the history of employment and academic training of geologists over the previous ten years; then, on the basis of this history, to attempt a forecast of this supply and demand relationship over the coming years, to 1965. Two detailed questionnaires were sent out in successive years, and final results arrived in March of this year.

We have recorded a complete cycle of excessive demand over supply, then supply exceeding demand, and are now again on the threshold of a demand that exceeds expected supply over the coming three years. Industry trends continue to emphasize a master's degree as the basic academic training for professional employment. Thus, five years are needed for the training of a geologist. The five-year training period introduces a critical time lag that distorts the relations of demand and supply if industry is only willing to think of its employment needs on a year-to-year basis.

Already there is a disturbing age-spread in the geological employees of major oil companies. There are old geologists and very young geologists. Retirements in the next ten years will bring serious problems to companies hoping for experienced leadership in geological departments.

Despite broad diversification of oil companies into all phases of the oil industry, the production of oil and gas is still the major factor in the economic health of most companies. Long range geological employment policies and practices must be developed and followed if this important aspect of the oil company's business is to survive.

On the other hand, many small colleges have started geology departments in recent years during the peak of employment. Often these new departments have only one or two instructors, and the geologic curriculum is built around the specialization of one professor. In such a case, a graduate education at another institution is especially needed in the training of a professional geologist.

Geological education fulfills a dual role. We must serve the science needs of the student majoring in other subjects. At the same time, we must provide a sound basic knowledge of general geology and allied sciences for the student majoring in geology. General geological training, with emphasis on field and laboratory courses, is still the most important background for which industry looks in the selection of professional geologists.

Employment demand for geologists will exceed the supply of graduates from universities over the next three years. Already major oil companies are exceeding their normal search for geologists with five or six years of experience. It can be expected that competent, experienced geologists, who have swelled the ranks of the unemployed during the past five years, will again find their professional services needed in the near future.


Acknowledgments and Associated Footnotes

1 U. S. Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado

October 1, 1962

Copyright © 2006 by the Tulsa Geological Society