Importance of oil industry making it easier for geology graduates to find jobs

Kyle Roerink

Daniel Holm, chair of the geology department, thinks it’s a great time to be a geologist.

“It’s about jobs,” he said. “But it’s not just about jobs. It’s about having a positive effect on the world using our resources wisely.”

Holm said during the past 40 years in the U.S., the cost of natural hazards has doubled every decade. Globally, 231 million people are affected by natural hazards every year.

“There is a growing interest in natural hazards because natural hazards are increasing,” Holm said. “Society feels it more.”

He said natural hazards are increasing partly because of climate change and partly because of population growth, and the need to be able to predict them is eminent.

“Natural hazards are not going to go away,” Holm said. “But you can make predictions. You can do things so that the impact of those will be minimized on society.”

Society creates its own problems by polluting and managing its resources poorly, Holm said. Because of these problems, the need for geologists to study Earth’s physical characteristics is viable in the job marketplace .

“Business is booming in geology,” Holm said. “Oil is back, and commodities are back in a big way. With a growing population, we are using more resources, so you have to find new resources.”

For more than three decades, geology professor Richard Heimlich has been helping graduating students find jobs. He said now is an exciting time to be studying geology because of the expansion in job markets.

“Whereas earlier, most of our graduating students obtained employment with environmental firms,” he said. “Job opportunities have expanded recently in the traditional areas of geologic employment (petroleum and mineral exploration). This is due to the jump in energy prices and the significant increase in metal prices.”

“Last year, one of our master’s degree recipients was hired by Occidental Petroleum in Houston at a salary of $83,000,” Heimlich said, “supplemented by a signing bonus of $7,000.”

Holm said a 22 percent growth in geological employment is projected for the years between 2009 and 2016.

He said an old saying in geology is the “present is the key to the past, and understanding the past is the key to the future.”

“We want to get away from the notion that geologists go out and collect rocks and put them in museums,” he said. “… It is very applied, and it has a very big impact on society. It is a great time to be a geologist.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Kyle Roerink at [email protected].