Young geologist seeking advice on alternative career paths in event of layoff. I know an obvious one is environmental after getting 40 hr hazwoper training. What is the pay and daily work like at an entry level in this field or others. Please no comments about it being nothing like what I make as a petrotechnical worker. That is obvious and I dont have time to cry over it. My tears will not help my bank account. Looking for honest and usable advice, no trolls or McDonald's breakfast evangelists for the love of God.
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Oil business ... get out and stay out
The environmental consulting field will require relocation to states in the northeast or west coast. Work centers on remediation of industrial sites and gasoline stations. Pay is far less than the oil industry. Companies engaged in this work are small to medium sized and privately held. Benefits are not as good.
If you have BS in geology, better to get a graduate degree or change careers. Alternative careers are teaching or state government.
If history repeats, oil busts are long term affairs, lasting 10 to 20 years. Do you have 10 to 20 years to waste?
Your best bet to get pretty good pay is as a project manager, business analysts or consultant. All companies no matter the industry need and use the roles.
Consider getting an advanced degree and retooling, if your young and in reasonable shape, why not join a military reserve unit, you get pension, pay and medical covered.
To answer your question: "What is the pay and daily work like at an entry level in this field or others". First the pay - look on Glassdoor for Project Manager or Geologist titles at companies such as Arcadis, ERM, AECOM, etc. Second, the consulting business model is built on proposals that promise everything based on hourly rates, competitive assumptions, and thin margins. Expect to be salaried but easily work 40+ hours/week and gauged on performance using time sheets that record effort by the quarter hour. Geologists are typically cast into field roles, where 50 or more hours a week are not uncommon. Plus, a lot of travel. Yes - this is how consulting makes money, and especially on the entry level positions. It is a challenging career at first, but becomes more family-friendly with time.
Saying "environmental" could be misleading. While there is certainly a remediation component in the realm of environmental, probably the most common view would be compliance to all the environmental rules and requirements businesses are subject to.
In the latter, there are typically two specialties: air, and then water & waste. People can make careers out of specializing in just one or the other. This knowledge is transferable between O&G, chemical and manufacturing. There is always demand for people with environmental knowledge and experience, and companies often struggle finding good environmental people. Companies will often resort to using someone from any of the large number of environmental contracting firms until they can finally find what they are looking for or end up hiring the contractor. Contracting firms include Trinity, URS, ERM, Kleinfelder, CB&I, Spirit, and lots more.
Once environmental though, your career might tend to stay environmental unless you move back to core geology. I've worked for several companies and the desire is to have degreed people (almost a must) and really like engineers in roles. The latter is not a showstopper, its just that companies feel they can move around and develop engineers in other roles more easily than non-engineers. At least that is how it has always been explained to me. But if you like environmental, it's not really an issue.
Pay is entirely dependent upon the company, but I would say still comparable to engineering positions. Just remember that environmental is a service group and not a profit center. So there might be disparities between the pay of production folks and environmental folks. But environmental still has a career ladder with managers, supervisors, directors, specialists, etc.
Yes, I'm an engineer working environmental, and have been for the past dozen years.
Do you have any interest in coding/programming? The coding schools and bootcamps lead to pretty good jobs. You could work as a coder, and then when oil recovers jump back into the oil industry with a great skill set (coding + geology).