How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Petrologist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $105,720
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 10.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

Petrologists are responsible for investigating various aspects of rock masses that exist under the Earth’s crust. They closely assess the variations between different rock types like sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks.

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What is a Petrologist?


The duties of a petrologist include the following:

  • Conduct a detailed analysis of geochemical, geological and geophysical data from various sources like survey results, aerial images and well logs.
  • Track possible sources of minerals, oil, water and natural gas with the use of aerial charts, research and photographs.
  • Critically assess both ground and surface water movements to compile findings on issues of concern like waste management and restoration of contaminated spaces.
  • Identify and flag risks for natural calamities and disasters like earthquakes, hurricane and volcanic eruptions, providing well-researched advice on minimising potential damage.
  • Work alongside health and medical research specialists to effectively address health issues related to geological materials.

Day In The Life

As a petrologist, you would be working in the field and collecting rock samples for research purposes. You will spend time analysing and closely studying different rock types in a lab to understand their composition (e.g. colour, cleavage, hardness), and determine how to extract minerals or other resources from them. With the help of geological data, you may be providing guidance to employers on effective ways to extract resources from a site or how to handle various kinds of rocks. You will use chemicals or x-rays to gain a deeper understanding of rocks you are analysing such as inferring past climate patterns, changing geography and composition.

Gaining a grasp of chemical behaviours of elements and compounds derived from rocks gives insight into many different variables. Some tasks also involve simplifying research findings for a larger audience and working as a consultant for your respective employer. You would be sharing research reports with supervisors so they can undertake informed actions. Another vital aspect of this profession is to execute project management when needed, with innovation and critical thinking.

Work Schedule

The work schedule can vary based on the type of role you have and where you work. Most petrologists work full time and sometimes have to work long and irregular hours, dependent on the fieldwork required. Petrologists must be comfortable spending much of their time doing fieldwork to collect rock samples and bring them back to the laboratory for analysis. You would be looking for rock formations, different geological structures and samples from rocks that are important. Being outdoors will involve working in adverse weather like extreme heat, snow and rains. You may also have to spend time in remote secluded areas.

Growth Of The Job

Aspiring petrologists will find ample opportunities in this industry as the demand is expected to grow at 16% over the next decade – faster than the average for other occupations. Growth is mainly due to more awareness with regard to environmental safety standards and a larger focus on harnessing natural resources worldwide. With a burgeoning population, there will be an urgent need for professionals like petrologists to extract valuable resources such as gold, oil, etc. from rocks.

Typical Employers

Typical employers of petrologists include private mining and oil firms, research institutes and laboratories, universities and colleges. Here is a look at prospective employers in recent times: Museum of Natural History, University of Utah, Ramboll Group, Kleinfelder, Inc. and The Doe Run Company, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, etc. Applicants that stand out will be those that are passionate about making advances in understanding the processes influencing the evolution of the Earth’s crust.

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How To Become a Petrologist

To enter this profession, you must at least have a bachelor’s degree to apply for entry-level roles. Completing a major in relevant subjects like geosciences, geology, civil or geological engineering is an advantage. You should also have advanced skills is handling computer software for specific research like assessing rock properties and related information. Senior roles will ultimately require higher qualifications such as a master’s degree. Pursuing a doctorate will help you get to academic positions in colleges and universities, to focus on performing research and teaching.

Key skills that are valued in this profession are high attention to detail, verbal and written communication skills, emphasis on logical thinking and personal integrity. If you are an individual that possesses a thirst to learn and engage with scientists in a team setting, this is a great role for you.

Petrologist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Petrologist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Petrologist's can make an average annual salary of $105,720, or $51 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $62,030 or $30 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #55 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Petrologist. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Petrologists

  • 9.4%   Doctorate
  • 36.8%   Masters
  • 47.1%   Bachelors
  • 2.3%   Associates
  • 4.1%   College
  • 0%   High School
  • 0.3%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Petrologist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 3,800 jobs for a total of 40,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 10.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #176 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Petrologists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Oil and gas extraction 8,000 1,000 1%
Engineering services 6,200 800 1%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 5,300 1,500 2%

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