PhDs in Petrophysics/Geophysics viable for the future?

<p>Would getting a PhD in either Petrophysics or Geophysics be taking a risk for future-proofing a career for the rest of my working life? I don't know much about the oil industry, but I've been hearing varying arguments from both sides about the availability of oil in the future. Just wanted to know how risky it was to put everything into one of these degrees.</p>

<p>To answer your question: there is plenty of oil in the ground, and provided that you get your degree sometime within the next decade you would likely have a full, complete, and well-paying career in the oil and gas industry.</p>

<p>Somethings you should know though:</p>

<p>1 - Oil and gas jobs are very geographically limited. With a PhD your only option to actually use your degree is to go to Houston, or maybe a few other places internationally. </p>

<p>2 - Don't count on getting a job in academia with a PhD in Geophysics or Petroleum Engineering. The job market for academics in the geosciences is glutted as badly as other fields are.</p>

<p>3 - A PhD is not worth as much as you think to an oil and gas company, and may actually be a bad move career wise depending on what you want to do. If you want to work with a small oil and gas company, then your PhD will be wasted. If you work for a large oil and gas company (i.e. one that actually has a research group), then you may find yourself pigeonholed, and unable to move around as freely as someone who only has a Masters degree. You may in fact have more flexibility with your career if you only get a Masters degree instead (both in terms of where you can work, and what you can work on). Don't think that it's also necessary to get a PhD to do research. Oil and gas companies are chronically starved for talent right now: if you show ability you can work into positions that you might not think you are otherwise qualified for.</p>

<p>4 - The pay is fantastic. You won't find a better salary anywhere, except for maybe on Wall Street.</p>

<p>5 - However, geophysics and petrophysics are very oil and gas oriented. Yes, there are careers outside of the oil patch, but they are vastly different and more similar to environmental science work. The pay is much less, the work is typically less interesting, and there are fewer opportunities as a whole.</p>

<p>6 - You really only need a PhD in Geophysics if you want to do consulting, or if you absolutely want to do research. But like I said, only a few companies actually do research.</p>

<p>All that being said, I would say go to graduate school in Geophysics if you are interested. It's a wonderfully broad field, and you will learn a lot. However, I would recommend that you go for a Masters degree, see what job opportunities are available and then decide whether or not you absolutely want to get a PhD. There's no point doing a PhD as a career booster unless you're actually going to use it.</p>

<p>pseudoghost gave a very good prospective. Experiences in seismic data processing is more important in getting Ph.D. If you pursue a Master degree, you can concentrate on using some software to process seismic data, it would be very useful career wise. But as you probably know, oil and gas prices fluctuate and the consequence is that the need for geophysicists also fluctuate. </p>

<p>In the future, if there are going to be practical alternative energies, the production of oil and gas could drop significantly. Or if the political compaign moves toward the direction of cleaner engery, it could cause downsize of the industry, too.</p>

<p>well, DS is getting a PHd in Geophysics at CalTech, but in Seismology, not petroleum studies. He is intent on working in academia or for USGS. There have been studies that have shown there has been no net global increase in the # of Geophysics Phds graduating over the last 20 years, despite the huge increase in petroleum research , exploration and production over the same period of time, and there is a large bubble of older Geophysicists getting close to retirement age, so a PhD in that area should be able to find work easily and have a very stable career.</p>

<p>menloparkmom: I wish your son all the best in his search for a position in academia or with the federal government. I don't want to be overly negative, but I feel that everyone should know that positions within the USGS and academia (for seismology) are extremely competitive. If your son is one of the lucky ones, then he will find a way in, but most people will not be so lucky. It's very common to find "academic" seismologists in petroleum, and mining firms because they were unable to find positions in academia.</p>

<p>thank you . he was already published as lead author, for research he did for 5 years [ starting in HS] with a senior seismologist at USGS Menlo Park, before he got his BS. He has been lucky, [ being in the right place at the right time] no question, but he has also made the most of his many opportunities. I think he'll be fine.</p>