There are lots of great Masters courses around in all different aspects of this career, so it’s important to find out what will be best for you and most useful for what you hope to do in the longer term.
I graduated from Newcastle University in 2006 with an MSc in Petroleum Geochemistry. I chose this particular MSc course as I hadn’t quite decided at that point if I wanted to go into industry or to embark on a career in research. The great thing about the course was that I knew it would help me to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding appropriate for a career in petroleum exploration and its related service industries, but would also act as a bridge between my undergraduate degree and a potential PhD, should I choose to go down that route. The course was made up of taught modules, followed by a research project that culminated in a dissertation.
Towards the end of the MSc course, I decided that I’d like to gain some relevant industry experience, and started applying for jobs in petroleum geochemistry.
In my current role, I’m responsible for the interpretation of various types of geochemical data, including Rock-Eval, gas chromatography, stable isotopes, biomarkers, petroleum composition, vitrinite and other reflectance, and basin modelling. My job involves synthesising interpretations from varied geochemical data, both independently and as a part of interdisciplinary teams. I also consult with geologists and engineers working in exploration and production.
From a technical point of view, my varied work experience to date has enabled me to develop some knowledge of thermal maturity modelling of sedimentary basins and a broad knowledge of petroleum geochemistry related to source rock evaluation, as well as chromatography, biomarkers, and reservoir engineering. In addition, I’ve been able to develop my interpretative skills and writing abilities, as well as communication and teamworking skills.
My advice to graduates intending to enter geochemistry as a career is to research the different areas available, and to make sure that you choose one that matches your interests. In the meantime, try to get as much experience as you can of lab and field work, and focus on developing your writing-up skills and working with others in a team environment.
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