Wellsite geology is a specialised career and you'll typically need experience in other related roles before securing a job

As a wellsite geologist, you'll study and classify rock cuttings from oil and gas wells in order to determine how drilling should be started and how it should proceed. You'll need to use specialised tests, core samples and rock-cutting data to build up knowledge of the structure being drilled.

With experience, you'll decide when tests should be carried out and, ultimately, when to stop drilling. You'll send reports and logs of completed drilling to the operations geologist and offer advice to oil company representatives. You'll also incorporate health and safety requirements in daily geological operations.

You'll liaise with drilling engineers, petroleum engineers and mudloggers during the course of projects.

Your aim will be to make sure the projects you're working on are successfully delivered and that they operate as efficiently as possible.


As a wellsite geologist, you'll need to:

  • evaluate offset data before the start of drilling
  • analyse, evaluate and describe formations while drilling, using data from sources such as cuttings, gas, measuring while drilling (MWD) and logging while drilling (LWD) tools, and wireline logs
  • compare data gathered during formation evaluation measurement while drilling (FEMWD) with predictions made at the exploration stage
  • advise on drilling hazards and drilling bit optimisation
  • make decisions about suspending or continuing drilling
  • advise operations personnel on-site and in the operations office
  • attend rig meetings after each shift takes over and call the operations geologist with updates
  • acting as the representative of the onshore oil company geology team
  • supervise mudlogging, MWD and LWD, core logging and wireline services teams, and monitor quality control in relation to these services
  • keep detailed records, write reports, complete daily, weekly and post-well reporting logs and send these to appropriate departments
  • maintain up-to-date knowledge of MWD tools, such as gamma ray and resistivity, as geosteering becomes increasingly important
  • communicate regularly with onshore operations offices
  • take the lead on health and safety at the wellsite.


  • The majority of wellsite geologists are hired as contractors and as a result are paid on a day rate rather than yearly salary.
  • Rates can range widely depending on the organisation you're working for, the location in the world and your level of experience.
  • When you first start out as a wellsite geologist, your day rate may be around £350 to £450. Once you've built up significant experience you may be able to command day rates of £800 to £1,000.

Bonuses and additional allowances can enhance your pay. You should check with individual employers to find out what they're offering in their remuneration packages.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Your working hours will depend entirely on drilling activity. Most wellsite geologists work around 150 days a year but some jobs could range from 50 to 200 days.

You'll need to carry out shift work and exact patterns will vary depending on the employer and location. Your working days will be long, typically between 12 to 16 hours. It’s likely you'll work this shift continuously for two weeks, followed by a break onshore of two to three weeks.

What to expect

  • You'll work on site on offshore rigs. The work is physically hard, often undertaken in dirty, noisy and bad weather conditions.
  • Almost all wellsite geologists are self-employed and work as consultants. The nearest opportunities are with North Sea oil rigs. Work is available on rigs throughout the world, some in very remote and hard-to-reach places. Travel to sites in some parts of the world can be complex and difficult.
  • Although there are still a few rigs where living conditions are basic, on most they are very good, with meals and laundry service provided. Gyms and snooker rooms are also often available.
  • You'll need to be comfortable with living in close quarters with others for long periods of time and will typically be sharing a bedroom.
  • There are currently very few women working in this area.
  • Considerable disruption to your personal and home life is to be expected as the nature of the shift work means you'll have prolonged periods away from family and friends.


You'll usually need a degree in geology or in another earth science that contains a substantial amount of geology to become a wellsite geologist. Joint degrees with geology, including sedimentology, are acceptable.

Entry may also be possible with one of the following subjects:

  • applied physics
  • chemistry
  • geochemistry
  • geophysics or geotechnology
  • mineral or mining engineering
  • physics.

A relevant Masters qualification can also be helpful when you're entering the career and some employers will look for this when recruiting. Subjects that are valued include geology, geophysics, engineering and physics.

Search postgraduate courses in geology.

You'll usually need field experience as a mudlogger or logging geologist, possibly for up to two years before moving into the role of wellsite geologist. Experience with a measuring while drilling (MWD) company is also useful.

Competition for posts varies depending on the state of the market.


You'll need to have:

  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • the ability to work independently, as well as within a team of multidisciplinary professionals
  • analytical and critical thinking skills
  • confidence in giving an opinion
  • the ability to evaluate complex information and make decisions at any hour, day or night
  • an understanding of the activity taking place in the well and its implications
  • sensitivity to different cultures and ways of working
  • leadership and supervisory skills
  • practical skills
  • the ability to work with sophisticated technology
  • strong mathematical and scientific analytical skills
  • the ability to get on well with others in and out of the working environment, as you'll be working and living with the same set of people, without respite, for several weeks
  • competence in IT, with the ability to use standard office programs and specialised software
  • the ability to cope with working under pressure.

Foreign language skills can be useful as you'll be living and working with people from a range of different countries.

All rig personnel, including wellsite geologists, are required to pass several tests of physical fitness and survival. Offshore fire qualifications are normally required.

Work experience

It's unlikely you'll get a job as a wellsite geologist straight from university and you'll usually need to build up experience in the field first. You may start work as a mudlogger before progressing to the role of data engineer - this is the most experienced role in the mudlogging team.

You could also get experience working in logging while drilling (LWD) or wireline logging roles.

You'll need to be committed, hardworking and determined as it can take time to build up enough experience to be able to achieve the position of wellsite geologist. Recommendation from a senior geologist who you have worked with will enhance your chances of getting a job.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


Very few wellsite geologists work directly for oil or gas companies. It's more likely that you'll be employed as a contractor and will be registered with a specialist consultancy that will match you to available positions.

The companies that specialise in geological services are small to medium-sized. These provide most opportunities for wellsite geologists. You can also find positions with other companies that offer wellsite geology as another service alongside drilling services.

The major consultancy groups tend to recruit regionally. However, this is a global industry and you can gain positions abroad where although conditions may be more basic, rates are still reasonably high. Many contracts are short term but well paid.

Longer-term contracts can give more security but are often less well paid. The exploration and extraction business is worldwide and therefore you will be competing with those from other countries.

Look for job vacancies at:

Also get in touch with specialist oil and gas recruitment agencies who can help you to find a position.

As you'll be self-employed you'll be responsible for insurance costs and arranging your own training.

Professional development

There is no formal wellsite geology qualification. However, you'll generally have undertaken training in a range of areas in previous roles before beginning work as a wellsite geologist.

Courses for those who are new to wellsite geology are provided by companies such as HRH Geology and RPS.

You'll need to keep your skills and knowledge up to date throughout your career and also learn about new technologies and processes.

Typical areas of training include:

  • wellsite and offshore safety management
  • risk assessment
  • control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)
  • wellsite operations
  • wellsite geological procedures
  • formation evaluation of wireline
  • abnormal pressure interpretation
  • FEMWD logs.

As an independent consultant, you'll be expected to put yourself through such courses, at your own cost, in order to keep your skills up to date.

Several of the geological services organisations that recruit staff also run training courses delivered at their premises or in-house at a company site or other venue.

More information on training in the oil and gas industry can be found at OPITO. The Energy Institute also offers relevant training programmes - for more information, see Energy Institute - Training.

Career prospects

Before getting a post as a wellsite geologist, you'll probably have built up experience in the field as a mudlogger or data engineer. You may also have a relevant MSc and direct experience of working as a geologist for an oil company.

As an independent consultant, you'll be largely responsible for your own career development. The best way to maintain some continuity of work is to develop a good working relationship with one or two oil companies and become their preferred contractor. Making good contacts is key to being offered future positions.

You should aim for chartered geologist (CGeol) status through The Geological Society. Becoming chartered shows that you're a competent professional with a high level of knowledge, skills and experience. Find out more at The Geological Society - Chartership and Professional.

It’s possible for you to become an operations geologist for an oil company, which may be on a rotating contract or on a long-term contract which will require relocation. You can also choose to take further training (usually self-funded) to become a petrophysicist or reservoir engineer for an oil company.

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page