Petrologist

Analyze rock in search of oil, minerals, and precious stones.
picture of Petrologist

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$44,000 – $161,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Petrologists do?

A Petrologist is a Scientist who studies stone. Solid, strong, sturdy, and virtually impenetrable — without a jackhammer, at least — stone is the perfect building material for keeping out bad weather and invading armies, which is why the Great Wall of China, medieval castles, and the Great Pyramid of Giza are all made of it. While stone’s literally “rock hard,” however, it’s nonetheless the job of a Petrologist to get inside it.

As a Petrologist, you’re a lot like a Geologist. Geologists, however, typically study the broad, overall formation and composition of the earth. You, on the other hand, study the formation and composition of individual rocks and rock formations.

Employed most often by private mining and oil companies, but also by museums and universities, you typically help your employer find, analyze, and extract minerals such as gold, natural resources such as petroleum, and stones such as diamonds.

With that mission in mind, you spend your average day in the field collecting rock samples, and in the lab analyzing them in order to determine their properties — for example, their luster, cleavage, streak, hardness, and color — which will help you deduce the origin, size, and composition of deposits.

To do your analysis, you might use chemicals to break rocks down, or X-rays to look inside them. Whatever your method, the end goal is creating written reports on your findings, which will be shared with supervisory personnel at drill sites so they can make informed decisions — both business and environmental in nature — about new and existing mining operations.


Should I be a Petrologist?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.

  • How to become a Petrologist

    Most Petrologists have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aba9ta&chl=|certificate+%281%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2857%25%29|master%27s+%2842%25%29|&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,57
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