Geological Sample Test Technician  What They Do

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Geological Sample Test Technicians Career Video

Insider Info

dotGeotechnicians work both in the field and behind desks as part of a team put together for exploration of the physical environment.

Usually, geotechnicians help in the search for valuable resources, such as minerals or petroleum.

dotWork can include cutting and polishing rocks, operating analytical equipment, photography and drafting or chemical analysis of soil samples. It's often an ideal career for those interested in studying the physical environment and the geosciences, but who don't intend to become geologists.

dotEmployment in the minerals industry might find you involved in exploration across the country and into the Arctic. With multinational corporations, you may be able to request a transfer to more exotic locales, such as South America, Africa or Australia.

dotThe examination of geological conditions in rural areas, or "background" geological surveys as part of environmental impact assessments, may involve fieldwork in remote areas.

dotGeotechnicians study volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tidal waves. Some have been witnesses to natural catastrophes. NASA and other organizations that study the other planets in our solar system have employed geotechnicians.

dotDavid Hick is a geologist and geotechnician. He has prospected, laid grids and mapped sites all over the world.

The work has put him in helicopters high above the Gobi desert and in icy encampments in Canada's far north. In the north, he was often expected to be able to make lone expeditions into the tundra to explore for mineral deposits.

"It was fairly exciting work," he says.

dotBut the work is not always so dramatic. Geotechnicians can also spend a lot of time behind a desk.

dotGeotechnician Jamie Boyce works largely with computers. "We do a lot of the grunt work," she says. "We do a lot more of the computer side and less of the science side.

"Let's say the geologist puts together a cross-section [of a certain site]. It's basically our job not to interpret any of the data, but to make it look presentable in a map."

She says the computer skills she uses were not part of her university degree. She picked them up from various jobs that she has had.

dotMost geoscience graduates find employment in the resource industry with petroleum or mining companies or associated service industries. An increasing number of geoscience graduates are finding employment in the environmental industry.

Employment opportunities are enhanced by free trade agreements between Canada, the United States and other countries. Geotechnicians are among a select group of professionals who can easily move from country to country.

dotWork in the field would be suitable for the disabled, says Boyce.

"I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be [appropriate]," she says. "It's not like we're hiking around or anything." She adds that most of her day is spent working with a computer.

Just the Facts

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At a Glance

Conduct fieldwork relating to geology, geophysics, geochemistry, oceanography and mining

  • These technicians work both in the field and behind desks
  • A bachelor's degree greatly increases your chances of finding a good job
  • Free trade agreements between the United States and Canada allow geotechnicians to find employment in either country

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