NOC #21102

  • Environment Primarily indoor/office work
  • Education Post-secondary degree
  • Average salary $66,000 to $137,000

Career profile

Geophysicists study the structure, composition and processes of the Earth to locate, identify and extract resources such as oil and natural gas, minerals and groundwater. They use remote sensing techniques and other tools to measure things like magnetics, resistivity, gravity and velocity of sound waves to study the Earth’s structure. They apply different methods depending on existing data, the type of target they’re searching for, and the terrain which can range from land to the ocean floor.

In the energy sector, geophysicists typically work in exploration and research. They apply their knowledge of earth sciences and expertise in physical measurements of the Earth’s properties to enhance geological interpretations. Responsibilities vary with level of expertise, but in general they include planning, acquisition, processing, and interpretation of seismic and other geophysical data.

Geophysicists may specialize in areas such as petroleum exploration and development, environmental, archaeological and earthquake seismology, earth physics and geodesy. Within petroleum exploration and development, geophysicists typically focus on acquisition, processing, or interpretation.

Oil and gas services, Oil sands, Exploration and production, Offshore, Geothermal

When you start in this occupation activities may include:

  • Analyzing and interpreting geophysical information from sources such as geophysical survey data, well logs or aerial photos
  • Assisting geologists with identifying natural gas, oil, geothermal or underground water resources and interpreting survey results
  • Preparing geophysical maps, cross-sectional diagrams or reports concerning the results of field surveys
  • Developing models and applying software for the analysis and interpretation of data

As you advance in this occupation, you may take on additional tasks including:

  • Supervising well seismic calibration, time-to-depth conversion, and the geophysical database
  • Planning geophysical field studies or surveys to collect data for research or application
  • Planning and conducting seismic, electromagnetic, magnetic, gravimetric, radiometric, radar and other remote sensing programs
  • Assisting with providing recommendations on the acquisition of lands, exploration and mapping programs and mine development


  • A post-secondary degree in geophysics or a related discipline is typically required. A master’s or doctoral degree in geophysics, physics, mathematics or engineering may be preferred by some employers.


  • Standard and emergency first aid
  • H2S Alive®
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)


  • Geophysicists are eligible for registration with a provincial or territorial association of professional geoscientists following graduation from an accredited educational program and after several years of supervised work experience and, in some provinces, after passing a Professional Practice examination.
  • Licensing and registration with a provincial or territorial association of professional geoscientists is mandatory to practice in Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

  • Minimal or no travel
  • Primarily indoor/office work
  • Work not physically demanding

You bring a depth of skills, including a solid command of both geology and mathematics. Because you bring one important piece to the puzzle of what’s going on underground, you work with many other disciplines that provide differing expertise.

  • Active listening
  • Attention to detail
  • Mathematics
  • Critical thinking
  • Physics
  • Computer use
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Complex problem solving
  • Quality control analysis
  • Geography