TARGETjobs black logo
Seismic interpreters use a variety of technical, computational and scientific modelling techniques to produce geophysical and geological data that can be used to analyse the hydrocarbon content of rock structures.

The number of opportunities within the profession and the resulting competition for vacancies is affected by fluctuations in the world oil market.

What does a seismic interpreter do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Seismic interpreters assess the amount of oil and gas contained within rock structures, the ease with which it can be extracted and the likelihood of encountering any hazards or problems in the process.

Those working outside of the oil and gas industry will use the data for research purposes or environmental assessments.

Key tasks include:

  • producing and interpreting computer-generated 2D, 3D and 4D models
  • using sound waves to produce geological structure maps
  • gathering data about the earth’s surface from acoustic readings, surveys and satellites
  • producing maps and cross sections of the earth’s structure
  • recording and analysing numerical and scientific data
  • using computer modelling applications to replicate seismic responses and hydrocarbon production
  • predicting likely changes and movements in rock structures
  • collecting information about rock volume and quality that can be used to measure the likely yield of oil or gas
  • writing scientific papers and reports
  • advising, liaising and consulting with colleagues, clients, consultants, researchers, external bodies and other professionals

Typical employers of seismic interpreters

  • Major oil extraction, exploration and production companies
  • Public sector organisations
  • British Geological Survey
  • Educational establishments
  • Research and development organisations
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

Seismic interpretation is a specialist area of employment with only a small number of jobs available each year. Opportunities are advertised online, by careers services, specialist recruitment agencies, in national newspapers, in relevant publications such as Geoscientist and the monthly magazine sent out by the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain (PESGB).

The recruitment process is likely to involve a technical interview. Read our article on technical interviews to find out what these involve and how you can tackle them.

Qualifications and training required

You can only become a seismic interpreter if you have a degree in a relevant subject such as geophysics, geology, geotechnology, maths and physical or applied sciences.

A relevant postgraduate qualification in geosciences, petroleum geology or other related areas is beneficial, and may be a requirement for some opportunities. A list of accredited courses is available on The Geological Society’s website. Read our article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options.

Pre-entry work experience can be difficult to obtain, but is helpful for entry into the profession.

Key skills for seismic interpreters

  • Numerical skills
  • IT skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Teamworking skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills

Supported by

This describes editorially independent and objective content, written and edited by the GTI content team, with which the organisation would like to be associated and has provided some funding in order to be so. Any external contributors featuring in the article are independent from the supporter organisation and contributions are in line with our non-advertorial policy.

Advertising feature by

This describes content that has been written and edited in close collaboration with the organisation, who has funded the feature; it is advertising. We are committed to upholding our ethical values of transparency and honesty when dealing with students and feel that this is the best way not to deceive consumers of our content. The content will be written by GTI editors, but the organisation will have had input into the messaging, provided knowledge and contributors and approved the content.

In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

Did you know that members with full profiles are more likely to get direct messages from employers?

Don't miss this great opportunity. Register now
Top