Hometown: St. John’s
“The thing I like best about my career is that every day is different. I am always learning and developing new skills, working on different projects with different challenges and different people.”
Janis has a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Earth Science (Geophysics specialization) from Memorial University. She says her high school courses in physics and geology were most applicable to her post-secondary studies. Janis also credits her involvement in sports with teaching her valuable career skills such as leadership, organization and the value of hard work. Janis’ natural curiosity about how things work and why things happen drew her to science, while her love of the outdoors drew her to Earth Science and eventually her chosen career.
Janis usually works in an office from 8:00 am-5:20 pm on a compressed work week schedule. This allows her to take every second Friday off. She has some flexibility in her start and finish time. She lives close to her place of work (just a 10-minute drive). Janis’ work takes her from St. John’s to Houston or Calgary every couple of months. She also travels periodically for training. She says Earth Scientists also often have field trips – she’s traveled all over the United States and Alberta, and also to the Arctic, Nova Scotia, offshore and will be going to Spain for a field trip in fall 2007.
Most of Janis’s time is spent using a computer to interpret seismic data, building earth models, preparing presentations and communicating via email. She also has meetings and teleconferences. Essentially, her job is to find oil and gas fields using the seismic data and to define locations to drill wells. Janis describes her workplace environment as “excellent” with all the latest ergonomic furniture and computer hardware. Repetitive stress injuries from computer use are the most common hazard in Janis’ type of work. In order to mitigate the dangers, her company has installed computer software to remind workers to take breaks, the whole office gets together for stretch breaks twice a day and they have workstation evaluations every year or every time they move to a new office.
Janis career began as a summer student. Since then she has worked as a geophysicist on many different projects in different geographic areas. She has progressed from working under the guidance of a senior geophysicist to working more independently, having more responsibility and making more decisions. If Janis continues in her role as a geophysicist, she will continue to increase her skill level and become the lead geophysicist for projects and mentor younger geophysicists. Eventually she could become a technical expert and act as a consultant for different project teams. Janis says there are many other possibilities for geophysicists including: company manager, recruitment and training of new hires, instructor of company training, marketing of oil and gas or negotiating contracts for sale and shipping of products.
Compensation and Benefits
Salaries for an individual with 10+ years experience in Janis’ field range from $100,000-135,000, not including benefits and bonus. Career salaries can range even higher. Janis’ company provides her with medical, dental, life insurance, accident insurance, travel insurance, RRSP, subsidized fitness, subsidized parking, yearly bonus and a stock bonus plan. Her company also offers a yearly success sharing bonus based on the company’s performance, a 3-year special stock bonus also based on performance and a lump sum bonus in the case of outstanding individual performance. Employees may also receive special “uplifts” in salary and benefits for moving to locations other than their home base. Janis says her employer also offers a wide variety of training courses whenever they are needed. She feels her salary in the oil and gas field is higher than similar positions in other industries and much higher than salaries in non oil and gas careers with similar amounts of training.