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Career Opportunities and Work Life

Completing your degree in geology can lead to a career in:

  • Regional and urban planning
  • Engineering
  • Surveying
  • Education
  • Energy source exploration
  • Mining and mineral exploration

There are numerous areas of geoscience specialty. Just a few include:

  • Atmospheric scientists who study weather patterns and their effect on the Earth's surface as well as solar radiation, ozone depletion, and pollution.

  • Geologists who study the materials, physical nature, and history of the Earth.

  • Marine geologists who explore the ocean floor, continental shelves, and coastal environments.

  • Petroleum geologists who are involved in the search for oil and natural gas reserves.

  • Seismologists who investigate earthquakes and the Earth's plate system that cause shifts in the Earth's crust.

Work Environment

Geologists, and many other types of geoscientists, work in local, state, and Federal government agencies, engineering firms, mining, gas and oil, highway, and gravel companies. From sitting on the planning board of a city commission to working for the Environmental Protection Agency, geologists survey, research, diagnose, and evaluate the physical surroundings.

Depending on which geological field your interests take you, varying office and field hours may be required. Whether you prefer to research numerical data or be out in the field conducting physical research, the goal is the same - discover and explore the physical Earth. Workweek hours will vary.

Employment Outlook
Job opportunities for geoscientists will increase due to the need for regulation, testing, and evaluation of commercial development, the environment, housing and future land use. Nationally, job opportunities are expected to increase by 21 percent by 2020.

An April 2006, Associated Press article states that demand for graduates in geological sciences is nearly twice the supply. This is due to increased oil prices which provide oil companies more incentive to search for oil, too few students in the field, and an aging workforce in the field that is nearing retirement.

Entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree. More and more, a master's degree is needed for research positions in industry, Federal agencies, and state government positions.

Many begin their career in field exploration or as assistants and technicians in laboratories. With experience, increasingly difficult assignments will be delegated.

A career in education at the four-year collegiate level requires a PhD in geology.

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