Geoscientists study all aspects of the structure and composition of the Earth. They use simple, mechanical and technological tools to scan for, collect and evaluate natural resources. Geoscientists examine physical samples and observe Earth processes to understand the past and predict future events. Geoscientist specialists focus on certain aspects of the Earth such as its oceans, minerals or seismic activity.
Duties and responsibilities
- Analyse aerial photos, topographical surveys, well logs and other geoscientific data
- Conduct field studies and surveys, collecting samples and recording data
- Use mechanical and technological tools to scan for natural resources
- Advise on the preservation or extraction of natural sources
- Interpret all collected data using appropriate software
- Examine environmental impact of population, technology, pollution and other manmade issues
- Identify potential sources of clean energy and alternate fuels
- Locate sources of necessary elements
- Research, study and propose solutions for environmental problems such as groundwater contamination
- Gather measurements, data and samples of the Earth's crust for historical geological information
- Identify risks and early warning signs of earthquakes, mudslides and other natural disasters
- Create geologic maps, charts and reports
- Test earth elements and processes in a lab environment and interpret results
- Present findings to the public, clients, government and other interested groups
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Nights, weekends, holidays occasionally
Geoscientists typically work full time, with regularly scheduled reports and testing in an office or lab environment. Fieldwork takes place outside in various conditions, including hiking to desolate locations and excursions on watercraft.
Field studies can also require a large time commitment and extensive travel. Some projects may keep you away from home for months at a time.
Geoscientists do some work alone, but coordinate with a team of other engineers, scientists and technicians to complete a project.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Bachelor’s degree in geosciences
A bachelor's in geosciences is required for most geoscientist positions, with some employers preferring a master's degree. A master's can further solidify your specialty, such as palaeontology or seismology. Graduates with other physical science or engineering degrees can also be accepted for geoscientist jobs.
If you land a geoscientist job that provides services to the public, such as civil engineering projects or environmental protection, you may need licensure. Check with your state board for their specific requirements. States that require a license use the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) exam.
Geoscientists may begin their careers with a general knowledge of the field and an entry-level position. After you gain work experience, you may find yourself better suited to a specialty like oceanography or geochemistry. Job growth is expected due to growing environmental concerns and the search for alternate fuels.
Advanced degrees can lead to more prestigious and lucrative assignments, including teaching at a university.
You may also use your education and experience to transition to related and potentially lucrative careers like surveyor, petroleum engineer or natural sciences manager.