Careers in Geology
Careers in Geology vary from locating minerals and other resources to the study and predictions of man-made and natural environmental hazards. Below are some careers that can be pursued with a degree in Geology with several different levels of education and concentration. Each career is linked to a more extended description. If you are interested in the outlook for careers in the geosciences, try the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can also visit the St. Thomas Career Services web site; it is loaded with good information to help you in your career search. Check out our handout, What can you do with a Geology degree? 2017 for a concise summary of the kinds of jobs you can do with your Geology degree from UST, and the current market outlook for geoscientists.
Careers by field:
Environmental consultants work on a range of environmental issues. Predominantly they work to guide their clients through the wide array of environmental regulations that accompany any new constructions project or other developments that effect land use and the environment. Some of the specific tasks that environmental consultants engage in include:
- Ground and surface water testing and monitoring
- Contributing to environmental impact assessments and statements
- Soil testing for contaminants
- Analyzing archeological sites
- Slope stability analysis for engineering projects
- Seismic (earthquake) risk assessment
- Flood analysis and prediction
- Geophysical site surveys
- Historical air photo analysis
Employers in geological engineering include large oil companies, hundreds of private exploration and service companies, government agencies, independent consultants and oil field services. This wide range of employers means there is a wide range of job descriptions in geological engineering including:
- Petroleum engineering
- Reservoir engineering
- Mining engineering
- Geotechnical engineering
Jobs range from designing a mine shaft for mineral retrieval to designing plans for injecting chemicals, water, or steam into an oil reservoir to recover more crude.
Here is a list of websites related to Geological Engineering:
Besides teaching students and conducting formal teaching responsibilities, most environmental educators at the college level work on projects on the side. These projects include writing grant proposals, books, and articles on their research topics and leading field studies.
Environmental educators are generally more hands-on and are starting to use more active-learning techniques in the classroom to connect with students at every level or learning style.
Check out the following websites for more information:
Environmental Law focuses on the application and interpretation of enviromental laws and public policy. Environmental lawyers conduct research, analyze data, and mointor enviromental issues closely. Work is done with local, state, and federal goverments, as well as through private law firms and non-profit organizations. A background in Geology provides the environmental lawyer with the scientific training to allow him or her to understand issues in greater depth.
Students majoring in geology can also be pre-med. How is this possible? Medical schools only have 8 course requirements for admission:
- 2 semesters of general chemistry
- 2 semesters of organic chemistry
- 2 semesters of biology
- 2 semesters of physics
These courses satisfy the allied science requirements for the geology major. Medical school does not require a degree in biology or chemistry like most people think. A major in geology can set you apart from other pre-med students and will not hinder your chances of getting into a program.
Public policy positions may deal with a wide range of environmental or geological issues, such as:
- Mining policy
- Ground and surface water quality
- Oil and gas extraction and energy policy
- Nuclear waste storage and transport
- Coastal and marine pollution issues
- Landfills and waste
- Public lands policy
- Conservation and environmental quality issues
These issues are mainly dealt with by lobbyists and legislative staff. Non-profit organizations also make use of policy specialists that emphasize the earth sciences in their work.
The job of a mining geologist varies, depending on the assignment.
Jobs in large, open-pit mines usually ask for geological information that helps with the production of minerals through the life of the mine. Providing assistance on environmental issues that may effect the mine is important also. Mining geologists gather and interpret a lot of geologic data by mapping and drilling and then applying the information towards a model of the mining area.
Other projects that mining geologists are involved in include creation of geologic block models, long-range planning, viewing cuttings from boreholes, mine reclamation projects, and research.
Here is a list of related websites:
Research positions are available in academia, industry, and government agencies at the local, state and federal levels. Positions may involve primary lab work, field work, experimental work, or a combination of all three.
Work in the world of volcanology is always changing because of the many different kinds of volcanos in many types of environments. Work in volcanology often includes:
- Study of volcanic mineral deposits
- Study ash, lava and other volcanic products that may help us to understand and/or predict volcanic eruptions
- Study the mechanisms of volcanic activity
- Conduct tests on the gases produced by volcanos
- Participating in emergency response teams
Most volcanology fieldwork requires more than a 4-year degree. Assistant and tech work is available for people with undergraduate degrees. Most employers require a master's or Ph.D. degree.
Paleontology incorporates all of the sciences to understand the processes that have led to the origin and destruction of all types of organisms. Some areas of focus might include:
- Plate tectonic effects on evolution
- Constraining the geologic timescale
- Illuminating processes of evolution
- Understanding ancient life
Fieldwork is a key component of the undergraduate geology major. It gives students an opportunity to learn with “book concepts” in a hands-on way. Depending on the focus, graduate study and a career in the geosciences may or may not involve fieldwork.
Geochemists study the elements and atomic species in the Earth, the migration and distribution of these elements in various parts of the Earth, and the ability of rocks and minerals to adsorb or release harmful compounds.
Petrology is the study of the chemical and mineralogical composition of rocks and their classification. Petrology and geochemistry are strongly aligned. Petrologists might be involved in field mapping projects, analysis of groundwater/rock interactions, petroleum and mineral exploration and extraction, or environmental impact analysis.
Here is a list of related websites:
Geophysicists study many physical aspects of the earth using aeromagnetic, seismic, gravity, heat flow, and other data. Some specialties in geophysics include physical oceanography, seismology and meteorology. Work in geophysics also helps to solve problems associated with the construction of dams, highways, large buildings, tunnels, and issues dealing with mining and petroleum companies