November 2, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
American Institute of Professional Geologists
Christine Lilek: -BS in Environmental Engineering, Geology, Hydrogeology; MS is a plus or equivalent experience.
-G.I.T. (Geologist In Training) or Early Career Professional (from AIPG) is desirable; CPG (from AIPG) or -State PG, or ability to obtain such credential is a plus.
-Excellent computer skills with MS Office, MS Project, PowerPoint, and other computer applications, GIS, and AutoCAD experience are a plus.
-OSHA 40-hour HAZWOPER certification is desirable
-Documentation of environmental sustainability projects
-Documentation of diversity and inclusion policy implementation
Christine Lilek: -Ability to build strong relationships with partners and clients concerning their technical area and the broader business objectives.
-Ability to communicate technical information with clients, engineers and scientists, government regulators and agencies, and academia, as well as non-technical communication to the public.
-Ability to build and maintain productive professional and personal networking relationships.
-Ability to interact professionally with a client and subcontractor representatives.
-Ability to understand and follow all applicable health and safety policies and procedures.
-Ability to understand and follow all established industry standards, policies, procedures, and guidelines to complete projects.
Christine Lilek: -List all your field sampling techniques you have practiced (groundwater and surface water sampling, wastewater sampling, solid/hazardous waste sampling, sediment sampling, soil sampling, soil vapor sampling, air sampling, environmental drilling and logging, and windshield surveys).
-List the various environmental and engineering permits and regulatory compliance reporting documents you have completed for class or as an intern (air permits, stormwater, and wastewater permits, air emissions inventories, hazardous material inventories, and toxic release inventories)
-List the various office tasks you have practiced or completed as an intern (reviewing environmental regulations and guidance documents; reviewing requests for proposals and professional qualifications; tabulating and interpreting environmental and engineering data; preparing cost estimates, proposals, and technical memorandums; and communicating with project managers and support team on project progress).
Christine Lilek: -Demonstrate initiatives and projects you have completed by collaborating with teams. Team leadership skills are highly desirable. Being able to self-motivate and complete an individual project is also very important.
-Demonstrate and be able to provide examples of successful presentations and proposals provided to clients and regulators.
-Demonstrate your ability to travel and successfully work at remote project sites, including an extended assignment.
-Demonstrate strong and clear communication, writing, time management, and organizational skills.
-Demonstrate good problem-solving skills and willingness to respond to instruction.
The University of Memphis
Department of Earth Sciences
Daniel Larsen: The job market in our region is soft in geology, but recent graduates have found employment at government agencies (state environmental divisions, and state and federal surveys) and environmental and engineering consulting firms. I expect these trends to continue. Energy and mineral industries are conducting little hiring in our region, and I expect this trend to continue during pandemic and under the current federal administration.
Daniel Larsen: Expectations for geology job candidates include traditional geologic training as well as environmental and hydrogeology background, and skills using GIS, spatial analysis, spreadsheet and some modeling programs, depending on disciple of hiring. State licensure and GIS and OSHA certifications are desirable.
Daniel Larsen: At the Bachelors level, typical entry-level jobs include environmental technicians and specialists (state environmental divisions), and mud loggers in the petroleum industry. At the Masters level, typical jobs include entry-level environmental project managers or support staff, higher level technical staff at state environmental divisions, and entry-level state and federal survey positions, as well as mud loggers and entry-level positions in the petroleum industry.
Dr. David Malone Ph.D.: I assume that you mean the job market for Geology? Oil and gas are in terrible shape. Even the big companies are enduring a great many layoffs. Minerals, and in particular gold, are getting hotter. I have had a number of companies ask about interns and permanent positions of our students. Construction (geotechnical) and environmental consulting companies are doing really well.
Dr. David Malone Ph.D.: Most entry-level Geology positions don't require special certification or licenses. The Certified Professional Geologist license comes further down the road after some experience is gained. This is most important to environmental consulting companies.
Dr. David Malone Ph.D.: Any job is a good job out of college! Geology is broad enough, and our graduates are highly sought enough, that puts us in the favorable position of having more leads than students to pursue them. Most folks would prefer to begin with a couple of years far from Illinois that requires a fair amount of field work and travel. This is not universal. Some folks prefer to stay in Illinois and work from a desk or lab. About half of our graduates go on to graduate school for further specialization when they finish up here.
Peter Clift: A significant reduction in opportunities within oil and gas.
Peter Clift: I think that having a broad-based education may be more important so that you can be more adaptable to the various different opportunities. Less specialized broad-based geological education is likely to increase your employability across a wide range of alternative careers. I still think that higher degrees such as Masters or PhD may be useful in sharing your usefulness to a potential employer with advances in environmental consulting, mining geology or in the overlap between engineering and geology. I think anyone planning a career in the geosciences probably needs to be thinking at least about taking a Masters degree.
Peter Clift: Over the coming years I could see that engineering geology including coastal engineering and river management may become more important to geoscience graduates with an increasing interest in carbon capture rather than in the traditional oil industry. Environmental geology is likely to remain strong and increasing field as well.
George Washington University
Geological Sciences Program
Richard Tollo Ph.D.: Yes, very much. Courses that normally involve field studies and work with specimens of rocks and minerals, all staples of standard geology curriculum, have been curtailed, limited to online-only, or cancelled. Graduates will not have the normal background upon gradation.
Richard Tollo Ph.D.: Not much different except for social distancing, as necessary.
Richard Tollo Ph.D.: For geology, scientific reasoning, problem solving, and the ability to communicate are highly desired by employers.