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Become A Geological Specialist

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Working As A Geological Specialist

  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Processing Information
  • $80,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Geological Specialist Do

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth, such as its composition, structure, and processes, to learn about its past, present, and future.

Duties

Geoscientists typically do the following:

  • Plan and carry out field studies, in which they visit locations to collect samples and conduct surveys
  • Analyze aerial photographs, well logs (detailed records of geologic formations found during drilling), rock samples, and other data sources to locate deposits of natural resources and estimate their size
  • Conduct laboratory tests on samples collected in the field
  • Make geologic maps and charts
  • Prepare written scientific reports
  • Present their findings to clients, colleagues, and other interested parties
  • Review reports and research done by other scientists

Geoscientists use a wide variety of tools, both simple and complex. During a typical day in the field, they may use a hammer and chisel to collect rock samples and then use ground-penetrating radar equipment to search for oil or minerals. In laboratories, they may use x rays and electron microscopes to determine the chemical and physical composition of rock samples. They may also use remote sensing equipment to collect data, as well as geographic information systems (GIS) and modeling software to analyze the data collected.

Geoscientists often supervise the work of technicians and coordinate work with other scientists, both in the field and in the lab.

Many geoscientists are involved in the search for and development of natural resources, such as petroleum. Others work in environmental protection and preservation, and are involved in projects to clean up and reclaim land. Some specialize in a particular aspect of the Earth, such as its oceans.

The following are examples of types of geoscientists:

Engineering geologists apply geologic principles to civil and environmental engineering. They offer advice on major construction projects and help with other projects, such as environmental cleanup and reducing natural hazards.

Geologists study the materials, processes, and history of the Earth. They investigate how rocks were formed and what has happened to them since their formation. There are subgroups of geologists as well, such as stratigraphers, who study stratified rock, and mineralogists, who study the structure and composition of minerals.

Geochemists use physical and organic chemistry to study the composition of elements found in ground water, such as water from wells or aquifers, and of earth materials, such as rocks and sediment.

Geophysicists use the principles of physics to learn about the Earth’s surface and interior. They also study the properties of Earth’s magnetic, electric, and gravitational fields.

Oceanographers study the motion and circulation of ocean waters; the physical and chemical properties of the oceans; and how these properties affect coastal areas, climate, and weather.

Paleontologists study fossils found in geological formations in order to trace the evolution of plant and animal life and the geologic history of the Earth.

Petroleum geologists explore the Earth for oil and gas deposits. They analyze geological information to identify sites that should be explored. They collect rock and sediment samples from sites through drilling and other methods and test the samples for the presence of oil and gas. They also estimate the size of oil and gas deposits and work to develop sites to extract oil and gas.

Seismologists study earthquakes and related phenomena, such as tsunamis. They use seismographs and other instruments to collect data on these events.

For a more extensive list of geoscientist specialties, visit the American Geosciences Institute.

People with a geoscience background may become postsecondary teachers.

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How To Become A Geological Specialist

Geoscientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree for most entry-level positions. In several states, geoscientists may need a license to offer their services to the public.

Education

Geoscientists need at least a bachelor’s degree for most entry-level positions. However, some workers begin their careers as geoscientists with a master’s degree. A Ph.D. is necessary for most basic research and college teaching positions.

A degree in geoscience is preferred by employers, although a degree in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, engineering, or computer science usually is accepted if it includes coursework in geology.

Most geoscience programs include geology courses in mineralogy, petrology, and structural geology, which are important for all geoscientists. In addition to classes in geology, most programs require students to take courses in other physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computer science. Some programs include training on specific software packages that will be useful to those seeking a career as a geoscientist.

Computer knowledge is essential for geoscientists. Students who have experience with computer modeling, data analysis, and digital mapping will be the most prepared to enter the job market.

Many employers seek applicants who have gained field and laboratory experience while pursuing a degree. Summer field camp programs offer students the opportunity to work closely with professors and apply their classroom knowledge in the field. Students can gain valuable experience in data collection and geologic mapping.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Geoscientists write reports and research papers. They must be able to present their findings clearly to clients or professionals who do not have a background in geoscience.

Critical-thinking skills. Geoscientists base their findings on sound observation and careful evaluation of data.

Interpersonal skills. Most geoscientists work as part of a team with engineers, technicians, and other scientists.

Outdoor skills. Geoscientists may spend significant amounts of time outdoors. Familiarity with camping skills, general comfort being outside for long periods, and specific skills such as boat handling or even being able to pilot an aircraft could prove useful for geoscientists.

Physical stamina. Geoscientists may need to hike to remote locations while carrying testing and sampling equipment when they conduct fieldwork.

Problem-solving skills. Geoscientists work on complex projects filled with challenges. Evaluating statistical data and other forms of information in order to make judgments and inform the actions of other workers requires a special ability to perceive and address problems.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require geoscientists to obtain a license to practice. Requirements vary by state but typically include minimum education and experience requirements and a passing score on an exam.

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Highest Geological Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Geology Specialist Statoil Gulf Services LLC Houston, TX Sep 03, 2014 $171,250
Staff Geological Specialists Arcadis U.S., Inc. San Jose, CA Sep 28, 2013 $72,072
Geological Specialist Metalist LLC Houston, TX Nov 07, 2016 $41,844
Geologic Specialist University of Illinois Champaign, IL Jun 01, 2010 $36,000

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Geological Specialist Demographics

Gender

Male

63.9%

Female

25.0%

Unknown

11.1%
Ethnicity

White

69.1%

Hispanic or Latino

13.0%

Black or African American

9.8%

Unknown

4.4%

Asian

3.6%
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Geological Specialist Education

Schools

University of Texas at Arlington

7.7%

Salve Regina University

7.7%

Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania

7.7%

California University of Pennsylvania

7.7%

Metropolitan State University of Denver

7.7%

Kent State University

7.7%

Western Illinois University

3.8%

University of Colorado at Boulder

3.8%

Purdue University

3.8%

University of Nevada - Reno

3.8%

Colorado Heights University

3.8%

Indiana University Bloomington

3.8%

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

3.8%

Indiana Institute of Technology

3.8%

Colorado School of Mines

3.8%

Tulane University

3.8%

University of Texas at Austin

3.8%

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

3.8%

University of California - Riverside

3.8%

John F Kennedy University

3.8%
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Majors

Geology

54.5%

Geological Engineering

6.8%

International Relations

4.5%

Natural Resources Management

4.5%

Engineering

4.5%

Psychology

2.3%

Business

2.3%

Systems Science And Theory

2.3%

Environmental Science

2.3%

Secondary Education And Teaching

2.3%

Spanish Language

2.3%

Mining Engineering

2.3%

Criminal Justice

2.3%

Political Science

2.3%

Counseling Psychology

2.3%

Human Resources Management

2.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

40.9%

Masters

36.4%

Other

9.1%

Doctorate

9.1%

Certificate

2.3%

Diploma

2.3%
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