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Working As A Geologist

  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Processing Information
  • $109,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Geologist 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 Geologist

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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Average Yearly Salary
$109,000
Show Salaries
$72,000
Min 10%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$164,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Exxon Mobil
Highest Paying City
The Woodlands, TX
Highest Paying State
Pennsylvania
Avg Experience Level
3.5 years
How much does a Geologist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Geologist in the United States is $109,259 per year or $53 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $72,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $164,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Geologist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Geologist Surge Operating LLC Sep 24, 2016 $250,000
Geologist Shell Exploration and Production Company Sep 12, 2015 $198,400
Geologist Chevron Corporation Dec 09, 2016 $169,900
Geologist BP America Inc. Sep 01, 2015 $161,800
New Ventures Geologist Murphy Exploration and Production Company Oct 01, 2015 $158,550
New Ventures Geologist Murphy Exploration & Production Co. Feb 24, 2015 $158,550
Structural Geologist Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Mar 21, 2016 $153,800
Structural Geologist Shell Exploration and Production Company Aug 29, 2016 $153,800
Geologist (Auditor) BP America Inc. Feb 01, 2015 $151,471
Geologist Broken Hill Proprietary (USA), Inc. Nov 02, 2016 $150,000
Chief Geologist SW Tech Corporation Jan 09, 2016 $150,000
Geologist Shell Oil Company May 10, 2015 $143,700
Geologist II Marathon Oil Company Aug 09, 2016 $142,100
Geologist BP America Inc. Jan 10, 2015 $123,600
Geologist BP America Inc. Oct 01, 2015 $123,600
Geologist Conocophillips Company Aug 18, 2015 $123,384 -
$131,016
Geologist Conocophillips Company Jul 01, 2015 $123,384 -
$131,016
Geologist Shell Oil Company Dec 21, 2015 $121,400
Geologist BP America Inc. Aug 30, 2016 $120,182 -
$183,752
Geologist II Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Sep 23, 2015 $120,170
Geologist Noble Energy, Inc. Aug 08, 2015 $106,000
Geologist Lhoist North America, Inc. Sep 29, 2015 $105,000 -
$130,000
Geologist I Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Aug 25, 2015 $102,743 -
$116,979
Structural Geologist Newmont USA Limited Oct 03, 2016 $101,837 -
$107,120
Geologist Weatherford International, LLC Jun 22, 2015 $100,245 -
$110,245
Geologist II Core Laboratories LP Sep 13, 2016 $100,000
Geologist II Core Laboratories LP Sep 16, 2015 $100,000

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Top Skills for A Geologist

  1. Geological Reports
  2. Water Samples
  3. Safety Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Combine reservoir analysis, log interpretation and evaluation, historical production records and geological reports to determine behind pipe potential.
  • Collected soil and water samples for laboratory analysis.
  • Develop and implement site-specific environmental health and safety plans and serve as site safety officer.
  • Interpret geologic data and prepare computerized and hand generated geologic maps, quality estimates and tonnage estimates.
  • Coordinate with mine operations providing underground technical support (interpretation and recognition of geological anomalies & roof control).

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Geologists

  1. Mississippi
  2. New Mexico
  3. Texas
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. Louisiana
  6. Florida
  7. Virginia
  8. New Jersey
  9. Georgia
  10. Tennessee
  • (3 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (30 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (10 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)

Geologist Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 5,987 Geologist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Geologist Resume

View Resume Examples

Geologist Demographics

Gender

Male

74.9%

Female

21.4%

Unknown

3.7%
Ethnicity

White

61.9%

Hispanic or Latino

14.4%

Black or African American

10.5%

Asian

8.0%

Unknown

5.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.5%

French

10.3%

German

6.7%

Arabic

5.5%

Russian

4.2%

Dakota

4.2%

Portuguese

2.4%

Greek

1.8%

Italian

1.8%

Chinese

1.8%

Korean

1.2%

Hebrew

1.2%

Indonesian

1.2%

Czech

1.2%

Japanese

1.2%

Amharic

1.2%

Turkish

0.6%

Cheyenne

0.6%

Ukrainian

0.6%

Yoruba

0.6%
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Geologist Education

Schools

Colorado School of Mines

9.3%

Oklahoma State University

7.7%

University of Texas at Austin

7.4%

University of Houston

6.7%

University of Oklahoma

6.0%

University of Texas at Arlington

5.6%

Texas A&M University

5.6%

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

5.1%

University of Colorado at Boulder

4.6%

Western Washington University

4.4%

Pennsylvania State University

4.2%

Western Michigan University

4.2%

University of Arizona

3.9%

University of New Orleans

3.7%

University of Texas at El Paso

3.7%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

3.7%

University of Wyoming

3.7%

Texas Tech University

3.5%

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

3.5%

West Virginia University

3.5%
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Majors

Geology

79.4%

Geological Engineering

5.0%

Environmental Science

3.1%

Geography

1.8%

Petroleum Engineering

1.5%

Business

1.3%

Civil Engineering

1.2%

Mining Engineering

1.1%

Chemistry

0.8%

Management

0.7%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

0.6%

Mathematics

0.6%

Computer Science

0.5%

Engineering

0.5%

Elementary Education

0.5%

Mechanical Engineering

0.4%

Education

0.4%

Finance

0.4%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

0.4%

History

0.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

53.9%

Masters

36.4%

Doctorate

3.6%

Certificate

2.2%

Associate

1.6%

High School Diploma

1.2%

Diploma

1.1%

License

0.1%
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