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Become A Geologist

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Working As A Geologist

  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Processing Information
  • $71,086

    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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Geologist jobs

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Geologist Career Paths

Geologist
Project Manager Program Manager Senior Manager
Associate Director
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Program Director Chairperson
Board Of Directors Member
8 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager General Manager Managing Partner
Co-Owner/Partner
8 Yearsyrs
Project Geologist Project Manager
Construction Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Analyst Chemist Quality Control Manager
Controls Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Geologist Senior Project Manager Program Director
Deputy Director
9 Yearsyrs
Analyst Case Manager Outreach Coordinator
Director Of Outreach
6 Yearsyrs
Scientist Senior Software Engineer Director Of Software Development
Director Of Systems Integration
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Technician Specialist Program Coordinator Education Coordinator
Educational Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Environmental Scientist Environmental Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Environmental Specialist Environmental Scientist Environmental Engineer
Environmental Compliance Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Environmental Scientist
Environmental Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Senior Account Executive Regional Manager
Group Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Technician Specialist PRN Medical Technologist
Laboratory Director
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Consultant Senior Consultant
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Staff Geologist Project Manager Senior Project Manager
Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Geologist
10 Yearsyrs
Field Engineer Assistant Superintendent
Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Field Engineer Surveyor
Survey Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Geophysicist Senior Technician Specialist Information Technology Manager
Technical Services Manager
8 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Senior Geologist 5.1 years
Project Geologist 3.5 years
Project Scientist 3.3 years
Research Geologist 3.3 years
Mine Geologist 3.2 years
Staff Geologist 3.0 years
Hydrogeologist 3.0 years
Geologist 3.0 years
Field Geologist 1.9 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 10.2%
Consultant 3.3%
Technician 2.9%
Associate 2.4%
Top Employers After
Consultant 4.9%
Principal 2.0%

Geologist Demographics

Gender

Male

76.4%

Female

21.6%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

79.9%

Hispanic or Latino

8.5%

Asian

7.5%

Unknown

2.8%

Black or African American

1.4%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.0%

French

9.5%

German

6.8%

Russian

4.8%

Dakota

4.8%

Arabic

4.8%

Portuguese

2.7%

Greek

2.0%

Italian

2.0%

Korean

1.4%

Chinese

1.4%

Czech

1.4%

Japanese

1.4%

Amharic

1.4%

Hebrew

1.4%

Turkish

0.7%

Cheyenne

0.7%

Indonesian

0.7%

Ukrainian

0.7%

Lithuanian

0.7%
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Geologist Education

Schools

Oklahoma State University

7.5%

University of Houston

7.3%

Colorado School of Mines

6.9%

Texas A&M University

6.5%

West Virginia University

5.9%

University of Wyoming

5.9%

Pennsylvania State University

5.5%

University of Texas at Austin

5.3%

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

4.9%

University of Idaho

4.9%

University of Colorado at Boulder

4.7%

University of Montana

4.3%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

4.3%

University of Oklahoma

4.3%

Missouri University of Science and Technology

3.7%

University of Texas at El Paso

3.7%

Northern Illinois University

3.7%

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

3.7%

Western Michigan University

3.7%

Western Washington University

3.5%
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Majors

Geology

80.4%

Geological Engineering

4.3%

Environmental Science

2.4%

Business

1.8%

Geography

1.7%

Petroleum Engineering

1.2%

Civil Engineering

0.9%

Mining Engineering

0.9%

Management

0.8%

Chemistry

0.8%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

0.8%

Education

0.6%

Elementary Education

0.6%

Computer Science

0.5%

Project Management

0.5%

Mathematics

0.4%

Biology

0.4%

Finance

0.4%

History

0.4%

Engineering

0.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

50.8%

Masters

34.7%

Other

8.2%

Doctorate

3.1%

Certificate

1.6%

Associate

0.9%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.0%
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Real Geologist Salaries

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

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Top Skills for A Geologist

GeologicalReportsWaterSamplesSafetyPlansTechnicalSupportReservoirPetroleumOversightGeologicalDataWellsiteResourceGISAdditionalDataCollectionGPSSuperviseMudLogsDrillCuttingsArcgisSeismicData3DSeismic

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Top Geologist Skills

  1. Geological Reports
  2. Water Samples
  3. Safety Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Generated geological reports, logs, show reports, geological prognoses and geological formation top picks.
  • Collect water samples and flow data Job Designation: Core Logging Supervisor Core Responsibilities: 1.)
  • Prepared and implemented Health and Safety plans.
  • Managed a staff of geologic professionals and Reno office technical support employees.
  • Presented updated version to a multidisciplinary group, including reservoir engineers for analysis of field development uncertainties.

Top Geologist Employers

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