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Become A Geophysicist

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Working As A Geophysicist

  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Processing Information
  • $81,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Geophysicist 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 Geophysicist

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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Geophysicist Jobs

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Geophysicist Career Paths

Geophysicist
Consultant Information Technology Manager
Senior Information Technology Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Software Engineer Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Geologist Project Geologist
Senior Geologist
10 Yearsyrs
Geologist Project Manager Co-Founder
Chief Technology Officer & Founder
9 Yearsyrs
Geologist Hydrogeologist
Senior Hydrogeologist
10 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Supervisor Superintendent
Project And Field Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Operations Manager Operations Project Manager
Senior Operations Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Manager Information Technology Manager
Application Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Analyst Business Analyst Senior Data Analyst-
Data Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Analyst Project Manager Project Director
Manager, Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Analyst Manager President
Chief Science Officer
10 Yearsyrs
Project Leader Technical Manager Technical Support Manager
Technical Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Leader Technical Manager
Chief Technologist
7 Yearsyrs
Project Leader Manager Applications Development Data Manager
Data Management Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Advisor Senior Operations Manager Head Operator
Head Of Business Development
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Technician Specialist Senior Systems Engineer Senior Applications Engineer
Marketing And Technology Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Staff Scientist GIS Specialist
GIS Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Geologist Environmental Scientist GIS Analyst
GIS Project Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Geophysicist?

Geophysicist Demographics

Gender

Male

70.2%

Female

18.4%

Unknown

11.4%
Ethnicity

White

49.3%

Hispanic or Latino

16.7%

Asian

15.2%

Black or African American

10.6%

Unknown

8.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

29.0%

French

11.0%

Russian

10.0%

Arabic

9.0%

Chinese

8.0%

Portuguese

5.0%

Japanese

5.0%

Mandarin

3.0%

Norwegian

3.0%

German

3.0%

Hungarian

2.0%

Thai

2.0%

Amharic

2.0%

Polish

2.0%

Dutch

1.0%

Blackfoot

1.0%

Indonesian

1.0%

Armenian

1.0%

Croatian

1.0%

Kazakh

1.0%
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Geophysicist Education

Schools

University of Houston

22.9%

Texas A&M University

11.9%

Colorado School of Mines

11.4%

University of Texas at Austin

9.5%

University of Oklahoma

4.8%

Rice University

4.0%

Missouri University of Science and Technology

3.3%

University of Wyoming

3.3%

University of Texas at El Paso

3.3%

University of Texas at Dallas

3.1%

University of Utah

3.1%

Wright State University

2.4%

Oklahoma State University

2.4%

Michigan Technological University

2.1%

University of Tulsa

2.1%

University of Colorado at Boulder

2.1%

Cairn University

2.1%

Stanford University

2.1%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

1.9%

Purdue University

1.9%
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Majors

Geology

69.5%

Geological Engineering

8.9%

Physics

4.7%

Mathematics

3.3%

Petroleum Engineering

1.7%

Computer Science

1.6%

Business

1.5%

Finance

1.0%

Management

0.9%

Engineering

0.9%

Environmental Science

0.9%

Civil Engineering

0.8%

Education

0.7%

Mining Engineering

0.6%

Mechanical Engineering

0.6%

Elementary Education

0.5%

Chemistry

0.5%

Project Management

0.5%

Meteorology

0.5%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

0.4%
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Degrees

Masters

39.9%

Bachelors

32.0%

Doctorate

15.3%

Other

10.0%

Diploma

1.2%

Certificate

1.1%

Associate

0.5%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$81,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$38,000
Min 10%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$172,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Exxon Mobil
Highest Paying City
Grand Forks, ND
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
5.6 years
How much does a Geophysicist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Geophysicist in the United States is $81,378 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $38,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $172,000.

Real Geophysicist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Geophysicist Downunder Geosolutions (America) LLC Houston, TX Jun 09, 2016 $241,672
Senior Geophysicist Kosmos Energy, LLC Dallas, TX Sep 30, 2015 $241,096
Staff Geophysicist Shell Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Jan 07, 2016 $236,800
Staff Production Geophysicist Shell Exploration and Production Company New Orleans, LA Oct 09, 2016 $224,200
Senior Exploration Geophysicist Cobalt International Energy, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 02, 2016 $223,510
Senior Geophysicist Kosmos Energy, LLC Dallas, TX Jan 19, 2016 $220,000 -
$245,000
SR. Staff Geophysicist, International Exploration Murphy Exploration & Production Co. Houston, TX Jun 25, 2015 $220,000
Senior Geophysicist Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Oct 28, 2016 $210,607
Geophysicist Tricon Geophysics, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 03, 2015 $205,525
Senior Geophysicist Broken Hill Proprietary (USA) Inc. Houston, TX Feb 11, 2015 $201,844
Staff Prrocessing Geophysicist Conocophillips Company Houston, TX Jun 26, 2015 $195,686
Geophysicist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Jun 02, 2015 $190,500
Senior Advising Geophysicist I TGS-Nopec Geophysical Company Houston, TX Feb 21, 2015 $190,021
Research Geophysicist Exxonmobil Upstream Research Company Spring, TX Jun 15, 2016 $174,400 -
$296,600
Geophysicist Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Aug 27, 2015 $129,500
Geophysicist Shell Exploration and Production Company New Orleans, LA Aug 25, 2016 $128,500
Processing Geophysicist Shell Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Aug 03, 2015 $128,500
Geophysicist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Jan 05, 2016 $128,000
Exploration Geophysicists Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Mar 10, 2015 $127,500 -
$216,700
Exploration Geophysicists Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Dec 21, 2015 $127,500 -
$216,700
Exploration Geophysicists Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Aug 28, 2015 $127,500 -
$216,700
Geophysicist Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Aug 16, 2015 $127,000
Geosolutions Geophysicist Senior SE 2-DP Schlumberger Technology Corporation Houston, TX Jun 15, 2016 $111,800
Rock Properties and Reservoir Geophysicist Noble Energy Inc. Houston, TX Feb 04, 2015 $111,717
Quality Assurance (QA) Geophysicist Spectrum Geo Houston, TX Oct 21, 2015 $110,926
Quality Assurance (QA) Geophysicist Spectrum Geo Houston, TX Apr 29, 2015 $110,926
Senior Geophysicists Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX May 10, 2015 $110,800 -
$151,200
Advanced Interpretation Geophysicist II TGS-Nopec Geophysical Company Houston, TX Jan 26, 2015 $110,000
Research Geophysicist Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Sep 16, 2015 $110,000 -
$120,000

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Top Skills for A Geophysicist

  1. Seismic Data
  2. Geophysical Data
  3. Depth Conversion
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Processed seismic data using Focus and seismic data service
  • Participate in the designing and programming of computer software required in processing geophysical data.
  • Generate velocity and time depth conversions, integrating geologic data to deliver depth and elevation contoured structure maps.
  • Standardized divisional best practices for reservoir characterization and enhanced production through reduced technical error.
  • Provided AVO, seismic inversion and rock physics modeling to estimate properties and size of the Hadrian 2 gas reservoir.

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Top 10 Best States for Geophysicists

  1. Texas
  2. Louisiana
  3. District of Columbia
  4. California
  5. Oklahoma
  6. New Jersey
  7. Nevada
  8. Hawaii
  9. Colorado
  10. New Hampshire
  • (50 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)

Top Geophysicist Employers

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Jobs From Top Geophysicist Employers

Geophysicist Videos

Geophysics: Lecture 3. Petroleum, generation and migration

Geophysics Seismic Processing Basic

Introduction and scope of Geophysics and Applied Geophysics.

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