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Become A Geoscientist

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Working As A Geoscientist

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

    Average Salary

What Does A Geoscientist 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 Geoscientist

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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Geoscientist Career Paths

Geoscientist
Geologist Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Geologist Project Manager General Manager
Operations Vice President
11 Yearsyrs
Geologist Project Manager Senior Manager
Senior Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Geophysicist Consultant Operations Manager
Operations Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Geophysicist Consultant Program Manager
Deputy Director
9 Yearsyrs
Geophysicist Consultant Senior Manager
Associate Director
8 Yearsyrs
Exploration Geologist Project Geologist
Senior Geologist
10 Yearsyrs
Exploration Geologist Staff Geologist Environmental Scientist
Senior Environmental Scientist
9 Yearsyrs
Exploration Geologist Staff Geologist Hydrogeologist
Senior Hydrogeologist
10 Yearsyrs
Environmental Scientist Environmental Engineer
Environmental Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Environmental Scientist Senior Project Manager Operations Director
Chief Of Operations
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Geologist Project Geologist Environmental Consultant
HSE Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Development Geologist Senior Geologist President
Chief Science Officer
10 Yearsyrs
Field Geologist Field Engineer Senior Field Engineer
Field Operation Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Field Geologist Field Engineer Project Field Engineer
Project And Field Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Operations Manager Operations Project Manager
Senior Operations Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Clinical Research Coordinator
Data Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Clinical Research Coordinator Clinical Data Manager
Data Management Manager
10 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Geoscientist?

Geoscientist Demographics

Gender

Male

64.8%

Female

23.6%

Unknown

11.6%
Ethnicity

White

55.8%

Hispanic or Latino

16.9%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

10.8%

Unknown

5.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

30.8%

Chinese

15.4%

Hindi

7.7%

Telugu

7.7%

German

7.7%

French

7.7%

Bengali

7.7%

Mandarin

7.7%

Italian

7.7%
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Geoscientist Education

Schools

University of Houston

13.9%

University of Texas at Austin

13.9%

Texas A&M University

8.7%

University of Oklahoma

7.8%

Colorado School of Mines

6.1%

University of Tulsa

5.2%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

5.2%

Wichita State University

4.3%

Michigan Technological University

3.5%

Missouri University of Science and Technology

3.5%

Pennsylvania State University

3.5%

University of Pittsburgh -

3.5%

Rice University

2.6%

University of Memphis

2.6%

West Virginia University

2.6%

Sul Ross State University

2.6%

Texas Tech University

2.6%

University of Colorado at Boulder

2.6%

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

2.6%

New Mexico State University

2.6%
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Majors

Geology

72.2%

Geological Engineering

5.7%

Environmental Science

4.1%

Petroleum Engineering

2.8%

Geography

2.2%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.6%

Management

0.9%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

0.9%

Mathematics

0.9%

Mechanical Engineering

0.9%

Engineering

0.9%

Computer Science

0.9%

Business

0.9%

Computer Information Systems

0.9%

Sociology

0.6%

Biology

0.6%

Soil Science

0.6%

Finance

0.6%

Sustainability

0.6%

Law

0.6%
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Degrees

Masters

44.4%

Bachelors

35.0%

Doctorate

13.8%

Other

4.7%

Associate

0.9%

Certificate

0.6%

Diploma

0.6%
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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
Cheyenne, WY
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
3.4 years
How much does a Geoscientist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Geoscientist in the United States is $81,493 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 Geoscientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Exploration New Ventures Geoscientist Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Nov 18, 2013 $229,707
Regional Senior Staff Exploration Geoscientist Murphy Exploration & Production Co. Houston, TX Dec 08, 2014 $228,800
Regional Senior Staff Exploration Geoscientist Murphy Exploration & Production Co. Houston, TX Jun 18, 2015 $228,800
Senior Exploration New Ventures Geoscientist Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Oct 24, 2015 $212,011
Exploration Geoscientist Broken Hill Proprietary (USA) Inc. Houston, TX Aug 27, 2015 $205,525
Lead Geoscientist Cegal LLC Houston, TX Dec 21, 2016 $200,686
Geoscientist-Petrophysics BP America Inc. Anchorage, AK Aug 01, 2014 $186,700
Senior Geoscientist Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX Sep 22, 2015 $167,523 -
$257,800
Senior Geoscientist NEOS, Inc. Houston, TX Jun 01, 2015 $160,000
Senior Geoscientist Exxon Mobil Corporation Spring, TX Mar 01, 2016 $159,806 -
$163,000
Geoscientist II Pioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc. Irving, TX Dec 22, 2015 $154,000
Exploration Geoscientist, Latin America Onshore EX Shell Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Jul 21, 2013 $149,600
Staff Geoscientist Conocophillips Company Houston, TX Sep 19, 2015 $149,120 -
$223,680
Senior Geoscientist IKON Science Americas, Inc. Houston, TX Apr 01, 2014 $124,238 -
$152,000
Earth Modeling Geoscientist Schlumberger Technology Corporation Houston, TX Sep 17, 2016 $120,182 -
$122,000
Geoscientist Senior Newmont International Services Limited Englewood, CO Jan 06, 2016 $120,000 -
$140,000
Geoscientist-Petrophysicist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Sep 01, 2015 $120,000
Geoscientist-Geomechanics Specialist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Sep 01, 2015 $120,000
Geoscientist-Geophysicist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Sep 01, 2015 $119,000
Geoscientist-Petrophysicist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Sep 01, 2015 $119,000
Geoscientist-Geophysicist BP America Inc. Anchorage, AK Sep 01, 2015 $119,000
Geoscientist IV Baker Hughes Incorporated Midland, TX May 14, 2015 $102,334
Earth Modeling Geoscientist Schlumberger Technology Corporation Houston, TX Oct 01, 2015 $100,100
Geoscientist Baker Hughes Incorporated Houston, TX Sep 13, 2013 $100,000
Geoscientist IV Baker Hughes Incorporated Midland, TX Sep 09, 2014 $99,354
Geoscientist Baker Hughes Incorporated Houston, TX Sep 23, 2014 $98,000
Geoscientist Baker Hughes Incorporated Houston, TX Sep 13, 2014 $98,000
Computational Geoscientist Drillinginfo, Inc. Littleton, CO Aug 26, 2013 $95,000

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Top Skills for A Geoscientist

  1. Reservoir Characterization
  2. Seismic Data
  3. ENI
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed Reservoir characterization using detail seismic attributes including AVO analysis for horizontal drilling and reservoir fracturing.
  • Implemented seismic data management projects at Burlington Resources.
  • Resolved issues at 90%+ rate by carefully listening to customers to identify root cause and apply appropriate solutions.
  • Provided oversight and conducted confirmation soil and groundwater sampling during underground storage tank removal activities.
  • Supplied geoscience support for field development, new prospect generation, reservoir analysis and log interpretation.

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Top 10 Best States for Geoscientists

  1. Texas
  2. Louisiana
  3. Alaska
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Hawaii
  6. New Hampshire
  7. California
  8. Montana
  9. District of Columbia
  10. Colorado
  • (46 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (33 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)

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