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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:
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.
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.
Top Careers Before Geoscientist
Top Careers After Geoscientist
Hispanic or Latino9.2%
Black or African American2.0%
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University of Tulsa8.5%
University of Houston8.5%
University of Texas at Austin8.5%
Pennsylvania State University6.8%
Texas A&M University6.8%
Michigan Technological University5.1%
Texas Tech University5.1%
Wichita State University5.1%
University of Louisiana at Lafayette5.1%
West Virginia University5.1%
University of Oklahoma5.1%
University of Florida3.4%
University of Alabama3.4%
Missouri University of Science and Technology3.4%
University of Colorado at Boulder3.4%
University of Akron3.4%
University of Idaho3.4%
New Mexico State University3.4%
University of Pittsburgh -3.4%
California University of Pennsylvania3.4%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Ellington & Associates, Inc.||Houston, TX||Mar 18, 2013||$260,000|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Shell Oil Company||Houston, TX||Apr 24, 2014||$213,600|
|Exploration Geoscientist||Broken Hill Proprietary (USA) Inc.||Houston, TX||Aug 27, 2015||$205,525|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Exxon Mobil Corporation||Houston, TX||Apr 16, 2014||$204,500 -
|Lead Geoscientist||Cegal LLC||Houston, TX||Dec 21, 2016||$200,686|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Statoil Gulf Services LLC||Houston, TX||Apr 23, 2014||$200,000|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||BP America Inc.||Houston, TX||Aug 18, 2014||$195,700 -
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Talisman Energy Services Inc.||The Woodlands, TX||Jul 01, 2014||$195,686 -
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Statoil Gulf Services LLC||Houston, TX||Sep 12, 2014||$195,686|
|Geoscientist-Petrophysics||BP America Inc.||Anchorage, AK||Aug 01, 2014||$186,700|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Exxon Mobil Corporation||Houston, TX||Apr 07, 2014||$177,382 -
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||TGS-Nopec Geophysical Company||Houston, TX||Apr 22, 2014||$177,382|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Broken Hill Proprietary (USA) Inc.||Houston, TX||Mar 03, 2014||$177,382|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||EMGS Americas, Inc.||Houston, TX||May 28, 2014||$177,382|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Chevron Corporation||Houston, TX||Aug 05, 2013||$124,500|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Pioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc.||Irving, TX||Apr 09, 2014||$124,197|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Chevron Corporation||Houston, TX||Jul 15, 2014||$121,400|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Chevron Corporation||San Ramon, CA||Aug 05, 2013||$121,000|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Conocophillips Company||Houston, TX||Jan 03, 2014||$120,588|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Occidental Oil and Gas||Bakersfield, CA||Apr 10, 2014||$120,400|
|Earth Modeling Geoscientist||Schlumberger Technology Corporation||Houston, TX||Sep 17, 2016||$120,182 -
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Shell Oil Company||Houston, TX||Dec 17, 2013||$120,000 -
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Schlumberger Technology Corporation||Canonsburg, PA||Aug 18, 2014||$109,200|
|Geoscientist SR. II||Baker Hughes Incorporated||Houston, TX||Apr 01, 2013||$107,593|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Applied Soil Technology Inc.||Glendale, CA||Jan 29, 2013||$107,557|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Noble Energy Inc.||Houston, TX||Apr 08, 2013||$107,400|
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Geokinetics Inc.||Houston, TX||Aug 19, 2013||$107,200 -
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Hess Corporation||Houston, TX||May 06, 2014||$107,182 -
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Exxon Mobil Corporation||Houston, TX||Aug 21, 2014||$106,100 -
|Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers||Exxon Mobil Corporation||Houston, TX||Aug 14, 2014||$106,100 -
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Careers in Geoscience
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