Job Opportunities in Geology
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 many subgroups of geologists, such as:
- Geochemists and hydrologists 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.
- Seismologists study earthquakes and related phenomena, such as tsunamis. They use seismographs and other instruments to collect data on these events.
- 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 to trace the evolution of plant and animal life and the geologic history of the Earth. Exploration geologists explore the Earth for important minerals, industrial rocks, hydrocarbons. 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.
Exploration geologists explore the Earth for important minerals, industrial rocks, hydrocarbons. 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.
Geoscientists held about 31,800 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of geoscientists were as follows:
- Architectural, engineering, and related services 26%
- Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 21%
- Federal government, excluding postal service 7%
- State government, excluding education and hospitals 7%
- Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 6%
- Communication skills. Geoscientists write reports and research papers. They must be able to present their findings clearly to other scientists and team members as well as 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.
- 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
Geologists are licensed in 31 states, including Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Although a license is not required to work as a geologist in many cases, geologists that offer services to the public in these states must be licensed. Public services include activities such as those associated with civil engineering projects, environmental protection, and regulatory compliance. Applicants must meet minimum education and experience requirements and earn a passing score on an exam. All states that license geologists use the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG), Fundamentals of Geology Exam (FGE).
Projected Employment Trends
- Employment of geoscientists is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. The need for energy, environmental protection, and responsible land and resource management is projected to spur demand for geoscientists.
- Employment of geoscientists in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry, where most of them work, is projected to rise modestly. This increase will offset slower growth in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry, the second-largest employer of geoscientists.
- Geoscientists will be involved in discovering and developing sites for alternative energies, such as geothermal energy and wind energy. For example, geothermal energy plants must be located near sufficient hot ground water, and one task for geoscientists would be evaluating if the site is suitable.