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Geoscientists Job Description, Career as a Geoscientists, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

field geological positions study

Education and Training: College

Salary: Median- $72,660 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Geoscientists are people who study the composition, structure and other physical aspects of the earth. Some also help to search for natural resources such as petroleum and metals. They analyze the geological past and present of the planet by studying rock compositions on the earth’s crust.

Geoscientists work in several related groups and depending upon their areas of expertise, they are classified into several categories. Some of the categories are:

  • Geologists study evolution by analyzing plant and animal fossils.
  • Geophysicists use principles of physics and mathematics study the earth’s surface as well as its internal composition. They also analyze properties such as gravitational and magnetic forces of the planet.
  • Petroleum geologists study and map subsurface terrain over land and ocean to detect oil and natural gas deposits.
  • Engineering geologists work in tandem with civil engineers and offer their expert advice on major constructions and assist in reducing chances of natural hazards.
  • Sedimentologists, paleontologists and stratigraphers study the nature, origin and distribution of sedimentary rocks and lower strata rocks of Earth. They excavate fossils and rock formations to learn about the evolutionary history and primeval atmosphere of earth.

Geoscientists can also specialize in seismology, oceanography and other related areas. The knowledge of specialized geoscientists is applied in areas such as predicting earthquakes and natural calamities such as volcano eruptions, tsunami and cyclones as well as detecting essential minerals and geographic fault lines.

Education and Training Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in geosciences is adequate for entry-level positions. However, a master’s degree is preferred for research positions in private, federal and state geological surveys. A doctoral degree is essential for high-level research and college teaching positions.

Geoscientists who offer their services directly to the public are required to be licensed. Geoscientists must pass licensing exams to gain licensure. A geoscientist must have good computer skills and be capable of operating sophisticated electronic technology such as Geographic Information Systems, digital mapping and remote sensing. Geoscientists with field experience and knowledge of such technologies are highly desired by employers. Summer internships are often helpful in securing employment at geological survey agencies.

Getting the Job

Federal, state and private geological agencies publish recruitment notices in employment journals and internet portals. Geoscience internships often lead to full-time employment as in the field. Field work experience also allows geoscientists to be hired by number of private and government agencies. Doctoral degree holders in geosciences are eligible to apply for college teaching positions.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Geoscientists start their career in field explorations or as research assistants. As they gain knowledge, they shoulder more responsibilities and are assigned projects of increasing complexity. Geoscientists with high skill levels and lots of experience can be promoted to project leader or senior research positions. Some may even opt for the role of project managers. Geoscientists opting for managerial positions are responsible for time scheduling, budgeting and interacting with clients, as well as maintaining a thorough and current understanding of their field.

An employment growth of 22% is expected for geoscientists between 2006 and 2016. Increasing awareness of environmental protection and the rising needs for energy will create a large number of consulting opportunities for geoscientists. Graduates with a master’s degree will be even more highly sought after by private agencies. Geoscientists who monitor environmental conditions will be needed in large numbers for advance warning systems at coastal locations.

Working Conditions

Geoscientists spend a lot of time outdoors doing field work and geological surveys. They collect samples from the field and study them in the laboratory with the aid of highly sophisticated equipment. Working at remote sites is common for many geoscientists. They may even have to travel to different parts of the world and face varying climates for surveys and explorations.

Oceanographers spend a lot of time at sea performing their studies. The work may also involve working in foreign countries under difficult conditions for long periods of time. Geoscientists in managerial roles may also need to travel in order to meet prospective clients or investors.

Where to Go for More Information

American Association of Petroleum Geologists
P.O. Box 979
Tulsa, OK 74101

American Geological Institute
4220 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22302-1502

Earnings and Benefits

Median annual earnings of geoscientists were $72,660 in May 2006. The salary of geoscientists ranges from $51,860 to $100,650 per annum. Pay packages are largely dependent on the area of expertise. Petroleum and mining industries currently offer the highest salaries, but job openings in this specialty may decline in the event of an economic downturn or the ascent of viable alternative fuels.

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