Career Opportunities

Approximately 50,000 geologists are at work today in private industry, in government, in teaching and research, and as self-employed consultants. Historically, most geologists have been employed in petroleum and related industries. Others work in cement, chemical, and ceramic industries, as well as in the mining industry. The largest federal employer is the U.S. Geological Survey, which is part of the Department of the Interior. Geologists also work for the Soil Conservation Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Mines, the Forestry Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, most states have their own geological surveys which require trained geologists.

In recent years the awareness of environmental issues has increased the need for geologists trained in the areas of groundwater, landslides, soil conservation, oceanography, and natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods. Employment opportunities in environmental and geotechnical fields continue to expand, even during times of economic slowdown, and promise to continue to be a major area of geological need.

Training and preparation for careers in geology normally requires education through the Masters degree, although some employment at the baccalaureate level can be found. Teaching and research at the college or university level requires the PhD degree. Regardless of the particular area of employment, a well-trained geologist must have a sound background in basic sciences, including math, chemistry, physics and essential geology courses. It is the goal of this department to provide this essential preparation at both the undergraduate and graduate level through its programs of laboratory and classroom activities and fieldwork. A well-trained geologist should have a good grasp of four areas of fundamental skills.

From time to time the department will sponsor a series of informal seminars related to post-graduate and career opportunities for undergraduates. Notices will be placed around the department and all undergraduates are invited to attend.

Additional Information

Science Careers in Science Magazine (the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) highlights two paths geologists might consider for a career: Carbon Capture and Storage and Geoengineering.

Information on career opportunities can be obtained from the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Geology.

Also, there is an undergraduate bulletin board next to room 527 Geology/Physics which contains information on careers as well as summer field camps and research opportunities. Additional information may be obtained from the Student Advising Center, 121 McMicken, and from the Career Dynamics Center, 6th floor Old Chemistry Building.