How To Become a Geoscientist in 5 Steps

Want to be hiking in remote areas taking samples? Theres a job that does that. Want to work in a lab looking for solutions to environmental problems? Theres a job that does that. Prefer to have an office job? Theres a job that does that, too.

There really is something for everyone in geology – its so diverse in career opportunities and is always growing, says Becca, an Earth Sciences student at Waterloo.

Geoscientists typically need a bachelor’s degree in geoscience or a related field, such as physical science or natural resources. Employers sometimes prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree. Geoscience programs include courses in subjects such as mineralogy, petrology, and structural geology.
  1. Receive a bachelor’s degree in geoscience. Most geoscientists have a bachelor’s degree in geoscience or a related field like environmental science. …
  2. Gain internship experience. …
  3. Apply for entry-level roles. …
  4. Get a geology license. …
  5. Consider advanced education.

How to be a geoscientist

What does a geoscientist do?

Geoscientists use different research methods to learn about the Earth, but their focus is on the rocks and minerals that create the natural world. Often, they analyze samples collected during fieldwork and compare their findings to historical records of natural events, like volcanic eruptions, and man-made events, like oil drilling. Here are some responsibilities of a geoscientist:

What is a geoscientist?

A geoscientist is someone who studies the Earth by examining different aspects of the ground and soil, natural formations and natural disasters. Their goal is to learn how the Earth has changed over history, how to predict natural disasters and where to find valuable resources like oil and gas. Geoscientists understand changes in the Earth and the quality of land, so theyre important resources for knowing if an area is safe for buildings and communities.

Geoscientist skills

There are many skills that can help you succeed as a geoscientist, including:

Communication

This skill is useful for compiling reports and publishing research papers on your findings in geoscience. Good communication allows you to describe your ideas clearly and thoroughly so others in the geoscience field understand your work. Quality reports and research papers may help you get additional funding from universities and laboratories that are interested in your findings, which helps you continue your work and learn more about the Earth.

Physical stamina

Geoscience is a relatively active field where you may have to hike and climb to get the samples you need for your research. Physical stamina is an important skill for you to perform necessary research in areas that may be a challenge to reach. By maintaining your physical stamina, you can walk longer distances, climb to more remote locations and carry heavy samples to analyze. This skill is especially important in areas that are affected by earthquakes and eruptions, which may require more stamina to cross safely.

Problem-solving

Being able to problem solve is crucial to the field of geoscience. For example, if you cant reach a certain location during your fieldwork, you may have to come up with a different way to study the area or find samples elsewhere. Besides quickly solving issues in the field, its important that you can use problem-solving skills to prove or deny your hypothesis and find helpful answers to geological questions.

Teamwork

Another useful skill to have as a geoscientist is the ability to work with a team successfully. You may collaborate with many colleagues and peers in this role, and using your teamwork skill can help you work more effectively as a group. This may help you advance your research with similar studies from colleagues, find new information from a scientist in a similar field or solve urgent issues for communities affected by natural disasters.

Geoscientist work environment

The work environment of a geoscientist is always changing because this role requires so much fieldwork. In this job, you may spend half of your time in the field searching for samples and the other half in an office or laboratory studying those samples. Often, this means you might work irregular hours and travel to various locations for your research. Sometimes, this involves walking or climbing across dangerous terrain to reach a specific location. Other duties of this role include finding historical records at libraries, speaking to locals and collaborating with other laboratories.

Average salary and job outlook

Examine the following steps to learn how to become a geoscientist:

1. Receive a bachelors degree in geoscience

Most geoscientists have a bachelors degree in geoscience or a related field like environmental science. This degree helps you understand the basics of studying the Earth, including geological terminology and methods of sample collection. While attending college, you may also have the option to take part in field research with professors and gain experience collecting and analyzing samples.

2. Gain internship experience

Internships are a great way to learn more about geoscience and practice researching in the field, and you can complete them while still in college. With a geoscience internship, you can work with professional scientists to deepen your understanding of the Earth and increase the size of your network. Internship experience and networking connections may help you find your first job as a geoscientist.

3. Apply for entry-level roles

With your degree and internship experience, you can apply for entry-level geoscientist roles. These jobs are often support roles for more experienced scientists in which you help conduct specific research, report to your team lead and assist with paperwork and writing reports. Universities, research facilities and environmental organizations often hire geoscientists.

4. Get a geology license

To perform certain duties of a job in geoscience, you may need a geology license. Depending on the state, anyone involved with geology must pass the Professional Geologist Licensure Exam given by the National Association of State Boards of Geology, or ASBOG. Requirements for this exam vary by state, but you typically need five years of experience working as a geologist or geoscientist before you can apply. After receiving your license, you can apply for higher-level jobs.

5. Consider advanced education

While not required, many geoscientists choose to pursue advanced degrees to deepen their understanding of geoscience. You may choose to get your Ph.D. in a specialized area of geoscience, like environmental protection or seismic activity. This helps you become an expert in your field, which can result in higher-paying roles, more funding and a larger network of colleagues with which to collaborate. In addition, a Ph.D. allows you to become a geoscience professor and teach at colleges and universities.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

FAQ

How long does it take to become a geoscientist?

Common requirements for licensure include a bachelor’s degree, 3-5 years of field experience and passage of a licensing exam. Experience requirements tend to be lower if you have a master’s or doctoral degree.

Is it easy to become a geoscientist?

Geoscientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree for most entry-level positions. A geosciences degree is generally preferred by employers, although some geoscientists begin their careers with degrees in environmental science or engineering. Some geoscientist jobs require a master’s degree.

Is it hard to find a job as a geoscientist?

Getting a job as a geologist is actually easier than you might think, if you know some effective ways to go about it that is. Geology is a wide field and there are many jobs available for geologists, even outside the mineral resource sector.

Do geoscientists make a lot of money?

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists reports every year on average salaries spanning years experience and degree acquired. You will notice that entry-level geologists earn on average $92,000, $104,400, and $117,300 for a bachelor, masters, and PhD degree in geology, respectively.

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