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Geologist doing field work, Hudson Bay mountain, Smithers, British Columbia
Keith Douglas / All Canada Photos / Getty Images

Job Description

A geoscientist studies the earth's composition, structure and other physical aspects. He or she may search for natural resources like groundwater, metals and petroleum, or may help environmental scientists clean up and preserve the environment. Someone working in this field may also be called a geologist or geophysicist.

Employment Facts

There were slightly over 38,000 geoscientists employed in the United States in 2012. Over a quarter work for oil and gas extraction companies. Many others have jobs with engineering and consulting firms.

A geoscientist divides his or her time between the laboratory, office and the field. Those whose job involves searching for natural resources will have to spend time in remote parts of the world. While doing fieldwork, one may be exposed to bad weather and harsh travel conditions.

Educational Requirements

Entry-level jobs typically require at least a bachelor's degree in geology. Most employers will also accept a degree in engineering, physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics or computer science but coursework in geology is a must. A master's degree will open many more doors and a PhD is necessary for anyone who wants to work as a researcher or teach in a college or university.

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements

Several states license geoscientists. To learn about the requirements in the state in which you want to work see the Licensed Occupations Tool from CareerOneStop.

In addition to education and licensing requirements, one needs certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed in this occupation. A geoscientist must be able to work on a team and must have strong communication skills, including speaking, writing and listening skills. The ability to think analytically is very important. Knowledge of a foreign language is a plus.

Advancement Opportunities

As a geoscientist gains experience he or she will get more difficult assignments and may eventually move into a managerial position.

Why Do You Need to Know About Advancement?

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job growth for geoscientists will be faster than the average for all occupations through 2022.

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?


Geoscientists earned a median annual salary of $90,890 and median hourly wages of $43.70 in 2012.

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a geoscientist currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Geoscientist's Life:

These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for geoscientist positions found on Indeed.com:

  • Interact with all parts of a project life cycle from concept through acquisition to pilot appraisal.
  • Provide accurate and pertinent scientific data according to agreed upon methods, procedures and techniques.
  • Evaluate regional focus area for conventional and unconventional resource potential.
  • Assist with commercial analyses for continued development and new opportunity generation.
  • Make technical presentations internally on projects, and represent the Company externally as needed or requested.
  • Perform and coordinate 3D geocellular reservoir modeling projects in multiple play types, to develop field development strategies to maximize recovery, and to coordinate modeling efforts with outside contractors.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Geoscientists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geoscientists.htm (visited April 17, 2014).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Geoscientists, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/19-2042.00 (visited April 17, 2014).

Should You Become a Geoscientist? Take a Quiz to Find Out.

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