What Does A Geoscientist Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Stan T.Career, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Geoscientists

Geoscientists study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth. May use geological, physics, and mathematics knowledge in exploration for oil, gas, minerals, or underground water; or in waste disposal, land reclamation, or other environmental problems. May study the Earth's internal composition, atmospheres, and oceans, and its magnetic, electrical, and gravitational forces. Includes mineralogists, paleontologists, stratigraphers, geodesists, and seismologists.

Salary
$112110
Becoming One
Very Hard
Education
Bachelor's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Geoscientists study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth. May use geological, physics, and mathematics knowledge in exploration for oil, gas, minerals, or underground water; or in waste disposal, land reclamation, or other environmental problems. May study the Earth's internal composition, atmospheres, and oceans, and its magnetic, electrical, and gravitational forces. Includes mineralogists, paleontologists, stratigraphers, geodesists, and seismologists.

Job desc

  • Analyze and interpret geological, geochemical, or geophysical information from sources such as survey data, well logs, boreholes, or aerial photos.
  • Plan or conduct geological, geochemical, or geophysical field studies or surveys, sample collection, or drilling and testing programs used to collect data for research or application.
  • Prepare geological maps, cross-sectional diagrams, charts, or reports concerning mineral extraction, land use, or resource management, using results of fieldwork or laboratory research.
  • Analyze and interpret geological data, using computer software.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Geoscientists analyze and interpret geological, geochemical, or geophysical information from sources such as survey data, well logs, boreholes, or aerial photos. They analyze and interpret geological data, using computer software.

A typical day for a Geoscientist will also include:

  • Locate and review research articles or environmental, historical, or technical reports.
  • Locate and estimate probable natural gas, oil, or mineral ore deposits or underground water resources, using aerial photographs, charts, or research or survey results.
  • Investigate the composition, structure, or history of the Earth’s crust through the collection, examination, measurement, or classification of soils, minerals, rocks, or fossil remains.
  • Plan or conduct geological, geochemical, or geophysical field studies or surveys, sample collection, or drilling and testing programs used to collect data for research or application.
  • Assess ground or surface water movement to provide advice on issues such as waste management, route and site selection, or the restoration of contaminated sites.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Geoscientists also plan or conduct geological, geochemical, or geophysical field studies or surveys, sample collection, or drilling and testing programs used to collect data for research or application. They may also prepare geological maps, cross-sectional diagrams, charts, or reports concerning mineral extraction, land use, or resource management, using results of fieldwork or laboratory research.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Geoscientists analyze and interpret geological data, using computer software. They might also locate and review research articles or environmental, historical, or technical reports.

In addition, they advise construction firms or government agencies on dam or road construction, foundation design, land use, or resource management.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them inspect construction projects to analyze engineering problems, using test equipment or drilling machinery.

To some Geoscientists, it is also their responsibility to investigate the composition, structure, or history of the earth’s crust through the collection, examination, measurement, or classification of soils, minerals, rocks, or fossil remains.

Featured Schools


What is the job like

Job satisfaction

High

Is this job meaningful

Average

72% said they were satisfied with their job and 55% said they found their job meaningful.


Victoria Stevens
University of Cape Town

I am Victoria Stevens, 31 years old, originally British, a postdoc researcher in the geology department at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

I research earthquakes and help to improve earthquake hazard forecasting. Unlike the stereotype of a geologist, I barely ever look at rocks. I spend most of my time coding (in MATLAB, R, and PYTHON), where I create statistical models based on earthquake data. I spend the rest of my time reading geology articles online and writing up my results to publish in academic journals. Occasionally I give presentations and attend conferences which take place all over the world.

Last summer I lectured the undergrad geology students in geophysics, so spent some time preparing lectures, practical classes, and exams. I co-supervise a master’s student, to who I give technical advice about the best analytical methods.

Even though I don’t look at rocks, I spend a few weeks per year doing fieldwork. In the past two years, I’ve visited both Namibia and Malawi to investigate their recent tectonic history.

Pros

  • I love being in academics, as it gives me freedom over my work, I’m not told exactly what to do. I can manage my time as I want, as long as I meet deadlines.
  • My work is extremely varied, there are so many different aspects to my geological research. I’m working on projects all over the world, in Tibet, Bhutan, Namibia, Malawi, and Scandinavia, and I love that I can learn something new every day.
  • Most of my work involves improving earthquake hazard maps, which are used by engineers and disaster management agencies to lower the risk of fatalities in future earthquakes. It’s highly motivating to work on something that has so much real-world impact.
  • Being a geologist is a great way to impress your friends whenever you’re in the outdoors. I can describe the geological history of the area just by studying the rocks and landscape.
  • Being in academics allows me to live in many different places around the world, which I love. Wherever there is a university that researches geology, I have a chance of finding a job there.

Cons

  • My specialization in tectonics and geophysics is dominated by men, some of whom assume that women are less good at science and ignore your work at conferences.
  • Finding a permanent job can be a challenge. There aren’t that many senior positions in academics, often you have to spend quite a few years on temporary contracts before finding something longer term.
  • People outside of academics assume that because you’re a geologist, you only know about rocks, and don’t have any mathematical, analytical, or coding skills. If you decide you want to leave academics, this can be a challenge, as many businesses see the word geology, and don’t take you seriously.

Pros

Suitable for people who like to solve problems mentally.

Suitable for people who want independence and like to work on their own and make decisions.

One of the highest-paid careers in the world.

Demand for this career is growing very fast.

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to help and teach others.

It is hard to get into this career. A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week).

How much do they make

Average salary

$112110 per year

Average hourly wage

$54 per hour

Entry-level Geoscientists with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $51,890 to $66,500 per year or $25 to $32 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $201,150 $97
Senior (Top 25%) $136,020 $65
Median $93,580 $45
Junior (Bottom 25%) $66,500 $32
No experience (Bottom 10%) $51,890 $25

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Geoscientists based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Management of Companies and Enterprises $194680 $93.60
Oil and Gas Extraction $170870 $82.15
Machinery Manufacturing $165980 $79.80
Employment Services $144570 $69.50
Computer Systems Design and Related Services $134920 $64.87
Scientific Research and Development Services $123430 $59.34
Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services $107360 $51.61
Federal Executive Branch $106440 $51.17
Support Activities for Mining $104360 $50.18
Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities $101140 $48.62

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Geoscientists work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Geoscientists including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services 7540 $91840 $44.15
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services 4870 $91870 $44.17
Oil and Gas Extraction 2780 $170870 $82.15
Management of Companies and Enterprises 2700 $194680 $93.60
State Government 2190 $79220 $38.09
Federal Executive Branch 2160 $106440 $51.17
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 1430 $88080 $42.35
Support Activities for Mining 1260 $104360 $50.18
Scientific Research and Development Services 980 $123430 $59.34
Metal Ore Mining 400 $86300 $41.49

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
0%

40 hours
31%

More than 40 hours
69%

Working schedule

66%

34%

0%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
9%

Every day
88%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
44%

Every day
34%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
34%

Every day
59%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
0%

Once a year
47%

Once a month
25%

Once a week
19%

Every day
9%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
3%

Slightly competitive
19%

Moderately competitive
34%

Highly competitive
28%

Extremely competitive
16%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
9%

Once a year or more
13%

Once a month or more
3%

Once a week or more
25%

Every day
50%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
25%

Once a year or more
28%

Once a month or more
28%

Once a week or more
19%

Every day
0%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
3%

Once a year or more
28%

Once a month or more
34%

Once a week or more
31%

Every day
3%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
16%

Once a year or more
47%

Once a month or more
19%

Once a week or more
19%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Very Hard
You will need an extensive amount of skill, knowledge, and experience. Careers in this difficulty category usually require graduate school and more than five years of experience. These careers usually involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Similar careers include Pharmacists, Lawyers, Astronomers, Neurologists, and Veterinarians.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
0%

Post-Secondary Certificate
0%

Some College Courses
0%

Associate’s Degree or similar
0%

Bachelor’s Degree
38%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
3%

Master’s Degree
44%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
9%

Post-Doctoral Training
6%

Relevant majors

Oceanography, Chemical and Physical

A program that focuses on the scientific study of the chemical components, mechanisms, structure, and movement of ocean waters and their interaction with terrestrial and atmospheric phenomena. Includes instruction in material inputs and outputs, chemical and biochemical transformations in marine systems, equilibria studies, inorganic and organic ocean chemistry, oceanographic processes, sediment transport, zone processes, circulation, mixing, tidal movements, wave properties, and seawater properties.

Geochemistry and Petrology

A program that focuses on the scientific study of the igneous, metamorphic, and hydrothermal processes within the earth and the mineral, fluid, rock, and ore deposits resulting from them. Includes instruction in mineralogy, crystallography, petrology, volcanology, economic geology, meteoritics, geochemical reactions, deposition, compound transformation, core studies, theoretical geochemistry, computer applications, and laboratory studies.


Paleontology

A program that focuses on the scientific study of extinct life forms and associated fossil remains, and the reconstruction and analysis of ancient life forms, ecosystems, and geologic processes. Includes instruction in sedimentation and fossilization processes, fossil chemistry, evolutionary biology, paleoecology, paleoclimatology, trace fossils, micropaleontology, invertebrate paleontology, vertebrate paleontology, paleobotany, field research methods, and laboratory research and conservation methods.

Geophysics and Seismology

A program that focuses on the scientific study of the physics of solids and its application to the study of the earth and other planets. Includes instruction in gravimetric, seismology, earthquake forecasting, magnetrometry, electrical properties of solid bodies, plate tectonics, active deformation, thermodynamics, remote sensing, geodesy, and laboratory simulations of geological processes.

Geochemistry

A program that focuses on the scientific study of the chemical properties and behavior of the silicates and other substances forming, and formed by geomorphological processes of the earth and other planets. Includes instruction in chemical thermodynamics, equilibrium in silicate systems, atomic bonding, isotopic fractionation, geochemical modeling, specimen analysis, and studies of specific organic and inorganic substances.


Geology/Earth Science

A program that focuses on the scientific study of the earth; the forces acting upon it; and the behavior of the solids, liquids and gases comprising it. Includes instruction in historical geology, geomorphology, and sedimentology, the chemistry of rocks and soils, stratigraphy, mineralogy, petrology, geostatistics, volcanology, glaciology, geophysical principles, and applications to research and industrial problems.

Geobiology

A program that focuses on the scientific study of how living things interact with geological systems. Includes instruction in evolution of Earth systems, geochemistry, geology, geomicrobiology, marine chemistry, paleobiology, paleoecology, paleontology, and petrology.

Geoarcheaology

A program that focuses on the application of analytical techniques, concepts, and field methods from the earth sciences to solve archaeological questions related to human settlement, artifacts, site taphonomy, and paleoenvironments. Includes instruction in anthropology, ancient civilizations, archeology, geology, paleoclimatic reconstruction, sedimentology, and site taphonomic research.


Environmental Geosciences

A program that focuses on the scientific study of the environmental implications of geological processes and human activities on Earth. Includes instruction in environmental/natural resource management, geographic information systems (GIS), geology, hydrology, regulatory agency compliance, hazard identification and mitigation, environmental law, environmental policy, and sustainability studies.

Earth Systems Science

A program that focuses on the interaction of the Earth's oceanographic, atmospheric, and terrestrial systems. Includes instruction in biogeochemistry, climate dynamics, geographical information science (GIS), geophysics, hydrology, landscape ecology, meteorology, and satellite remote sensing analysis.

Marine Sciences

A program that focuses on the study of biology, chemistry, geology and physics applied to marine, estuarine and coastal environments. Includes instruction in marine biogeochemistry, atmosphere and ocean dynamics, coastal ecology, coastal ocean processes, microbial ecology, marine ecosystem modeling, and polar microbiology.


Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
19%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
6%

3 to 6 months
6%

6 months to 1 year
22%

1 to 2 years
16%

2 to 4 years
16%

4 to 6 years
6%

6 to 8 years
3%

8 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
6%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
6%

1 month
16%

1 to 3 months
6%

3 to 6 months
23%

6 months to 1 year
19%

1 to 2 years
16%

2 to 4 years
13%

4 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Thinker

People with this personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.

The Builder
71%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
100%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
43%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
19%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
33%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
48%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with ideas and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

They also like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
76%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
76%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
76%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
48%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
33%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
81%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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