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Who hires geologists?

Explore Careers in Geology

Explore Careers In Oceanography

Explore Careers in Paleontology

How Much Do Geologists Make?

There are several types of careers that you can pursue with a Geology or Earth Science degree:

* Environmental Geology: You can be involved in water and soil testing and remediation, assessment of sites for pollution types and amounts, clean-up of toxic chemicals from the water and/or soil.

* Engineering Geology: Engineering geologists work with other professionals to oversee the planning and construction of buildings, bridges, roads, dams, landfills, and tunnels. Geological engineers are experts in rock strength, stability of slopes, and the mechanics of soils.

* Geological Education: You can specialize in Middle Childhood or Secondary Education, bringing the Earth Sciences to children of a broad spectrum of ages. Teaching at the college/university level requires a Ph.D. at most institutions.

*Petroleum Geology and Economic Geology: This involves searching for and helping to mine or exploit Earth’s resources, including ore minerals, oil, natural gas, and coal.

* Field Geology: You can make maps, assess areas for geological activity, and monitor environmental remediation.

* Science Writing and Editing: With a combination of English or Journalism coursework, you can write or edit science articles, manuals, and other texts.

* Environmental Law: With background in the earth sciences, you can go on to study and litigate various aspects of the impact of humans on the physical environment.

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Engineering Geologists must ensure that roadcuts such as this one in the Andes, near Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina, are stable.  Photo by R. Feldmann.

The breakwall in the background has been engineered to protect the Lake Erie coastline.  Photo by R. Feldmann.

Specialize!  Geologists who specialize in the following areas typically have a Master’s Degree or a Ph.D:

Paleontology–the study of ancient life and ecosystems

Volcanology–the study of volcanoes

Seismology–the study of earthquakes

Hydrogeology–the study of groundwater, its flow, and its pollution and remediation

Hydrology–the study of surface water flow

Geochemistry–the study of geochemical reactions in rocks and water

Geophysics–the study of all physical aspects of the Earth, including paleomagnetism, plate tectonics, earthquakes activity

Structural Geology–the study of mountain building and the folding and faulting of rocks

Paleoclimatology/Paleooceanography–the study and modeling of past oceans and climates

Oceanography–the study of coastal erosion, sediment transport, construction of harbors, and other aspects of the modern oceans

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This fossil crab was collected from Oligocene rocks of Argentina.  Note the 25 peso coin for scale (about the size of a US quarter).  Photo by R. Feldmann.

Who hires geologists?


Consulting Firms


State and Federal EPA


State Geological Surveys and the United States Geological Survey




Engineering Firms


City Planning Offices


Environmental Firms


Petroleum Companies


Mining Companies


Secondary Schools, Junior High Schools, and Middle Schools


State and Federal Highway Departments


US Government agencies such as NOAA, Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management


Publishers and producers of science books, magazines, computer software, web materials, and television shows


Legal Firms

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KSU geologists, visiting geologists from Romania and Argentina, and KSU students visit Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado, which employs geologists.  Photo by L. Conkle.


The following are good links that have more information about careers in the geological sciences:

Geological Society of America

The Paleontological Society

United States Geological Survey

American Geological Institute

American Association of Petroleum Geologists

Smithsonian Institution

British Antarctic Survey

The Geological Society (UK)

Association for Women Geoscientists

Paleontological Research Institute

Geological Society of Canada

Earth Science World

Saddleback College, CA

University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Geological Society of Australia

National Park Service

Science Careers Web

University of Colorado, Boulder, Department of Geology

Geology Careers

Geoscience Gateways

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Field work in geology takes students and professionals all over the world.  Here, students and professors from Kent State University and the University of Bucharest in Romania stop for a break in the Bucegi Mountains, part of the Carpathian Mountain Range, in Romania.  Photo by Ovidiu Franţescu.


The following links have more information about careers in oceanography:

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Shoals Marine Laboratory

Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories

Mote Marine Laboratory, FL




US Navy


Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program

National Ocean Sciences Bowl

Melting and formation of glaciers have profound impact on sea level.  Photo by R. Feldmann.

Rising sea levels continue to cause problems for residents of Venice.  Photo by R. Feldmann.

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The following links have more information about careers in paleontology:

Paleontological Research Institute

Smithsonian Institution

The Paleontological Society

The Field Museum (Chicago)

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology


Dinosaur Pages, UC Santa Barbara

Dr. Schweitzer's and Dr. Feldmann's Research Site

Fossil crabs were collected in reefs northwest of Barcelona, Spain.  Barry van Bakel, Pedro Artal, Carrie Schweitzer, and Rod Feldmann.  Photo by Pedro's amigo.