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Academics / Departments & Programs / Geo / Careers & Outcomes / Geology

Why choose geology?

  • Strong demand for new geologists

    The current workforce is aging and starting to retire, causing a growing demand in this field. Because of this salaries are generally high, and future job security may also be high.

  • Active, fulfilling lifestyle

    Geology gives the opportunity to do much more than sit behind a desk. Many positions include outdoor fieldwork and sampling.

  • Get to know the world

    Geology will help you develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the world around you.

  • Provide for society

    Our world depends on many natural resources, the locating and extraction of which geologists often play a key role. Progress in these areas is an important duty of the geologist. Geologists also work to protect people from natural disasters and hazards, including the global climate crisis.

Explore Career Fields

Petroleum industry

The following basic geology courses are extremely desirable: introductory geology, historical geology, sedimentary petrology and depositional environments, stratigraphy, structural geology, introductory geophysics, seismic stratigraphy, petroleum geology, geochemistry and field geology. Field geology can be taken during the summer through Calvin or from many other institutions.

Geophysics is currently a particularly good field to be in because at present there are 10 times as many geology students as geophysics students, yet the petroleum industry hires equal numbers of geophysicists and geologists.

Mining industry

The mining industry desires students with a strong physical science background with an emphasis on physical chemistry. Essential courses are petrology, petrography, structural geology, geochemistry, geophysics, field geology, and ore deposits. Courses in related fields such as engineering or economics are desirable.

Geoscience consulting firms

Consulting companies need geologists who have broad interests and diverse skills and who can readily retrain themselves to enter new fields as market demand changes. Specific courses are not as important as having a strong technical base in earth science, civil engineering, mathematics, or chemistry. It is recommended that you attend events that expose you to a diversity of geology (e.g. field trips, seminars, and workshops). Of particular importance is a variety of summer employment experiences. Knowledge of field techniques (e.g. drilling, pumping tests, logging, water-quality monitoring, or geophysical applications) is especially important. Proficiency in stratigraphy and rock and soil description is also desirable, as is expertise in computer applications and statistics.

Of equal importance to your technical skills are your writing skills because consulting firms sell reports of their work. A clear and concise description of your results must be the end-product. Indeed, geoscience employers consistently emphasize the importance of both written and oral communication.

Federal government

The federal government (e.g. U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, etc.)currently employs about 2600 geologists, 600 geophysicists, 2200 hydrologists, 500 mining engineers, and 500 petroleum engineers. The basic course requirements for consideration of a geologist for employment by the US government are six courses in geology (mineralogy, paleontology, stratigraphy, structural geology, petrology, and geomorphology) plus five courses in cartography and in the cognate sciences such as math, physics, chemistry, or biology.

State and local government

The six most important courses are: structural geology, field geology, petrology and petrography, stratigraphy, environmental geology, and cartography with GIS. Non-geological courses considered important include: chemistry or physics, English composition, economics or computer science, and calculus.

Careers in Geology

  • Environmental Geologists

    Practical application of the principles of geology in the solving of environmental problems.

    • Managing geological resources
    • Mitigating effects of natural hazards
    • Managing industrial waste
  • Hydrologists

    Dealing with the distribution and movement of groundwater in the soil and rocks.

    • Managing water resources
    • Searching for clean water aquifers
    • Mitigating water pollution events
  • Petroleum Geologists

    Engaged in the search for hydrocarbon fuels. The study of origin, occurrence, movement, accumulation, and exploration of hydrocarbons.

    • Source rock analysis
    • Basin analysis
    • Exploration
    • Appraisal
    • Production
  • Geochemists

    Using the tools and principles of chemistry to explain the mechanisms behind major geological systems.

    • Isotope geochemistry
    • Cosmochemistry
    • Biogeochemistry
    • Organic geochemistry
    • Aqueous geochemistry
    • Environmental geochemistry
    • Photogeochemistry
  • Volcanology

    Studying eruptive activity and formation of volcanoes.

    • Prediction of eruptions
    • Seismology
    • Remote sensing
  • National Park Interpretive Rangers

    Responsible for providing an enlightening experience to the visitors of city, state, or nationally designated parks.

    • Preparing information for exhibits on natural, social, and cultural history
    • Planning and conducting group talks on the geological, social, and cultural history of the park
    • Promoting conservation education
    • Preparing audiovisual materials, including photographs, color slides, and other illustrative materials
    • Repairing and updating materials for scientific and historic publications
    • Explaining rules and regulations to visitors
  • Professors

    Teach new generations of geologists while studying the topic you are passionate about.

    • Instructing
    • Research

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