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How to Become a Geologist

If you’ve got a talent for science, a love for nature, and a desire to help improve the environment and public safety, a career as a geologist might be perfect for you. 

Geologists study earth materials and processes, including rocks, gasses, sediment, minerals, and fossil fuels. Their breadth of work can span from doing individual studies on the environmental impact from the construction of buildings to advising mining and energy companies on how to safely extract earth materials with minimal impact on the environment. Decision-makers ask advice from geologists before starting on significant projects. 

Balancing safety for humans while minimizing environmental impact is at the heart of every ethical geologists’ job, with a heavy focus on conservation and sustainability. 

Sample job description

Do you enjoy working with the earth? Are you interested in taking on meaningful and hands-on challenges that will save lives and property? If so, [Your Company Name] is looking to hire someone new. Geologists use their understanding of the planet, as well as advanced tools and technology, to identify natural resources and develop improved research methods. More importantly, they try to form predictions about land processes based on previous natural disasters in order to interpret and report data for future use. Geologists work in cooperation with other scientists and analysts to collaboratively interpret different types of data as they focus on the world around us.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Collect and analyze surface soil samples
  • Develop detailed project maps and reports according to project specifications
  • Document and explain all findings and note any issues or concerns
  • Collaborate with a team of subcontractors to ensure each phase of a project is complete
  • Compile and present findings and recommendations to project management

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in geosciences, engineering, or geophysics 
  • Professional Geologist licensure preferred

Required skills and qualifications

  • Broad knowledge of federal, state, and local environmental regulations
  • Experience with ecological surveying and reporting
  • Knowledge of various sampling techniques and equipment
  • Robust critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent written and communications skills 
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office and industry-related software
  • Comfortable with fieldwork

Preferred qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in geology, science, or related field
  • 2+ years as a geoscience technician
  • Proficient with Microsoft software
  • Strong work ethic and enthusiasm
  • Takes responsibility for his/her own work and can operate with limited supervision
  • Ensure exemplary ESG practices

Typical work environment

Many hours will be spent in labs and offices combing over data and analyzing samples and reports. Geologists spend the majority of their time alongside others, seated or standing. They may also work in the field, which will include hard physical labor, long and extensive travel to remote locations, and irregular working hours.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a geologist are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting or in the field. However, travel opportunities may result in irregular hours.

Available certifications

In general, geologists will receive some level of formal education, however, there are standalone classes and courses that can bolster or compensate for it, such as:

  • EdX Geology Course – This beginner-level course will introduce you to the various aspects of geology, gathered by the top universities and institutes worldwide. You’ll learn about geological structures, processes, and resources, celestial systems, and the environmental issues we face. You have the option to specialize in different subcategories, and by the end, you’ll have the knowledge and groundwork to learn more complicated areas if desired.
  • Geology Coursera Certification – Coursera offers multiple courses created to help reinforce your knowledge of oceanography, mountains, groundwater contamination, and the geological history of the planet. Additionally, these courses can be extremely useful in preparation for geology examinations taken in formal education settings.
  • Udemy Geology Certification – These courses can provide the entire scope of education needed for geologists, from crash courses to highly specialized classes on advanced topics. You’ll find topics on physical psychology, sedimentology, survey methods, geochemistry, and much more.

Career path

The path to becoming a geologist typically starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in geosciences, engineering, geophysics, or a related field. Beyond that, employers prefer job applicants who obtain Professional Geologist licensure. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 19-2042

2020 Employment29,000
Projected Employment in 203031,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 7% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift2,000 increase

Geologists will continue to be expected to make important recommendations on how to balance growing environmental concerns with the ever-increasing demands placed on our environment due to population growth. The need for energy, environmental protection, and responsible land and resource management should spur demand for geoscientists in the next decade.