Career Opportunities in the Geosciences
“The role of Earth science in meeting society’s needs continues to grow in importance. Earth scientists use these skills to ensure a supply of clean water, explore for oil, gas, and coal, map the oceans, track severe weather, and discover the Earth materials we need to build our homes and roads, and the minerals and nutrients we need to farm the land. The Earth sciences provide an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to a true understanding of our planet. Not only does this major allow students to work on many of society’s most important challenges, but it also unlocks lucrative and personally rewarding careers in industry, academia, research and government” (Why Earth Science?, AGI).
Geology is an interdisciplinary science that studies the earth and its structural history, including the evolution of life and the atmosphere. Geologists study the earth, its composition, history, and dynamic systems, in an effort to ensure the rapidly growing human population with adequate supplies of natural resources to maintain the delicate balance of its environment. Many geologists work for federal, state, or local governments, while others work for private industry or work in private consulting.
Our traditional undergraduate degree in geology provides a classical, broad-based exposure to geological disciplines and thus, prepares the graduate well for entry into a wide variety of geological careers and for graduate school. Many of our graduates find employment in the oil and gas industry. Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale has emerged as one of the most economical and fastest-growing sources of shale gas in the country. This regional asset has produced a myriad of employment opportunities for geologists. Furthermore, employment opportunities arising from Marcellus activity is expected to continue to grow for years to come. The Environmental Geology Concentration is tailored for those who wish to enter the environmental geology field. It prepares the graduate well for entry into a range of geological and environmental careers and for graduate school in these disciplines. Graduates commonly find employment in geologic aspects of groundwater supply, contamination and remediation, as well as soils, slope stability, and other environmental geology concerns.
The following represents only a small sampling of what our geoscience graduates are doing and where they are employed:
Regional Director - PA Department of Environmental Protection
Geologist - Chevron
Environmental Scientist - Environmental Remediation and Recovery, Edinboro, PA
Geotechnician - Moody and Associates, Meadville, PA
Geologist - U.S. Energy
College Professor - Edinboro University of PA
Geoscientist - Paul C. Rizzo Associates
Project Manager - JHA Companies
Geologist - Baker Hughes
College Instructor - University of Hawaii - Hilo
Geologist - U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
Geosteering Analyst - ALS Empirica
College Professor - University of Kentucky
Geoscientist - Halliburton
Geologist - Klamath National Forest, CA
Surface Logger - Emperica Oil and Gas
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) developed the infographic shown below to help students entering the workforce redefine what it means to have a career in geoscience. The colored rings signify the different sectors where geoscientists work. The wedges, in turn represent the fields where geoscientists are employed and include different examples of occupations. Where the wedges intersect with the rings indicate that those fields are included in those sectors.
Dwindling resources and mounting environmental problems mean that the nation will continue to need geoscientists. “Geoscience jobs are plentiful, salaries are robust, and the demand for young and enthusiastic geoscientists is expected to continue growing. This kind of job security is unparalleled in any other field today”, (AGI, 2014). According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of geoscientists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition). The need for energy, environmental protection, and responsible land and resource management is projected to spur demand for geoscientists in the future. The median annual wage for geoscientists was $90,890 in May 2012 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition).
The following videos provide prospective students with an overview of the geosciences and the many ways that geoscientists are applying their expertise to meet society’s needs.