Associate's program courses can build a strong foundation in geology, covering topics such as the composition of rocks, structure of various landforms, plate tectonics, erosion, glaciers, tides, natural resources, and climate change. An understanding of basic math, chemistry, and physics is necessary to fully comprehend these subjects. Students also attend labs to learn the practical application of geology concepts.
Applicants must hold a high school diploma to enter an Associate of Science or Associate in Art program. Graduates often transfer to a college or university and complete a bachelor's degree program, then continue their geology studies at the master's and/or doctoral level. Advanced study is typically required for geologist positions.
Associate's in Geology Coursework
Subjects covered in a geology program include the study of the earth's formation, seismology, and hydrology. Other typical course topics include:
- Physical geology
- Historical geology
- Environmental geology
Popular Career Options
Although most graduates move on to higher education, there are some career choices available to those with an associate's degree in geology. Some jobs may require additional training, accomplished through certificate programs in areas such as environmental science or natural history. Possible job titles are:
- Geological technician
- Geological field assistant
- Field naturalist
- Environmental technician
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to PayScale.com, as of January 2016, geological and petroleum technicians earned a median salary of $58,333, while environmental technicians earned $40,409. The BLS projects that the employment of geological and petroleum technicians will likely grow during the 2014-2024 decade at a faster than average rate of 12%.
Continuing Education and Licensure
Completing a bachelor's degree program could improve entry-level job prospects as well as lead to high school teaching positions. To obtain a job as a geologist, a master's degree is usually required, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Federal agencies, state organizations, and private companies prefer to hire those with a graduate degree. A doctoral degree is required for a career in college teaching or for high-level research. Studies in various sub-disciplines can lead to a job in a more focused field, such as volcanology, seismology, mineralogy, or marine geology.
Geologists who want to offer their services directly to the public may have to get a license, depending on the state where they reside. Those who want to teach geology at a public school also will need to be licensed.
Student with an associate's degree in geology can pursue entry-level careers in the field, or earn their bachelor's and graduate-level degrees. Graduates gain a good foundation of knowledge in geology and the related sciences.