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Geoscientist: Employment & Career Info

Geoscience is a broad area that includes the study of environmental science, geological data technology, biology and survey technology. Find information about employment and salary outlook for geoscientists here, as well as how much education is needed to qualify for a position in the field.

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Career Definition for a Geoscientist

Geoscientists study rocks, soil, water, fossilized remains of past life forms and other naturally occurring items in order to understand the earth's past environmental makeup. They use this information to find ways to improve the planet's current and future environment. Geoscientists often work in secluded areas where they can study natural phenomena that haven't been affected by humankind.

Education Bachelor's degree
Job Skills Communication, data analysis, mathematics, computer skills
Median Salary (2015) $89,700 (for geoscientists, excluding hydrologists and geographers)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10% for geoscientists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

While graduates with a 4-year degree in geoscience may qualify for entry-level positions, the majority of employers look for people with master's or doctoral degrees in the subject. Students with a major in computer or natural science, engineering or math may also be considered, as long as they have taken some undergraduate courses in geology. Although it takes two additional years to obtain a master's degree and about four more years to complete a doctorate program, graduates may find themselves enjoying the advantage in the job market. Core coursework in a geology program may include topics in mineralogy, biology, structural geography and math.

Skills Required

Geoscientists need a strong math and science background and good computer skills. They should also be able to gather, analyze and interpret data and express themselves orally and in writing.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that career opportunities for geoscientists will increase by 10% nationwide from 2014 to 2024, or faster than average, in comparison to all other occupations. In addition to research positions, many geoscientists work as consultants or managers for energy companies focusing on environmental protection. According to BLS figures, the 2015 median annual salary for geoscientists was $89,700 (www.bls.gov).

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Alternate Career Options

Individuals interested in geoscience may consider related occupations in atmospheric science, physics and astronomy.

Atmospheric Scientists

Atmospheric scientists, such as those employed by broadcasting stations, the government or scientific services, examine climate and weather patterns, as well as how they impact us and the Earth. A 4-year degree in atmospheric science is typically required for an entry-level position; aspiring researchers will most likely need a master's or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.

According to the BLS, employment prospects for atmospheric scientists are expected to increase by 9% nationwide, or as fast as average, between 2014 and 2024; private industry may offer some of the best opportunities. Atmospheric scientists who were working in their field in May 2015 earned a median salary of $89,820 a year (www.bls.gov).

Physicists and Astronomers

Physicists and astronomers research the relationship between energy and matter, including the theoretical origins of our universe. Educational requirements include a doctorate in astronomy, physics or another related subject. As reported by the BLS, aspiring and currently employed physicists can expect an 8% increase in employment nationwide from 2014-2024, while employment of astronomers is predicted to grow by 3% during. As of May 2015, physicists and astronomers earned median annual salaries of $111,580 and $104,100, respectively (www.bls.gov).

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