Geologist Career Overview
Geologists study the material aspects and history of our planet, particularly rock formations and the processes involved in forming these rocks, such as earthquakes and volcanism. Geologists build these skills and knowledge in a bachelor's degree that may be offered as a hybrid degree, where part of the coursework is offered online but students are also required to attend field schools. The following table provides information about the skills involved in the profession as well as median salary and job growth prospects.
|Required Skills||Communication skills, critical thinking, outdoor skills, physical stamina, problem solving|
|Job Growth*||6% for 2018-2028 (for all geoscientists)|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$91,130 per year (for all geoscientists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Steps to Become a Geologist Online
The steps to becoming a geologist including earning a degree and gaining state licensure. A few universities offer distance-learning programs in geology that can prepare you to enter the career, but they often require some hands-on experiences. If your state requires a license to deal with the public as a geologist, you can obtain this through your state board; while the exam must be taken in person, you can prepare for it online.
Step 1. Obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Geology Online
At a minimum, geologists typically have a bachelor's degree in geology or another geoscience. Training as a geologist entails field trips and lab work where you learn to identify and analyze rocks. During four years of coursework, students learn about the planet, atmosphere, and ocean as well as physics and especially chemistry. Although not common, some universities offer the degree's full range of courses online but may require attendance at a summer field school in person to supplement online studies with hands-on experience. Some programs allow you to choose a specialization area, for instance you might enroll in an online geoscience bachelor's degree that prepares you for a geology career in education or environmental policymaking or you might choose to focus on geospatial technologies or natural resources & conservation.
Step 2. Continue your Education by Earning a Master's Degree in Geology Online
While it is possible to gain entry-level employment with just a bachelor's degree in geoscience, a master's degree may open the door for more career options or serve as a step towards career advancements. An online, non-thesis master's degree in geology consists of about 10 courses. In some programs, students may be required to visit the college to participate in a final project workshop. Additional topics studied at the master's level involve issues around geographic information systems, geomechanics, mineral processing, and geological processes.
You might choose from online programs that offer concentrations in areas like:
- Mining, geological, and geophysical engineering
- Geographic information science and technology
- Petroleum data management
- Ocean data science
Step 3. Get Licensed as a Geologist
Although licensing is not necessary for all geology careers, many states require geologists to have a license before offering services to the public, and you can apply for licensing through your state board. The National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) administers the Fundamentals of Geology (FG) examination, which is taken shortly after you have completed your education. The Practice of Geology (PG) examination is then taken after you have meet the work experience requirements for licensure of your state Currently, there is no online option to get a license, but study materials are available online through ASBOG. You can also find multiple online resources for studying for the exam as well as take practice tests.