Careers in Geology
A B.Sc. degree in Geology leads to careers in:
Geology is an exciting career for people interested in the Earth, mineral resource development, or a wide range of related fields where a background in earth science is an asset. Careers in Geology offer opportunities for field and office work in many areas of the world, often in places that few people ever get visit. The work that is done now by geologists affects the decisions of future generations. Some examples of the careers available to students of Geology include:
Exploration Geologist: works for mining or petroleum companies or as a consulting geologist; searches for new mineral or energy resources and/or helps solve geological problems. Employment is cyclical; at present both the petroleum industry and mining industry have many opportunities, fueled by the high value of petroleum, natural gas and most metals. Many opportunities are available for work overseas, often in places well off the beaten track.
Mine Geologist: works in established mines with mining engineers to maximize mineral production and to develop further reserves of minerals. Employment depends on success of mineral exploration to develop new mining locations. Although opportunities are limited in Canada compared to 20-40 years ago, positions are available, and they are very extensive in Latin America, central Asia, and Africa.
Survey Geologist: works for provincial or federal government geological surveys; builds a framework of geological knowledge to encourage a better understanding of mineral and energy resources in the environment. Employment is steady - a continuous need exists, and requires a graduate with a broad knowledge base and experience, including field, marine, exploration and environmental specialists, as well as paleontologists and geophysicists. Generally requires Ph.D. level graduate study.
Hydrogeologist: studies the distribution of water in rocks and soil and its availability; deals with groundwater resource development and the problems associated with potential or real pollution. Employment opportunities are excellent at the moment in Canada and USA, and demand exceeds supply.
Environmental Geologist: studies the broad aspects of human-induced changes on the Earth; the effects of metallic and non-metallic ion concentrations and distributions in the environment, and the problems associated with real or potential geological hazards. With increasing concerns about the effects of pollution on the environment, environmental geologists are in demand by governments and private industry, primarily as consultants.
Marine Geologist: combines expertise in oceanography and earth science to study the physical, biological, and chemical aspects of the ocean floor. Employment opportunities are limited, requiring a Ph.D. degree, but opportunities for travel are excellent. Most employment is with government surveys or research institutions.
Geological Engineer: works for a mining or oil company involved in the discovery, development and extraction of known resources, or for an engineering company or government agency concerned with site investigation, design of engineering structures (dams, buildings, bridges, roads), groundwater resources, and waste disposal sites. Requires a Geology degree and an Engineering degree (B.Sc. Geol. Eng. or Civil Eng. with Geol.). Employment: a continuing need in consulting and mining companies and government.
Geophysicist: measures and interprets the physical, magnetic, and electrical properties of the Earth; provides strong technical support for mineral and petroleum exploration. Employment opportunities are excellent in the petroleum industry - demand far exceeds supply.
Additional career opportunities: in addition to the careers listed above, a Geology degree can open the door in several other areas:
Teaching: a high school teacher may teach a variety of science courses including earth science. High school teaching requires a B.Ed. in addition to a B.Sc.
University Teaching and Research: a university professor must have a Ph.D. degree. Professors are expected to conduct academic research and to prepare scholarly publications as well as teach students in classes and labs.
Research: a research geologist tries to understand the various physical, chemical, or biological processes that have shaped the Earth's development. New fields of research are opening in planetary science as we explore the vastness of our solar system. A Ph.D. degree is usually required.
Chemistry: a geochemist works in chemical laboratories designed to analyze the chemistry of rocks and minerals. Analytical laboratories are owned or operated mining and petroleum companies, government agencies, universities, or commercial companies.
Stocks and Investments: stockbrokers and investment analysts who have a strong geological background are vital to the financial community because so much capital is invested in mining and petroleum exploration and development. Most stock exchanges now employ geologists as consultants on the reliability of trading in mining and petroleum companies.
Law: lawyers with a strong geological background are uniquely positioned to understand the legal and geological complexities of disputes involving minerals, petroleum, mining, environmental effects, and law-of-the-sea. These lawyers may work as consultants or be retained by private companies and governments.
Gems: a gemologist, who first must be accredited by the Gemological Society, may work with a jeweler, conducting analysis and appraisal of jewelry.
Museums: a curator in a geological or scientific museum is responsible for the purchase, acquisition, and display of exhibits and the interpretation of collections and the geological displays for the public.
Business: a background in earth science is helpful and possibly essential, when combined with a Business degree (B.B.A., B.Comm., M.B.A.) for employment in a resource company or federal and provincial government agencies at middle and senior management positions.