Geology Careers

The study of Geology includes understanding the physical, chemical, and biological processes that are recorded in rocks, minerals, and Earth materials; and deciphering the planetary history. Geology is a broad science and integrates with other disciplines, such as chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, computer science, and geography. Course work in these disciplines, integrated with a geological framework, provides students with a thorough and broad understanding of the field. In addition, fieldwork is an essential component of geological studies.

Career Opportunities and Salary OutlooK

Many geologists are employed by engineering and consulting firms. These geologists work with their clients to solve specific problems such as evaluating the environmental hazards associated with landfills, testing groundwater and soil for pollutants, modeling groundwater flow and evaluating proposed development sites for earthquake and landslide hazards. Engineering and consulting firms hire geologists with a B.S., M.S. or Ph.D in geology, but most new hires are at the M.S. level. Other geologists are hired by oil and gas companies to help find new oil and gas reservoirs by designing and interpreting seismic surveys and studying geologic maps, cross-sections and rock cores from drill holes. Various federal government agencies also hire geologists, such as the U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Mines. Many state and local government agencies also hire geologists, such as the California Division of Mines and Geology and water districts. Geologists are hired by government agencies to work in various regulatory programs, such as evaluating mineral and energy resource exploration and development permit applications, enforcing reclamation and cleanup, testing soil and water, inspecting building sites, and evaluating reports submitted by consulting geologists. Government agencies also hire geologists with advanced degrees to perform geologic mapping and research. Government agencies hire geologists at all levels (B.S., M.S., Ph.D.) with about half of the new hires being at the M.S. level. Another career field for geologists is science education. Graduates with a B.S. in geology may pursue a teaching credential to teach Earth Science at the K-12 level. Those who obtain advanced degrees in geology may teach at the college or university level.

Geology is a Great Career

There is a high demand for geologists. You can expect to make good money right out of school. A wide range of people need geologists:

  • Engineering Firms
  • Petroleum Companies
  • Environmental Consulting Firms
  • The U.S. Geological Survey
  • The Department of Energy
  • NASA
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Manufacturers
  • Utility Companies
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Mining Companies
  • Research and Development Agencies
  • Museums
  • High Schools and Middle Schools
  • Environmental Law

Starting salaries in geological and related sciences with bachelor’s degrees were $37,431 (2010) on par with chemistry; for MS degrees starting salaries were $56,689. Overall salaries for the geosciences related occupations range from $62,880 (State Gov) to $132,210 (oil and gas).Salary information from the American Geological Institute (www.agiweb.org).

Career Fields

  • Crystallographer
  • Earth Science Writer
  • Ecologist
  • Engineering Geologist
  • Environmental Analyst
  • Environmental Lawyer
  • Geochemist
  • Geodesist
  • Geologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Hydrologist
  • Laboratory Assistant
  • Mineralogist
  • Oceanographer
  • Paleontologist
  • Petrologist
  • Seismologist
  • Soils Engineer
  • Stratigrapher
  • Science Teacher

Why is the CSUSB Geology Program a Great Choice?

  1. Small class size ensures personalized attention.
  2. Outstanding faculty with specialties in:
    1. Paleontology, stratigraphy, sedimentology, Earth Science education
    2. Igneous and metamorphic petrology, mineralogy
    3. Structural geology, tectonics, regional geology
    4. Neotectonics and seismic hazard analysis
    5. Earth Science education
    6. Hydrology
  3. Current facilities include basic rock preparation and sediment analysis equipment, petrographic polarizing and dissecting microscopes, a video microscopy and photomicrography workstation with floppy disc recorder/player, scanning electron microscope, x-ray diffraction workstation, surveying equipment, a seismograph, a 4WD vehicle, GPS receivers and antennas, handheld GPS receivers, digital cameras, Mac and PC laptops, and several collections of geological specimens.

Useful Links: Careers in Geosciences

CSUSB Career Development Center

Geological Society of America's career opportunities links listing

American Geological Institute's Careers in Geosciences brochure

American Geological Institute's career opportunities homepage

American Water Resources Association jobs listing

U.S. Geological Survey jobs page
includes: Job openings, automatic email notification of jobs you are interested in, information on USGS student programs, benefits, and vacancies, Volunteer for Science Program

California Department of Water Resources employment information
includes: Job Vacancies, current exams, Student employment, Apprenticeship Program, Careers in water, Whom to contact, State Application Form

California Division of Mines and Geology employment information