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What Does a Geoscientist Do?

Do you love learning all about this planet we live on? Then you may enjoy a career as a geoscientist. This exciting career involves being outside, visiting new places, and helping protect the Earth’s natural resources. 

If the word geoscientist is new to you, you may be wondering, what are they? Or, what does one do? This career guide lays out everything you need to know, including how to become a geoscientist, types of geoscientists, and more.

Are you fascinated with studying the Earth through maps? Then consider becoming a GIS Analyst

Unity Geoscientist Blog Cover

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth’s composition, including the atmosphere, water, soil, and the Earth’s crust. A geoscientist’s job description can vary depending on where they work and at what level. This guide will help you navigate all the career possibilities for geoscientists. 

Career Path Overview for Geoscientist

Education Requirements

Bachelor’s Degree

Recommended Degree Program

B.S. in Environmental Science and Climate Change

Average Salary (2021)

$83,680

Workers Employed in U.S. (2020)

29,000

Projected Job Openings by 2030

2,000

Projected Growth Rate

7% (As fast as average)

Other Job Titles

Geologist, Earth Scientist, Geophysicist

Related Careers

Environmental EngineerHydrologist, and Sustainability Manager

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What are Geoscientists?

Are you still unclear on what is a geoscientist? To put it most simply, geoscientists are scientists who study the Earth. This includes studying the Earth’s crust, the minerals found in rocks, and other physical elements of the planet to understand how they have changed throughout history. They may also use this data to help find natural resources like metals and oil. Some geophysicists work to preserve the Earth’s natural resources, while others work to extract them. 

  • Geologists study rocks, including how they were formed and what they are composed of. 
  • Seismologists measure Earth’s movements. They study earthquakes and tsunamis and use technology to predict these events and help keep people safe. 
  • Geochemists study the composition of water, rocks, soil, and other natural resources. 
  • Geophysicists use physics to understand certain properties of the Earth, such as gravity and magnetic fields. 

While earth scientists take flora and fauna into account when studying the Earth, they usually do not work directly with animals. If you are interested in studying animals, consider a career as a wildlife biologist

Geoscientists Working In Cave

Where Do Geoscientists Work?

Now that you can answer the question, what do geoscientists do, let’s look at where they work. Based on data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 26% of geoscientists work for architectural, engineering, and related services. The next most common types of employers are management, consulting, and scientific services such as laboratories.

Geoscientists usually work full time, but they may have irregular hours when they are in the field. This job requires some travel to conduct fieldwork and monitor project progression. Scientists generally split their time between fieldwork, lab work, and office work. Entry-level geoscientists may be asked to do more fieldwork and lab testing than higher-level scientists who work primarily in offices, managing projects and traveling to meet with clients. 

Average Geoscientist Salary

According to the BLS, the median geoscientist salary is $83,680 per year. The top 10% earn $172,490 per year on average, while the bottom 10% earn $48,880 per year.

The salary of a geoscientist varies based on numerous factors, including experience, location, and industry. The highest-paying industries are oil and gas, mining, and the federal government.

Top 5 States for Geoscientist Salary in U.S.

State

Average Annual Salary

Average Hourly Rate

Texas

$144,950

$69.69

Oklahoma

$136,680

$65.71

Colorado

$107,750

$51.80

Massachusetts

$106,850

$51.37

California

$105,280

$50.61

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is the Job Outlook for Geoscientists? 

The need for geoscientists is predicted to remain steady for the next ten years with an increase of 7%. This rate is about as fast as the average employment growth across all occupations. In 2020, approximately 29,000 geophysicists were working in the United States, and experts predict that there will be 2,000 more jobs by 2030. Many of these new jobs will be working in the energy sector to help create alternative and renewable forms of energy. 

What Education is Needed to Become a Geoscientist? 

Most geoscientist jobs require a bachelor’s degree in geoscience or a related major such as geology or environmental science. This typically takes four years to complete after high school. Education includes laboratory and fieldwork experience. 

Many geophysicists must also acquire a license from their state, especially those working for the government or on any public services such as civil engineering projects. If you work for a private company, a license may not be required depending on what state you live in. Check your state for specific geoscientist licensure requirements.

Geoscientist High School Recommendations

You can begin preparing for your career in geoscience before you even start college. Take an environmental science elective if your high school offers one. Computer science and other science and math courses will give you an important foundation for understanding geoscience. Extracurriculars are another great opportunity to build your science, math, and technology skills. Look for a computer programming or sustainability club at your school.

Geoscientist College Education Recommendations

Geoscience is a multidisciplinary field of study combining earth science, math, engineering, and technology. Therefore, several majors could provide you with the education and skills needed to get a job as a geoscientist after graduation.

No matter which program you choose, make sure it includes geology courses, lab-based courses, and fieldwork. These are essential to becoming a qualified geoscientist. If you are interested in focusing on research, you may want to consider pursuing a master’s degree or Ph.D. in geoscience. Or, you can expand your geoscience skillset with a Master’s in Environmental Geographic Information Science

Geoscientist Working in the Field

Recommended Unity Degrees and Courses

  • B.S. in Environmental Science and Climate Change: This program provides academic and fieldwork experience that students need to succeed in careers as geoscientists. In this program, students learn how to collect samples from the air, soil, and water and analyze them to understand geologic processes and create solutions to environmental real-world problems. 
  • B.S. in Environmental Science: Unity College offers a hybrid environmental science bachelor’s degree that includes geology and data science courses. Students can choose to take any combination of online and in-person courses. 
  • M.S. in Environmental Science: While a master’s degree is not required for most entry-level geoscience jobs, it can expand your potential job opportunities. This online program from Unity College covers environmental analysis, natural resource management, and how to use geoscience to combat the negative effects of climate change.

Not ready to dive into a degree yet? Get a taste of what it’s like to be a geoscientist with a 5-week introductory online course in geology from Unity College. 

Explore More Career Paths Related to Geoscientist

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers solve problems using their knowledge of the Earth, math, and technology. They may develop solutions to clean a polluted river, for example. Like geoscientists, environmental engineers must have a strong understanding of the Earth’s composition. This job also requires fieldwork to analyze sites and monitor project progress. If you love creating, building, and solving problems, a career in environmental engineering may be right for you. 

Hydrologist

Hydrologists are like geoscientists, but they focus on studying water rather than all of Earth’s composition. Some hydrologists work for local utility companies and governments to maintain drinking water quality and availability. Others focus on helping to conserve groundwater and reduce contamination. Water is essential to all life on Earth, so the work hydrologists do is extremely important.