Geological Sciences : Careers

Career Information and Further Study

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, geoscientists held about 33,600 jobs in 2008, while another 8,100 were employed as environmental scientists and hydrologists, excluding the many individuals who held environmental science and geosciences faculty positions at colleges and universities. About 23 percent of geoscientists were employed in architectural, engineering, and related services and 19 percent worked for oil and gas extraction companies. State agencies such as state geological surveys and state departments of conservation employed another 9 percent of geoscientists. Eight percent worked for the federal government, including geologists, geophysicists, and oceanographers, mostly within the U.S. Department of the Interior for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and within the U.S. Department of Defense. Among hydrologists, 26 percent were employed in architectural, engineering, and related services, and 19 percent worked for management, scientific, and technical consulting services. The federal government employed about 27 percent of hydrologists, mostly within the U.S. Department of the Interior for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and within the U.S. Department of Defense.

Employment projections suggest an 18 % increase in all geoscience jobs between 2008 and 2018. Due to the relatively low number of qualified geoscience graduates and the large number of expected retirements, opportunities are expected to be good in most areas of geoscience. Employment in management, scientific, and technical consulting services should continue to grow as more geoscientists work as consultants. Many geoscientists work in the exploration and production of oil and gas. In the long term, continued high oil prices are expected to maintain demand for workers who can find new resource deposits. Demand will also be spurred by a continuing emphasis on the need for energy, environmental protection, responsible land management, and water-related issues.

Salary Information

According to the American Geological Institute's recent report on the Status of Geoscience Workforce, starting salaries in geosciences have been competitive with other science and engineering fields. Salary estimates released by Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2009 indicated that the mean annual salary for geoscientists was $92,710. Geoscientists in the petroleum and mining industries earned the highest salaries (6,270) and those in state government earned the least ($62,550). Geoscientist faculty earned a mean annual salary of $74,770 in 2008. Additionally, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, average starting salaries for college graduates with geoscience bachelor's degrees were $40,786 in 2007.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, beginning salary offers for 2005 graduates with bachelors degrees in geology and the geological sciences averaged about $39,365 a year; graduates with a masters degree averaged $41,100; graduates with a doctoral degree averages $57,500.

Updated: 13 Nov 2012 06:01:16 EST