How to Become a Geoscientist


Career Path Guide

To become a geoscientist, you'll need to begin by determining if this field is right for you. If you’re interested in a well-paying career in which you can work outside and study the structure, composition and processes of the earth, you may want to consider working in this profession.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to become a geoscientist. We've also included helpful occupational information, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Geoscientist

To become an entry-level geoscientist, you'll need to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in geology, geophysics, geochemistry or a closely related field such as environmental or earth science. While you're earning your undergraduate degree, you should be getting a good idea of where your interests and ambitions lie.


To work as a consultant you will need a master of science degree in any of the aforementioned fields, or a closely related field.


Alternatively, if you plan to work in a research and university teaching position, a Ph.D. is needed. Many geoscientists also choose to continue their training as post-doctoral fellows after receiving their Ph.Ds.


Tip for Success: Most colleges and universities in Canada and the United States offer either a geology or environmental science program, and many of them allow you to customize your course load to some extent, based on your career goals and interests.





General Job Description

Geoscientists aim to discover commercially viable and exploitable reserves of natural resources, such as oil and gas by interpreting geophysical, geochemical and geological data to develop models of the earth's subsurface. Geo-scientists may also provide expert advice for engineering projects.



Typical Job Duties

• Provide advice to senior management and engineering teams concerning geological factors affecting exploration

• Assess the potential quality of mineral and hydrocarbon resources

• Monitor the acquisition of data

• Collect and model available data

• Implement new technologies into geological modeling and seismic processing

• Create new opportunities to access remaining resource reserves

• Interpret data and models to assist drilling engineers in determining optimal drilling locations

• Conduct geological risk analysis of proposed exploration targets

• Use technical software to interpret data for the purpose of determining subsurface geology

• Identify and anticipate natural occurrences such as slope erosion, landslides, soil instability, subsidence, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions

• Identify deposits of construction materials and determine their characteristics and suitability for use as concrete aggregates, road fill or for other applications





Gain Relevant Career Experience as a Student

Landing an internship opportunity, working with professors and other faculty on research projects, or getting a summer job in a relevant career field, are all great ways to add impressive content to your resume and gain career experience. Speak to your school's career services office, as well as your professors and other faculty, in order to learn about any available positions. 



Career Advancement Possibilities

Geoscientists typically receive greater responsibility and independence in their work as they become more experienced. Furthering their education can also lead to greater responsibility in their career. Geoscientists with a Ph.D. are usually responsible to directing research projects and overseeing the employees and students on the research team.



Working Conditions Typical to This Profession

The work setting for geoscientists can vary greatly, depending on who their employer is, what their duties of the day are, or which project they are working on. They typically split time between working in an office setting performing research and data analysis, and working in a field setting for the purpose of collecting data and samples.


The physical requirements and schedule of the job can vary significantly for geoscientists depending on the work setting they find themselves in. For example, working in an office setting provides little in the way of physical challenge, although it can involve eye stain caused by working with computers for extended periods of time. In an office setting, geoscientists typically work a normal weekday-working schedule.


In a field setting, the work of a geoscientist can become quite physically demanding, as they may be required to travel great distances over rough terrain on foot in order to collect data and samples, as well as work and live in remote areas for several months at a time.



Who Employs Geoscientists?

There are many organizations representing a variety of industry sectors that are interested in acquiring and retaining individuals with the skills, knowledge and competencies that geoscientists have; examples include:


• Federal and provincial/state governments

• Colleges and universities

• Engineering consulting companies

• Environmental consulting companies

• Oil, gas and mining companies

• Service firms to oil, gas and mining companies

• Non-ferrous metal smelting and refining companies



How to Get a Job as a Geoscientist

Now that you've acquired an education, a career focus, skills in botany and research experience, you're ready to become a geoscientist! The last thing you have to do is nail the interview...once you earn one.


Your last step to becoming a geoscientist is to make a list of possible employers and suitable positions, and start handing out resumes. Do your research and figure out which companies are hiring geoscientists and related positions; these employers will be in a variety of sectors.



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has "geoscientist" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available:




Geoscientist Salary

The salary level of geoscientists can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including whether or not the work full time, where they work, their level of education and training, their level of experience and many other factors.


Geoscientist Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the median annual wage for workers in the "Geoscientists" occupational group is $91,130 (May, 2018 figures).



Salary - Canada: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the "Geoscientists and oceanographers" occupational group earn and average of $128,940 per year. According to WorkBC (The Province of British Columbia), those working in the same occuaptional group earn an annual provincial median salary of $79,997.



Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to "geoscientist", as they involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.



Environmental Scientist

Fluvial Geomorphologist


Soil Scientist




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a geoscientist.


Certifications in Alberta:Geoscientist.” (n.d.). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved December 1, 2019.

Life, Physical & Social Science:Geoscientists.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved December 1, 2019.

Explore Careers:Geoscientists and oceanographers.” Jytte Martinussen (December 12, 2018.) WorkBC website. Retrieved December 1, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Geoscientist

Scholarships in our database that are relevant for becoming a geoscientist are all of those that can be found on our Environmental Science Scholarships and Geology Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below can help set an excellent educational foundation for this profession:


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