Geology Careers: What Do Geologists Do?

Today, we’re going to dig some dirt on geology such as:

  • How much do geologists earn?
  • What do geologists do?
  • What types of jobs are there for geologists?

Because a career path in geology is never written in stone. Let’s explore.

What do exploration geologists do?

The goal of exploration geologists is to discover new and unfound resources. Actually without the legwork from geologists and prospectors, the resource extraction phase would never exist.

When prospecting for potential resources, there are 3 types of exploration types that geologists undertake.

  • GRASSROOTS EXPLORATION: Grassroots exploration searches for minerals in an area that has never been searched before.
  • BROWNFIELD EXPLORATION: Brownfield exploration is searching for additional minerals at a known site.
  • ON-SITE EXPLORATION: On-site exploration expands an existing mine site from its current extent.

Exploration geologists play a major role in resource extraction by collecting samples in the field. Using this field data, they interpret the data collected.

After mapping what’s below the surface, the search for mineral deposits and petroleum becomes narrowed down. For example, banded iron formations are a significant source of iron ore in which steel can be manufactured.

How much money do geologists make?

Geologist Salary

Geologists earn an average salary of 66,800$. If you look at the environmental science salary pyramid, geologists are in the mid-range earnings group.

There is high demand in the labor market for geologists. This trend should continue for some time depending on market conditions. Of course, this depends on education and years of experience.

It’s a diverse industry with at least 37 branches of geology where a geologist can dive into.

Generally, geologists work a good mix of indoor and outdoor services. Some geologists have the chance to explore new places and set foot where no one has been before.

Average Salary 66,800$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 12.6%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office or outdoor

What do engineering geologists do?

Geotechnical Engineer

If you’re more geared towards geotechnical design, then an engineering geologist career suits you best.

Their responsibilities include the analysis of rock and soil for underground and surface structures.

For example, they often assist in the design of engineering structures in these types of projects:

  • Dams
  • Buildings
  • Bridges
  • Tunnels
  • Roads

This type of geologist is familiar with rock mechanics and structural geologic mapping. In addition, they relate rocks with the physical and chemical structure and the processes that act on it.

How does geology tie into disasters, landforms and education?

Geology is truly a diverse field. We discover new things about our planet everyday thanks to it. For example, geology is tied into fields like:

  • DISASTER MANAGEMENT: We can better understand disaster management by analyzing plate tectonics. Through seismology and tomography, we can enhance prediction models for phenomena like earthquakes, landslides and volcanoes.
  • LANDFORM STUDY: There is bedrock and surficial geology. From geomorphology, we can begin to understand how Earth’s landforms develop and how they change over time.
  • GEOLOGIC HISTORY: When looking at rock strata, you’re looking at the underlying rock formations and when they were deposited. When geologists analyze a layer of rocks, they’re looking at a slice of history. Not only do geologists specialize in dating rocks, but they understand Earth’s geologic history and timeline in eras, periods and epochs.

The last word for geology careers

Geotechnical Engineer

Because geologists are tied to these types of markets, demand in geology careers can have a fair bit of fluctuation.

Some of the common employers who hire geologists are:

  • Mining
  • Petroleum
  • Engineering industries
  • Environmental management
  • Agriculture
Geologists have a saying – rocks remember.Neil Armstrong

Geology jobs websites

Geology Jobs (Indeed)
Rig Zone Jobs
Career Mine
USGS Geology Summer Intern Program
American Geosciences Institute Internship Program
Earthworks Jobs

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