What is a Geophysical Engineer?

Geophysical Engineering is the scientific method behind locating and extracting different natural resources from the earth, including ores, minerals, precious gems, water, or gases.

Geophysical Engineers utilize their extensive knowledge of the earth to identify sites that may contain special mineral or stone deposits that could be of interest to mining companies and other corporations. They then plan how the resources will be drawn out of the earth in the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner. In addition, a Geophysical Engineer may improve upon the current extraction methods being used in operating mines.

Where Does a Geophysical Engineer Work?

Most Geophysical Engineers work in remote areas that could be utilized for mines or are currently being mined. This may require extensive travel and longer work hours for some. However, occasionally a mine will be located near a large city. Geophysical engineers with more experience may be managing operations from an office environment, which typically involves extensive communication with others via email and phone.

Most work full-time, though some work sites located in remote areas may require overtime or unusual scheduling.

What Is the Average Geophysical Engineer Salary?

Geophysical Engineers earn an average of $84,320 a year, with the highest 10% earning around $140,130 and the lowest 10% earning around $49,680.

Most work for private engineering firms, while others work for metal ore mining and coal mining companies.

StateTotal EmploymentBottom 25%Median SalaryTop 75%
New Mexico160$60,000$69,310$88,400
New York70$64,750$73,430$92,060
North Dakota100$72,890$85,110$94,360
West Virginia350$54,690$67,020$102,520

Table data taken from BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172151.htm)

What is the job demand for Geophysical Engineers?

The job demand for Geophysical Engineers is expected to increase by 12% in the next 10 years, which is about average among all other professions. The increasing demand for more resources is likely to fuel job growth. This profession is particularly friendly to individuals entering the occupation.

What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Geophysical Engineer?

Geophysical Engineers must earn a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited university, as this is required to obtain licensure. Most get their bachelor's degree in geological engineering or geology. Many of Geophysical Engineers go on to earn their master's degree, allowing them to gain more specialized knowledge in the field.

Licensure is required for all engineers, though the exact requirements vary by state. Typically it involves having a related degree, a certain amount of work experience, and passing a state exam.

Most engineers advance in their positions based on work experience, allowing them to eventually oversee a team of engineers rather than working under a manager.

Geophysical Engineering Related Degrees

What Kinds of Societies and Professional Organizations Do Geophysical Engineers Have?

Geophysical Engineers and those who wish to enter the field can also browse through these government websites and organizations for valuable resources:

  • Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) This United States agency of the Department of Labor is responsible for disseminating and looking out for the safety of the country's mines. This ensures that the mines are built in the best way possible to avoid accidents, cave ins, and other disasters that can result from poor mining techniques.
  • Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society (EEGS) is a scientific non-profit organization that encourages those involved in geophysical studies to continue learning and communicate. The group furthers these goals by holding a yearly Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP) and also offers an industry-specific journal.
  • Society for Mining, Metallurgy, & Exploration (SME) - This professional society attempts to further the careers of those involved in the mining and minerals industry. SME provides awards for members, classes, industry-specific publications, and annual meetings and exhibitions. In addition, the group advocates for responsible mining and mineral public policies.