What is a Geoscientist?

What Does a Geoscientist Do?

Geoscience is the study of the earth's history and how it functions and interacts with the surrounding biospheres. Geoscientists study the earth's many different facets, including its geological composition, processes, and history. Their primary way of doing this is often through planning and conducting studies in the field, which involves traveling to a specific location and collecting samples. Geoscientists then analyze these samples and share their findings with any interested parties, as well as other scientists. Sometimes they use other tools like aerial photographs or drilling records to help locate deposits of oil, precious gems, and other resources.

Where Does a Geoscientist Work?

Geoscientists usually spend a great deal of time working in the field, but also work in laboratories. Fieldwork typically involves traveling to distant and sometimes isolated locations for extended periods of time. They may be required to brave adverse weather conditions and perform physically demanding tasks. When working in the lab, they are often required to utilize advanced equipment and specialized computer programs to analyze data.

Most work full-time with a great deal of potential for overtime or strange hours when conducting fieldwork.

What Is the Average Geoscientist Salary?

Geoscientists earn $90,890 a year on average, with the highest 10% earning around $187,200 and the lowest 10% earning around $48,270.

Most of these scientists work for oil and gas extraction companies, while others work for private engineering services and consulting companies. A smaller percentage work for the state or federal government.

StateTotal EmploymentBottom 25%Median SalaryTop 75%
Alabama310$51,060$66,160$81,240
Alaska610$72,940$101,580$146,260
Arizona410$50,920$61,230$82,450
Arkansas110$38,020$57,410$81,320
California5,170$71,940$97,170$116,000
Colorado2,490$77,440$100,300$138,280
Connecticut140$54,240$67,850$81,000
Delaware80$65,890$73,380$85,440
District of Columbia70---
Florida650$52,910$70,170$95,150
Georgia300$51,830$62,620$73,990
Hawaii80$67,800$90,910$121,720
Idaho130$59,310$68,880$80,280
Illinois340$65,050$85,550$103,640
Indiana190$46,250$59,290$81,040
Iowa50---
Kansas230$52,690$71,090$91,950
Kentucky200$46,600$60,400$77,990
Louisiana910$61,880$90,420$116,830
Maine100$56,100$64,220$72,130
Maryland580$62,910$76,840$105,070
Massachusetts190$56,850$75,450$98,390
Michigan350$54,700$66,080$78,550
Minnesota130$59,700$77,440$98,490
Mississippi430$68,060$89,440$106,360
Missouri160$46,520$67,950$83,480
Montana230$49,780$72,410$103,310
Nebraska150$44,700$59,300$94,990
Nevada740$63,930$85,770$109,250
New Hampshire70$56,000$75,390$107,370
New Jersey630$61,970$78,300$97,750
New Mexico280$53,530$66,500$89,450
New York940$54,310$67,780$88,180
North Carolina560$53,890$65,190$78,310
North Dakota-$67,600$74,740$84,850
Ohio290$58,440$71,440$84,800
Oklahoma1,210$71,140$118,110$173,660
Oregon410$53,560$62,540$80,280
Pennsylvania1,030$50,940$63,630$84,200
Puerto Rico-$43,130$51,860$58,630
Rhode Island110$49,600$64,610$85,770
South Carolina150$30,890$41,630$75,330
South Dakota60$45,350$54,870$66,190
Tennessee200$43,260$55,050$78,940
Texas10,470$91,400$139,870-
Utah340$55,810$68,350$84,860
Vermont30$56,520$76,700$92,560
Virginia450$59,390$89,450$127,130
Washington1,120$61,190$79,110$102,690
West Virginia130$40,480$49,900$74,670
Wisconsin190$60,200$73,630$90,590
Wyoming220$58,340$72,120$96,330

Table data taken from BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes192042.htm)

What Is the Job Demand for Geoscientists?

The job demand for Geoscientists is expected to increase by 16% in the next 10 years, which is faster than most other occupations. Growing demand for environmental resources and improvements in extraction technologies are increasing the demand for this profession, as well as the design and construction of alternative energy fields.

What Are the Educational Requirements to Become a Geoscientist?

Geoscientists require a bachelor's degree in geosciences, geology, physics, or related field for entry-level positions, though this is rarely sufficient for achieving a higher paying position. Most actually hold a master's or Ph.D., particularly if they are seeking out research or teaching positions.

Possessing computer knowledge is also incredibly important for this position, meaning that those wishing to enter the field should acquire as much hands-on experience with specialized programs as possible. In addition, some Geoscientists may need to be licensed in some states.

Degrees Related to Geoscience

What Kind of Societies and Professional Organizations Do Geoscientists Have?

Geoscientists and those who wish to enter the field can also browse through these organizations for valuable resources:

  • Geological Society of America is the foremost professional association for geologists of all stripes. It has 18 divisions, including one for Environmental and Engineering Geology. It also organizes networking opportunities through geoscience travel and tours.
  • American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is a non-profit organization that provides numerous sources of industry-specific information in the Geoscience field through publications, annual conferences, and encouraging communication across different disciplines. This organization also works to increase public awareness of environmental health and safety.
  • Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) is an international professional organization dedicated to bolstering women's role in Geoscience. They provide scholarships, awards, mentoring opportunities, and networking services for women hoping to advance their careers or young women breaking into the field. In addition, the organization offers numerous industry-specific publications and public events to encourage communication in the field.