What Is a Geomagnetist?

Geomagnetists are a type of geologist that studies the magnetic fields of the Earth, and their causes and effects.

What Does a Geomagnetist Do?

Geomagnetists are specialist type of geologist, one of the oldest physical sciences. Where geologists study rocks and the physical processes of the Earth, geomagnetists study that which cannot be seen - the magnetic processes of geological features and the Earth as a whole. Mostly, the geomagnetism of the Earth is a result of the spinning on its axis as it passes through its solar year around the sun. There are other forcings though. Some magnetic processes are the result of “flaws” on the planet's surface. Mountain ranges, ocean trenches and grabens, shifting tectonics all have an effect to a certain degree on the geomagnetic field of the planet.

Their understanding in this specialized area is vital to our understanding of the formation of the Earth and other planets, but it is also useful in several industries. Studying the magnetic fields of the Earth can help us look for certain resources and predict where they might be. They will work alongside other professionals in a team, studying one small aspect of the geosciences in a larger project.

Where Does a Geomagnetist Work?

Geomagnetism is a small subfield within the broader field of geology. The majority of qualified geomagnetists will work in research at public science institutes, university departments and at private research bodies. They will work alongside environmental geologists and other geoscientists, physicists and even astronomers and astrophysicists in research. Much of this work is for the purpose of understanding how the planetary processes begin or are influenced by magnetic fields.

There are applications and uses for geomagnetism in industry. They are of particular use in prospecting. Therefore, there will always be job opportunities in mining for precious metals and gems. There are a high number of job opportunities in the fossil fuel industry. Searching for new threads of coal, for pockets of oil and gas uses data on geomagnetism. There will be certain signatures in the readings that suggest where these resources exist.

The same information will suggest water sources, their data useful for water resource engineering. This can be useful for urban planning (when building the infrastructure for new towns for example), for water sources for irrigation, and for planning work by charity groups, for example installing wells and water supplies for developing countries. Scientific data is vital for this for effective planning.

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What Is the Average Geomagnetist Salary?

There is no specific salary statistic data set as this is a small niche within the broader geoscience classification. The 2020 median pay for geoscientists was $93,580. The highest salaries are available in oil and gas extraction with a median of $125,670.*

Geomagnetism Jobs & Job Description

Studying solar storms in space and their impact on human life is a small portion of what a Geomagnetist does every day. The duties of a Geomagnetist can vary greatly from job to job, however, generally, the requirements and duties can include:

  • A Bachelor's of Science degree in physics or related field of study
  • Theoretical and practical knowledge of the geomagnetic field and how it changes over time and through space
  • Ability to collect and analyze geomagnetic field information from Earth and outer space; work is mainly completed in a laboratory setting
  • Strong technical knowledge in using satellites, GIS and industry- or lab-specific computer monitoring equipment
  • Ability to create comprehensive reports and databases summarizing field information collected
  • Produce significant qualitative and quantitative results studying the changes of the geomagnetic field over time
  • Efficiency in clearly communicating various types of data using different methods, such as verbally, written, graphically, or using databases
  • Use results of geomagnetic information analyzed to apply to modern technological implications
  • Share results and analyses with colleagues in the scientific community
  • Track and record all geomagnetic storms or disturbances and determine any Earth impacts, such as changes to our ozone layer
  • Provide information to clients, governments or stakeholders on the impacts of the changing geomagnetic field

A Senior Geomagnetist will access many of the same duties and requirements as an entry level Geomagnetist. A Senior Geomagnetist may also perform:

  • A Master's degree or Ph.D. in physics or another related field of scientific study
  • Effective presentation skills and the ability to present scientific information to audiences at a variety of technical levels
  • Oversee work completed by entry-level Geomagnetists and scientists
  • Review reports and analyses and provide constructive recommendations and feedback
  • Manage projects and investigations and make procedural changes to increase productivity
  • Design budgets that outline all costs of projects
  • Determine environmentally sustainable and practical uses for geomagnetic field data and outcomes
  • Develop periodical reports summarizing large quantities of information
  • Design investigations and use simulations for testing practical uses for the geomagnetic field
  • Measure and record any geomagnetic storms occurring
  • Provide predictions to forecast future changes to the geomagnetic field

What Is the Job Demand for Geomagnetists?

It is expected that the job demand for geoscientists in general will grow around 7% between 2020 and 2030.* Most of this available work will come from two sectors: work in fossil fuel prospecting, and environmental protection. It is on record that this area is a recognized job shortage. More graduates will be required to keep up with demand, especially as the industry requirements shift. The most jobs are available in Texas in fossil fuel industries at present and this state is the highest payer too.

What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Geomagnetist?

There are no dedicated geomagnetism degrees at present. The community is small as it is a niche of geology. To become a geomagnetist, candidates need to take undergraduate degrees in physics or geology and incorporate elements of the other in their choices of minors and electives. Geomagnetism is the study of the physical world and the invisible processes of the planet, and how the two interact. Students should also take math where available. This will improve the student's chances of a place on their desired postgraduate course of study.

There are more choices of master's degrees so students need not limit themselves to physics or geology, although this may be the best and safest choice. Other options for master's degree studies include Earth Sciences (which will give a broader study than geology or physics), geochemistry or geophysics.

In most cases, a bachelor's degree should be enough for most entry level jobs. Students should not experience too much difficulty in accessing their desired career path. Postgraduate courses are suitable for those who wish to eventually run their own projects or have a greater level of responsibility. Research jobs may be dependent on graduates with a master's or doctorate degree. Teaching will require a doctorate, especially where this will include research funding.

Geomagnetism - Related Degrees

What Kind Of Societies and Professional Organizations Do Geomagnetist Have?

Geomagnetism has a number of professional organizations:

  • World Data Centre for Geomagnetism: Presently part of the British Geological Survey, and set up by the World Data System, this enormous resource provides essential data on geomagnetism for the global community of researchers
  • Indian Institute of Geomagnetism: India's premier geology science institute is focusing on geomagnetism, recording of data, and establish labs and research projects to better understand India's geology

*2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for geoscientists reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.

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