Career Opportunities in Geology

Over the last 15 years, the majority of Marshall University geology graduates have found employment in environmental, engineering, and geotechnical companies. In the past decade, increased demand and prices for oil and natural gas, as well as for clean energy, have accelerated hiring of geology graduates by the petroleum industry, with starting salaries of $62,000 (B.S. in Geology). Median salary for students with a M.S. in Geology degree are $100,000 – 110,000.

Demand for geologists is expected to continue to rise by 7% with the addition of 3,100 openings per year over the next ten years (through 2030).

Moreover, a study in 2015 suggests Geology students are the happiest on college campuses.

For more information on careers in Geosciences download the Status of Recent Geoscience Graduates PDF from the American Geosciences Institute (AGI).


What is a Geoscientist?

A geologist, or geoscientist, is concerned with the physical and chemical makeup and history of the Earth. Many of the natural resources upon which human society is built, are found by geologists. Geologists provide fundamental data and knowledge for policies that affect the environment, public safety, health and welfare of societies.


What do Geologists do?

Geology is a discipline with many areas of specialization. Some of these include:

  • Geophysicists — use physics to study the interior structure and dynamics of the Earth.
  • Geochemists — investigate the chemical aspects of rocks, minerals, soils and water.
  • Petroleum Geologists — explore for oil and natural gas.
  • Hydrologists — study the movement of surface waters.
  • Hydrogeologists — investigate the occurrence, movement and quality of ground water.
  • Engineering Geologists — study the factors relevant to construction of buildings, dams, bridges and other structures.
  • Environmental Geologists — work on solving and preventing problems that degrade our environment such as pollution, waste disposal, urban development, and geologic hazards.
  • Sedimentologists — investigates the processes of transport, deposition and formation of sedimentary rock.


Where do Geologists Work?

Geologists work in the field, laboratory, and the office. Duties commonly take the geologist to the field to gather data and samples that are returned to the laboratory for analysis. Data are compiled and tabulated, plots and maps are drawn, and the results are evaluated–all leading to the writing of reports. The tools used by geologists vary from the simple rock hammer and hand lens in the field to the most sophisticated and high tech electron microscope, chemical/elemental analysis instruments, and computer software used in the laboratory.

The largest number of geologists are employed in the fossil fuels industry/environmental firms. State and Federal governments hire many geologists performing duties in research, regulatory functions and teaching. After gaining experience and a good reputation, many geologists go into private practice as consultants. Dwindling energy, mineral and water resources, increased environmental concerns, and the need for clean energy sources present challenging careers for geologists. At the present, employment opportunities in the renewable energy, environmental, and geotechnical areas are on the rise.


Contact Us:

Department of Natural Resources & Earth Sciences

Office: Morrow Library 116

Office Hours: Mon – Fri, 9:00am – 4:00pm


Phone: 304-696-6498

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