Geoscientists in the Workforce: An Overview
What do geoscientists do?
- Natural resource exploration and production
- Environmental assessment and remediation
- Atmosphere, hydrosphere, and natural hazard observation and forecasting
- Earth system investigation and modeling
- Education and public outreach
- Scientific writing, editing, and multimedia production
- Law, forensics, software development, and public health
Many professional organizations provide information about geoscience careers and the geoscience workforce. Below are a few examples of videos and other resources that describe geoscience careers, including technological careers that require an associates degree. You can find a more extensive list of resources across the geosciences on the Professional Society Career Resources page.
- variety of programs and careers including energy technology, environmental engineering, environmental technology, geographic information sciences, geospatial technology, green technology, water treatment technology, and wind technology.
- The Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center provides information about the knowledge and skills needed for various technical marine occupations including oceanographic instrumentation technicians, hydrographic survey technicians, and marine technicians who work aboard research vessels.
- The Workforce Program of the American Geosciences Institute include a careers brochure, career videos, career FAQs, profiles of geoscientists, a guide to geoscience careers and employers, and more.
- The Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists has resources for undergraduate students including details about the profession of engineering geology, environmental geology, and hydrogeology, as well as case histories.
- OceanCareers.com includes career profiles, employer profiles, interviews with interesting people, and more.
What degree is needed for different types of careers?
There are many pathways into the geoscience workforce, ranging from those that require an associates degree to that that require a PhD and post-doctoral experience. The chart below illustrates some of the workforce possibilities for those with different degrees. Of course, the specific requirements for a position might be different for different employers, in different locations, and for geoscientists with different levels of experience. Check out the Career Pathways page for more information on what kinds of jobs are typically available at particular levels of qualification.
How much do geoscientists earn?
US Department of Labor
The US Department of Labor Occupational Outlook provides information about various careers (workplace, entry-level education, employment outlook, median salary, and more). The dollar figures listed constitute the median pay for that position in 2010 from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey.
- Atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists ($87,780)
- Environmental science and protection technicians ($41,380)
- Geographers ($72,800)
- Geological and petroleum technicians ($54,020)
- Geoscientists ($82,500)
- Hydrologists ($75,600)
Career Cornerstone Center, using data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, gives the median income for all geoscientists = $79,160. The median income in particular industries employing a lot of geoscientists are:
- Oil and gas extraction $127,560
- Federal Executive Branch $90,220
- Management, scientific, & technical consulting services $62,070
- State government $57,700
AGI Geoscience Workforce Program Reports
The American Geosciences Institute conducts extensive surveys of the geoscience workforce and puts together periodic reports on the state of affairs in the sector. The most recent report was published in 2011 but previous reports are also available.