Help Students Pursue Non-Traditional Careers

This page is based on discussions at the 2013 Geoscience in the 21st Century Workforce workshop and stems from work by Deborah Bathke (University of Nebraska at Lincoln), Dave Mogk (Montana State University-Bozeman), Megan Pickard (Brigham Young University-Idaho), Craig Schiffries (Carnegie Institution of Washington), Karen Viskupic (Boise State University), Carolyn Wilson (American Geosciences Institute)
So-called traditional careers are usually associated with the mining and oil industries, but students with degrees in geoscience are well suited for many careers in other fields. Such careers include: policy, formal and informal education, public health, law, science writing, journalism, business, planning, illustration, media, real estate, elective or appointed office, and more.

What are non-traditional careers for geoscientists?

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) developed this infographic (right) as a part of the Geoscience Careers Roadshow to help students entering the workforce redefine what it means to have a career in geoscience. Having a successful geoscience career is not solely about mastering the technical fields of study, but additionally includes how students seamlessly integrate their interests and competencies to build a professional portfolio that will bolster their geoscience career. Recognizing the importance of emphasizing the transferability of skills across different fields is imperative to students' employability as geoscientists. This image is not meant to be definitive, but used as a tool to help those entering the workforce think outside the box. The colored rings signify the different sectors where geoscientists work. The wedges, in turn, represent the fields where geoscientists are employed and include different examples of occupations. Where the wedges intersect with the rings indicate that those fields are included in those sectors.

Marketable skills

Geoscientists have broad training in the sciences and mathematics. The following skills are associated with geoscience degrees and are transferrable to other fields:

  • Temporal and spatial reasoning
  • Connecting science to societal issues
  • Analyzing and interpreting incomplete data sets
  • Dealing with complexity
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Problem solving
  • Research skills (finding information, forming and testing hypotheses, synthesizing information)
  • Evaluating the credibility of information
  • Data analysis and statistics
  • Use of data from a variety of fields

Get the word out

Students may not be aware that a geoscience degree is a pathway to diverse careers. Advisors and professors can spread this message through:

  • Targeted messaging in introductory classes for non-science majors
  • Outreach to 2-year colleges
  • Presentations at orientation programs
  • Collaboration with campus recruiting and outreach programs
  • Working with current geoscience majors
  • Partnerships with university clubs associated with non-traditional jobs (e.g. journalism club)
  • Open house or open field trips
  • Inviting speakers with geoscience backgrounds in diverse fields to campus

Learn more about non-traditional careers