Overview of the Current and Future Workforce
Information on this page is largely derived from data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), and from a National Academy of Science report, Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries: A Call to Action.
Employment Statistics from 2010 to 2020
Some highlights from Bureau of Labor Statistics data:
- 33,800 geoscientists employed in 2010
- 89,400 environmental scientists and specialists
- 7,600 hydrologists
- The most prevalent employment sectors for geoscientists are architectural, engineering and related services; oil and gas extraction and management; and scientific and technical consulting services.
- 17,100 geoscience jobs and 16,700 environmental science jobs expected to be added in the next 10 years.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21% increase in geoscience jobs between 2010 and 2020. This outpaces the national average of 14%.
- For environmental scientists, job growth is expected to be 19% between 2010 and 2020. "Most employment growth for environmental scientists and specialists is projected to be in private consulting firms that help clients monitor and manage environmental concerns and comply with regulations."
- For geoscientists, the largest increase of jobs will be in scientific, management and technical consulting. Perkins (2011) describes this trend as "driven both by increased demand in the private sector and by the US government's increasing inclination to outsource work rather than hire new employees." Perkins, 2011
- Government jobs are not projected to increase as fast as private sector jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 7% increase at the Federal level and a slightly larger increase of 8.7% in state government (Perkins, 2011).
- The American Geosciences Institute reports that approximately 1,500 graduate degree recipients in the geosciences are expected to transition into the workforce each year.
- Over the next 10-15 years there is expected to be an additional boost to hiring as current employees retire.
- A shortfall of qualified employees is expected.
The Aging Workforce and Coming Shortfall of Employees
From Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries: A Call to Action (2013), by the National Academy of Science
In a 2013 report on the energy and mining industries, the National Academies of Sciences reports that the current pipeline of students and workers with strong STEM skills will not be adequate to fill the needs of the workforce in these fields. The report cites that poor preparation of high school students in STEM disciplines, high dropout rates, and lack of alternative pathways to high school graduation are reinforcing the problem. A potential shortage of faculty underscores the risk of losing the capacity to train new students for careers in energy and mining (NAS, 2013).
International growth is also expected to add to the need for qualified geoscientists. "Rapid economic expansion in India, China and the rest of the developing world is expected to boost international demand for geoscience graduates. Highly skilled geoscientists will be needed to help identify and develop oil, gas and mineral resources, as well as to help recognize and ameliorate natural and manmade environmental hazards in these developing markets" (Perkins, 2011).
American Geosciences Institute, AGI Geoscience Workforce Program ReportsBureau of Labor Statistics:
Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries: A Call to Action (2013), by the National Academy of Science, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources. Findings and Recommendations (pdf) of this report.
Perkins, Sid, 2011, Geosciences: Earth works, Nature 473, 243-244. doi:10.1038/nj7346-243a. Published online May 11, 2011.