Geoscientist Career Overview

What Is a Geoscientist?

Female Geologist With Colleague Studying Graphical Display of Oil and Gas Bearing Rock on Screens
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Monty Rakusen / Cultura / Getty Images 

A geoscientist studies the earth's composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the earth. He or she may search for natural resources like groundwater, metals, and petroleum, or help environmental scientists clean up and preserve the environment. Someone working in this field may also be called a geologist or geophysicist.

Quick Facts

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2017, geoscientists earned a median annual salary of $89,850 per year.
  • This occupation employed almost 32,000 people.
  • Oil and gas extraction companies hire the largest number of geoscientists, followed by engineering firms and (last but not least) management, scientific, and technical consultants.
  • Geoscientists spend time both in offices and in the field, and sometimes travel is a part of the job.
  • The job outlook for geoscientists is good. The BLS expects employment to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024.

Roles and Responsibilities

These are some typical job duties you should expect to take on if you choose this career path:

  • Interact with all parts of a project's lifecycle from concept through acquisition to pilot appraisal
  • Provide responsive, expert geologic advice to all related departments
  • Provide accurate and pertinent scientific data according to agreed upon methods, procedures, and techniques
  • Use geostatistical methods to assess environmental datasets
  • Provide supervision and guidance to assigned junior staff regarding the performance of specific project tasks
  • Assist with commercial analysis for continued development and new opportunity generation
  • Make technical presentations to internal audiences regarding projects, and represent the company externally as needed
  • Perform and coordinate 3D geocellular reservoir modeling projects in multiple play types, to develop field development strategies to maximize recovery, and to coordinate modeling efforts with outside contractors

How to Become a Geoscientist

To get an entry-level job, you will need a bachelor's degree in geology. Most employers will also accept a degree in engineering, physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, or computer science. However, coursework in geology is a must. A master's degree will open more doors, and a Ph.D. is necessary if you'd like to become a researcher. You'll also need one in case you'd like to teach at a college or university.

Several states license geoscientists. Each state sets its minimum educational requirements and may administer an exam. To learn about the requirements in the state you want to work, explore the Licensed Occupations Tool from CareerOneStop.

The Soft Skills Required

In addition to education and licensing requirements, you must also have certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed in this occupation.

  • Critical Thinking: You must use logic to solve problems and make decisions.
  • Reading Comprehension: Geoscientists need to be able to understand esoterically-written documents.
  • Communication: Excellent speaking and writing skills will allow you to convey information to your colleagues. Also, strong listening skills will facilitate your understanding of the information colleagues share with you.
  • Interpersonal Skills: This skill set, which includes the ability to understand non-verbal cues to persuade others is essential to functioning as a member.

What Employers Will Expect From You

In addition to knowledge of the field, employers will look for the following when hiring geoscientists: 

  • Ability to plan and organize initiatives to meet predetermined target dates and deadlines
  • Successful completion of 40 hours of Occupational Safety and Health Administration training, annual 8-hour refresher courses, first aid training (every three years), CPR training (every two years), and annual medical monitoring
  • Demonstrated ability to make timely and effective decisions
  • Willingness to travel as needed
  • Detail-oriented and ability to keep accurate notes

Whether This Occupation Is a Good Fit for You

If this career path sound right for you, you should probably take the Holland Code: IRC (Investigative, Realistic, Conventional) and the MBTI Personality Types: ISTJ, ISTP, ESFP, ISFP tests to see if your personality is the right fit.

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks
If you're interested in a career similar to geoscientist, according to the BLS, the following median annual salaries and requirements apply.

 DescriptionMedian Annual Wage (2017)Minimum Required Education/Training
HydrologistStudies the distribution and circulation of water, and its physical properties

$89,850  

Master's Degree in geoscience, environmental science or engineering with a concentration in hydrology or water sciences
Geological and Petroleum TechnicianAssists scientists with exploring and extracting natural resources$54,190Associate Degree in Applied Science
ConservationistHelps landowners protect natural resources$61,480Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science, Forestry, Biology or Agricultural Science