The Geosciences include a range of vibrant, relevant scientific disciplines with good job opportunities and a wide variety of careers. According to the American Geosciences Institute:
Geoscientists study the Earth's physical composition, structure, history, and the natural processes. They provide information to society for use in solving problems and establishing policies for resource management, environmental protection, public health, safety, and welfare. Geoscientists are concerned about Earth issues. Is there a global warming trend? How and where should we dispose of industrial wastes? How can we satisfy society's growing demands for energy, yet conserve natural resources for future generations?
Geoscientists discover and develop supplies of fossil fuels, groundwater, construction materials and mineral ores. They understand the processes that affect the quality of the natural environment. They study and mitigate geohazards such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, and landslides. They explore and discover new ideas about the natural world from the depths of the oceans and the core of the Earth to the outer reaches of space.
Most of all, geoscientists enjoy the Earth. It is an outdoor laboratory filled with opportunities to observe Earth processes in action. By applying knowledge of forces that shape the Earth, geoscientists seek to reconstruct the past and anticipate the future.
Examples of geoscience careers
Most of these jobs listed below require some post-BA training. If you are considering a geoscience career that is science-focused, strongly consider majoring in chemistry, biology, physics, math, or computer science and ensure that you complete two semesters each of calculus, physics, and general chemistry. If you are interested in a career where an understanding of geoscience is important but you would not actually be doing science, then Environmental Studies, Economics, History, Political Science, or some other major might be more appropriate.
- Academia (faculty, research faculty, laboratory instructor, technician)
- Private sector (environmental consulting, groundwater remediation, stream restoration, geotechnical engineering, mining, petroleum extraction, water resources, air and water quality, environmental law, regulation compliance)
- Non-profits (climate education and advocacy, wilderness protection, science education policy, science writing and journalism)
- Education (secondary school teacher, environmental education, park rangers, wilderness guides, science writing, natural history museum curator or educator)
- Government sector (scientist, technician, environmental planning, environmental policy; agencies employing geoscientists include federal agencies like the USGS, EPA, DOE, NASA, NOAA, and city and state agencies like WPW&P or DEP)
Geoscience career links
Summary of geoscience careers from the American Geosciences Institute
Statistics on geoscience careers from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics
2011 article in Nature on the encouraging trends in geoscience career opportunities