A typical geologist, or someone interested in geology as a career, will be interested in travel and working outdoors, have a passion for nature, and how things work, and are interested in the environment, and the issues facing it. This is geology at its most basic, if you delve into the details and you’ll find an industry that deals with scientific study not just of the earth, but of its natural resources. The work of a geologist or geoscientist could involve office or lab based work, or research in the field, at locations across the globe. You could be drilling, completing seismic surveys, using satellite and aerial imaging tools, or taking electro-magnetic measurements.
Different Fields Of Geology
With geology being such a broad subject, it’s not surprising there are many sub sectors under its umbrella. If you become a geologist it’s likely you’ll specialise in a specific field of work, such as those outlined below:
You could work in environmental geology, a fast growing field that studies threat to the environment, and looks at developing solutions to environmental problems. This could mean working on anything from natural hazards to sustainable development.
There’s also hydrogeology which looks at water movement through streams and rocks, water availability, and possible pollutants. Water is also a theme in the work of a petroleum geologist, who has the job of identifying oil and gas reserves, and may look at the faulting of rocks and sediment deposition in the oceans.
Other fields of geology include marine geology, which links up geology, marine biology, and oceanography, planetary geology, which features topics such as meteor craters, and geomorphology, which looks at how natural phenomena like glaciers shape the earth. You may even come across the large, and in some cases lucrative fields of economic geology and engineering geology. In the economic field, geologists look at valuable mineral and rock deposits, and how to mine them, while in the engineering sector, you could be looking at manmade structures and the hazards they face.
Hours and Salaries
Both these will vary depending on your schedule, experience, and the sector you work in. Anything office based might run on a normal work pattern, while field based work could mean longer, more irregular hours. If you were carrying out research in remote locations, or for example on an oil rig, then you’d likely spend several weeks in the field, followed by the equivalent holiday.
Salaries can start at £20,000, rising up to £50,000 for someone with experience.
A degree in a relevant physical science is a must, if you want to become a geologist. This could mean taking a course in geology, geophysics, or geochemistry. To get on a degree course you’d usually need five A-C grade GCSE’s, and 3 science/maths based A-Level subjects. The geological society can advise on relevant courses if you want to become a chartered geologist. Once on the job, you can expect to receive further training from your employer, and may also have the chance to take short courses, or a post graduate qualification.
Many career opportunities in geology will explore the discovery, exploitation, and demand for resources. Unsurprisingly this means the oil and gas industry are currently two of the major employers of geologists. In the UK, two of the best places to look for work, are the British Geological Survey and the Environment Agency.
If you are looking for further reading, then journals such as Geology Today, and Nature, are both useful sources of information on the industry, careers, and all the latest geological news.