Careers in Geology

It is a good time to be a geology major!

Part of the reason why is growth in the demand for geoscientists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of geoscience jobs is expected to increase by 16% over the next decade, significantly faster than average. This increase is driven by rising global demands for resources as well as retirements. About half of the current geoscience workforce is expected to retire during the next decade and, with less than 5,000 geoscience degrees awarded per year, the supply of trained geoscientists is likely to fall short of the demand. In other words, there is expected to be more jobs than people.

Another reason why geology is a great program of study; geoscience careers pay well! Mean annual salaries for geoscience occupations are well above the national average for life, physical, and social sciences. The median annual salary for geoscientists in 2012 was over $90,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Energy and mining salaries tend to be the highest (see recent American Association of Petroleum Geologists salary data) and M.S. graduates start at substantially higher salaries than B.S. graduates. 

What do geologists do?

One of the great things about geology is that there is something for everyone! Most geoscientists work in the oil and gas, mining and minerals, and water resources industries. There are a lot of other options as well, however. Geologists contribute to society in many ways. A good summary of the types of careers available to geoscience students after they graduate is found here.

Masters-level graduates will have the widest selection of opportunities, for employers in most fields recognize this as the minimum 'career-level' degree, with which a person can expect to advance to higher responsibilities within a company. Indeed, many major corporations hire geologists only at the M.S. and Ph.D. levels. However, numerous opportunities exist for B.S. graduates. For example, a number of our recent B.S. graduates have been hired by oil and gas companies, oilfield services companies, and regional/national environmental firms.

How do we help our student start their careers?

At present, the Department of Geology offers the B.S./B.A. degree and the M.S. degree in geology. Because graduates with these degrees most often gain employment within the corporate and government sectors, we are well positioned to carry out the theme function of a land grant university, which (loosely stated) is to benefit the State of Kansas by preparing students to become productive members of society.

We look upon the B.S./B.A. degree as a broad exposure to the core elements of geology. At the M.S. level, our students select a general area for further study, and prepare themselves for further study or career employment.

Nearly all of our M.S. students either go on for further study, or receive solid, career-building offers from significant agencies or corporations. We also see most of our B.S./B.A. graduates go on for master's degrees or well-paying jobs. Many of our M.S. students also participate in summer internships that often lead to job offers when they graduate. In addition, many of our advisory council members are in a position to interview our students in informal settings, and many careers have been launched in this manner. We also encourage our students to attend meetings of professional societies (e.g. for presenting research results and professional networking); our alumni and the department support these efforts with funding.

Geologist collecting samples from a pump jack
 
Geology student coring sediment