10 Earth Science Careers
Volcanologists are earth scientists who study volcanoes on Earth and other planetary bodies.
- 1 [Geology Careers] | Geology Careers With a Bachelor s Degree
- 2 [Oceanography Careers] | List of Oceanography Careers
- 3 [Likes Space] | Top Jobs for Someone Who Likes Space
- 4 [Careers] | Top 10 Science-Related Careers
Earth science is the study of the nature of the earth and other planets. It combines geology, the principal earth science, with oceanography, meteorology and astronomy to understand the forces that have created the universe. Earth scientists are also called geoscientists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2010 median annual pay for geoscientists was $82,500.
Mineralogy is a subdivision of geology dealing with the study of minerals. This subject began as a study of the crystalline compounds that are the earth’s building blocks. Today, it has expanded to include the study of these compounds in soils, waste products and concrete as well as those made by living organisms, from human kidney stones to sea shells. Mineralogists work in mineral exploration, construction site investigation and building design, and as teachers of earth sciences in schools and universities.
Soil scientists study the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils and their management. Engineering geology is a version of soil science adapted to the initial investigation of construction sites and the design of foundations and earth retaining structures such as dams. Soil scientists work in site surveying and remediation, land reclamation, and waste disposal for private sector companies and state and federal agencies; and in research at universities. A geology major and good mathematical skills are essential for these careers.
Paleontologists study past life on Earth through the investigation of fossils. They are employed widely in the oil and gas industry, museums and research institutions. A geology major with a master’s or doctorate in paleontology is the best qualification for these jobs.
Geophysics is the study of the earth using magnetic, electrical, gravitational and seismic techniques. Geophysicists work mostly in the energy, mining and construction sectors. Much of the work involves computer modeling and analysis, so geophysicists need excellent mathematical and IT skills. A geology, physics or civil engineering major with a master’s or doctorate in geophysics are the best career start.
Volcanologists are geologists who specialize in studying volcanoes. They monitor the process of how a volcano forms and erupts, how and where lava falls, and how particle emissions circulate in the atmosphere. They have to keep abreast of continuous instrumental monitoring around live volcanoes, and be on call to give public information through the broadcast, print and electronic media about imminent dangers. Most volcanologists work in state and federal agencies and in university research. This career needs a geology, mathematics or meteorology major with a doctorate in volcanology together with strong communication skills.
Seismology is the study of earthquakes and their effects on landforms, structures and human activity. In earthquake zones like California and the Pacific Northwest, they investigate the dangers to existing and planned new structures from earthquake shaking. A civil engineering, physics or mathematics major together with courses in geology, followed by a master’s or doctorate in seismology, is the best career start.
Hydrologists study the circulation of surface and underground water on the earth. This includes how rainfall permeates, or is stopped from permeating, soil. They are employed widely by water utilities, federal and state flood control departments, and water resource agencies. A natural sciences or engineering major that includes course in soil science and chemistry is the minimum qualification for these careers.
Marine geology and oceanography are subdivisions of earth sciences that are applied in marine environments. An oceanographer studies the variation of temperature and salinity in the ocean to forecast circulation patterns such as El Nino that impact the climate. Marine geologists work with engineering companies in the design of oil platforms or coastal structures such as harbors. A major in physics or geology and good mathematical skills are vital for anyone wanting a career in ocean science. Doctorates are necessary for a university research career.
Petroleum geology is the application of geology to the search for oil and gas. This discipline involves different earth science skills like geology, geophysics, paleontology and ocean science. The best qualification for this career is a geology major and a master’s in petroleum geology from a university in an oil-producing state. Try to include courses on economics and petroleum engineering.
Space exploration applies the principles of earth science to determining the nature of the moon and planets. Universities offer earth and space science majors and master’s degrees. But it’s better to start with an excellent physics major that includes courses in geology, geophysics, meteorology and astronomy. Federal agencies like NASA and NOAA, together with the Department of Defense, are the main employers of space scientists.