A geologist studies the composition, structure, and other physical attributes of the earth, including rocks and minerals. They use physics, mathematics, and geological knowledge in exploration for oil, gas, minerals, or underground water. The duty of a petroleum geologist is to discover the location and amount of useful fuel (oil and natural gas) in sediments (shale) or reservoirs. Geologists in this occupation may be required to interpret geophysical information in project reports, conduct field studies to analyze project data, accurately estimate fuel amounts, implement drilling strategies for extraction of the fuel, and create post-project reports. They use a variety of techniques to discover this information including geochemical analysis, ground-based sonar and satellite mapping. In some cases, they work side-by-side with oil companies in the supervising of the oil extraction process. Geologists may be hired by engineering or environmental consulting firms; oil, gas, and mining companies; federal and state government agencies; and science centers and museums.
To become a geologist, you need to begin by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology or a closely related field such as Environmental Science. Completing coursework geology, mathematics and physics is a great way to build an educational foundation for your prospective career as a geologist.
Depending on where your career ambitions and interests lie, you will likely need a graduate degree in geology to become a senior level geologist. Employers also usually accept a degree in Environmental Engineering provided the candidate has experience in geology.
Depending on the requirements of the employer, a Master’s degree in Geology or Environmental Science is typically sufficient for many applied research positions. To become a geologist who works in research and university teaching positions a PhD in Geology or Environmental Science is needed.
Geologists must also complete continuing education throughout their careers in order to keep their skills current stay up to date with advancements in the field.
There are many different forms that geologist careers can take, as there are many areas of specialty within the field of geology. Below are some examples of specialized geologist occupational titles as well as brief descriptions.
Coal Geologists: Responsible for locating and characterizing coal resources in order to determine their suitability for coal mining.
Computing Geologists: Responsible for developing and utilizing specialized software applications such as database systems, geographic information systems and statistics packages.
Economic Geologists: Responsible for locating, evaluating and characterizing mineral deposits.
Engineering Geologists: Responsible for analyzing geological data in order to advise government agencies, construction companies and energy companies on the suitability of locations for buildings, dams, highways, airfields, tunnels and mining/drilling sites.
Environmental Geologists: Responsible for studying the earth with the specific focus of understanding human interactions with the land, for the purpose of anticipating geological issues and providing information to help minimize impacts on the environment.
Geochemists: Responsible for studying the chemical makeup of minerals, rocks and fluids, as well as their interrelationships in order to better understand the distribution and migration of materials in the earth's crust.
Geochronologists: Responsible for determining the ages of rocks by studying the radioactive decay of specific elements.
Geomorphologists: Responsible for examining landforms and processes that cause the earth's surface to change, such as erosion and glaciation.
Hydrogeologists: Responsible for studying the properties, amount and composition of groundwater and formation waters.
Marine Geologists: Responsible for studying coastal and marine environments and tracing their evolution. They may also investigate ocean basins and sea floors for mineral and petroleum potential.
Mineralogists: Responsible for analyzing, identifying and classifying minerals and precious stones according to their composition and structure.
Mining Geologists: Responsible for locating, analyzing and studying the Earth's mineral and rock resources.
Paleontologists: Responsible for studying fossils for purposes such as establishing relative age, petroleum exploration and the study of environmental evolution.
Petroleum Geologists: Responsible for utilizing information gathered from boreholes, geophysical and geochemical data, geological maps, rock samples and remote sensing imagery to determine the geological characteristics of an underground reservoir.
Planetary Geologists: Responsible for studying the nature and history of planets and satellites in the solar system.
Sedimentologists: Responsible for studying the processes that result in the formation of sedimentary rocks. They may also apply this knowledge to help locate natural resources.
Stratigraphers: Responsible for examining layers of sedimentary rock to help locate coal and petroleum.
Structural Geologists: Responsible for studying the nature and geometry of brittle and plastic rock deformation, including the evolution of earth structures such as mountains.
Surficial Geologists: Responsible for studying sediments and rock layers close to the Earth's surface. This information is applied to building construction, landfill siting, mineral exploration, environmental contamination, groundwater production and global change studies.
Volcanologists: Responsible for studying both active and dormant volcanoes in order to predict eruptions and minimize potential damage.
If you’re interested in a career that involves studying such issues as erosion, watershed management, mineral resource exploration and others, and you want to help apply your findings for the betterment of our communities and planet, then a career as geologist may be a great fit for you!!
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