What Does the Future Demand Look Like for Applied Geoscientists?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a bright future for a career in the geosciences, with employment prospects expected to grow by 5% over the next 10 years, which is faster than the average job growth for other professions.

What is Causing the Growth in Geoscience Careers?

Part of the increasing demand stems from the retirement of many baby-boomers who had been leading the industry for the past 20-30 years, creating a void to be filled by the geologists rising through the ranks behind them.

Additionally, as we have seen an increase in the incidences of extreme weather events such as hurricanes and high rainfall, there is a greater need for geoscience professionals who can assist communities in planning mitigation efforts for future flooding and storm surges. There are also many current and future development projects being undertaken in earthquake- and landslide-prone areas, which requires careful consideration and planning by expert applied geoscientists.

Add to all this the growing public concern for and increasing governmental regulation of issues concerning the environment. Concerns such as groundwater pollution, resource conservation, soil management, climate change and more are leading to the demand for Earth scientists who can help tackle these problems in new and innovative ways.

For all these reasons, we expect the demand for qualified geoscientists to remain high for many years to come.


How Much Do Geoscientists Earn?

Most geoscientists earn a very good salary, with the median salary being approximately $92,000 per year.

Those who are employed in the mineral resources sector, such as working within the oil and gas industry, generally command the highest salaries. However, those jobs are also more subject to volatility and layoffs when demand for these commodities drops.

There is a growing need for geologists in governmental, environmental and educational positions, which tend to pay less than the minerals resources industry, but these positions are more stable.


What Do Geoscientists Do?

The popular image of a geologist or geoscientist is of one who walks around mountains and creek beds with a rock hammer and a magnifying glass, looking at stones and fossils. In actuality, the types of geoscience careers available are far more varied and multidisciplinary than most people realize.

Most geoscientists work for government or private industry, where there is a great need for the ability to assess and remediate geologic, structural and environmental hazards for construction and public works projects. But within and outside of those jobs, there is quite a large range of specialties and unique opportunities in which a geoscientist may be employed.

Here are just a few of the wide array of potential geoscience specialties:

Hydrologists - Study the movement and quality of water.

Hydrogeologists - Study groundwater and its movement through the soil surface, beneath the ground via aquifers and its interaction with soil and rock.

Mineral Geologists - Search for and develop mineral deposits.

Geomorphologist - Investigate the nature, origin and development of landforms and their relationship to underlying structures and the effects of Earth’s processes.

Seismologists - Investigate the onset and the propagation of seismic waves in the Earth’s tectonic plates (i.e. earthquakes).

Planetary Geologists - Study the geologic makeup of planets of our solar system as well as the moon.

Paleoceanographers - Examine the geologic history of the oceans with regards to circulation, chemistry, biology, geology and patterns of sedimentation and biological productivity.

Volcanologists - Investigate volcanoes, eruptions and other volcanic phenomena.

Edaphologists – Study and apply findings on the influence of soils on living things, particularly plants.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the types of careers that you as a geoscientist could pursue. Want to learn about the real job duties of a few of our members? Visit our article on Disciplines Practiced in Applied Geosciences.


What Kind of Education Do I Need to Be a Geoscientist?

Most applied geoscientists need have at least a bachelor’s degree in a geoscience or related field for an entry-level position. Many students choose to get a master’s degree as well, which opens up further opportunities and increases the salary they can command. We suggest you take a look at our article on recommended coursework for those pursuing a career in the geosciences.

Beyond your degree, many states will also require you to have professional licensing to practice as a geoscientist in their state. Be sure to read our guide to professional licensing requirements for applied geoscientists.

If you are interested in a career in the geosciences, we encourage you to reach out to us to learn more!

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