Geologist jobs(Also known as Earth Scientist, Geoscientist)
Geologists are scientists who study the structure and dynamics of the Earth and its natural resources. Geologists draw from different scientific disciplines such as physics, chemistry and biology to study the materials which make the Earth and the forces which shape it. They also review the effects of human intervention on the Earth’s resources. One of the geologist’s tasks is to discover reserves of natural resources (metals, oil, gas etc) that can be exploited for commercial purposes. They do so by conducting studies in the field, interpreting the data collected and producing maps of the resources. Geologists can also be involved in the conservation of the environment and the study of climate change: they analyse natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, tsunamis and storms. They also ensure the safety and suitability of sites chosen for mining and construction (tunnels, roads, bridges, dams, etc). Geologists’ tasks are very varied as they can choose to specialise in different fields and become one of the following:
- Engineering geologist
- Wellsite geologist
- Geological mapper
- Teacher or Lecturer
SalarySalary can vary greatly according to the sector of employment. The public sector usually offers lower salaries. Within the private sector, oil and gas companies often offer the greatest financial rewards. Geologists can start their career with a salary of around £25,000 per year. At senior level, they can get up to £50,000 but this can also vary hugely depending on the company. Some experienced geologists working in profitable industries at management level can earn £130,000 per year as well as a range of benefits and bonuses.
ResponsibilitiesGeologists have different responsibilities according to their speciality. Here are some examples of the main tasks:
- Plan field investigations
- Locate and study natural resources
- Visit construction and mining sites
- Advise on site selection and proposed use by consulting geological maps, analysing the ground and testing planned construction materials
- Collect samples of natural resources through drilling and other methods
- Interpret natural resources formations
- Determine the mineralogical and chemical composition of rock samples in a laboratory
- Conduct environmental impact analysis of construction and mining sites and ensure compliance with environmental legislation
- Undertake project management, for example oversee drilling operations, supervise site investigations and budgets
- Manage staff, including consultants and contractors
- Produce reports on findings
- Produce geological maps
- Work with a range of specialist equipment
- Attend professional conferences
- Teach and give lectures
QualificationsYou need to hold at least an undergraduate university degree (BSc) in geology, geoscience or Earth science to become a professional geologist. It is advisable to gain a postgraduate qualification such as an MSc or PhD as well. About 40 UK universities offer courses in geoscience. The Geological Society accredits some of these courses and lists them on its website. You can become a Chartered Geologist (CGeol) through The Geological Society. You will then need to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD). If you choose a teaching career, you will need to hold a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). At university level, you will need an advanced degree in a specialised area within your geological discipline.
- Excellent analytical skills
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to understand basic engineering principles
- Passion about the geological and natural environment
- Mapping techniques
- Flexibility and versatility
- Enthusiasm, patience and perseverance
- Ability to work with teams of people from a wide range of backgrounds
- Good physical fitness
Working ConditionsGeologists’ working conditions can vary a great deal so it is important to be flexible. You will usually work regular office hours but are likely to spend more time working when sent on site. Most geologists spend a lot of time in the field, especially at the beginning of their careers. You must be physically fit and happy to work in inhospitable areas and in bad weather conditions. During your studies, you are likely to get experience in “field camps”, living and working under field conditions with faculty members. This is a great career if you are interested in varied work and love the natural world and travel. If you work in an international company, especially in the areas of petroleum, mining and engineering, you will have many opportunities to travel all around the world. However, fieldwork abroad can be tough and sometimes dangerous.
ExperienceSome major companies such as BP and Shell offer internships and graduate training schemes. You will get work experience during your studies but it is also important to show your interest for the subject by belonging to a local geological society for example.
EmployersGeologists often work for the mining industry, oil, gas and petroleum companies, environmental consultancies and civil engineering firms. They can be hired on a contract basis or hold permanent positions within private companies. Local and national government agencies such as the Geoconservation Commission and the Environment Agency also employ geoscientists.
Career ProgressionYou will easily become a team leader and can move to higher management positions. You can also choose to gain further specialist technical skills. Some experienced professionals move on to become self-employed consultants.
James Bowkett, 27, is a geologist working for the Subsurface Interpretation Services of New Digital Business. What is your job title? Exploration geologist / consultant geologist / data manager / business data analyst. How long have you been in this particular job? For 6 months. What did you do before this job? I studied and spent 6 months as a teaching assistant at Heriot-Watt University. Before going back into education, I was an exploration geologist at Tethys Petroleum. How did you end up doing this job? I was headhunted after my MSc to join this new company looking to expand their geology and geophysics group. What area(s) of geology do you specialise in?
- Structural geology and sedimentology (carbonate and clastic)
- Regional geological analysis
- Petroleum systems analysis
- Seismic interpretation
- Prospect evaluation