How to Become a <br>Geologist

How to Become a

Eric Ciechanowski
By Eric Ciechanowski
Last Updated: January 20, 2020
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Choosing a career can be overwhelming. If you’ve been considering a career as a Geologist, then this is the article for you. We’ll be covering what a Geologist does, how to become a Geologist and the job outlook for Geologists. We also provide insights from a Geologist in order to give you the best picture possible for making your career decision.

What Does a Geologist Do?

Geologists study how and why landslides, earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions occur, and use this information to ensure the safety of building construction projects. They also study natural resources in order to locate and extract said resources. Geologists can be employed in a variety of settings. They can be employed in a  university setting conducting research, or they can be employed directly by energy companies. They can also work with construction companies, environmental organizations  and private research firms.

Being a Geologist requires a mastery of both basic and advanced principles of Geology. It also requires strong observational and analytical skills. Some common duties and responsibilities of a Geologist include:

  • Observational tasks, such as conducting experiments on soil and rock samples

  • Analytical tasks, such as making meaning of experiment results

  • Written tasks, such as taking notes during experiments and synthesizing significant findings into research papers

Geologist Skills

Those who succeed as a Geologist are passionately curious about the wonders of geology. This passionate curiosity is what pushes Geologists to make new discoveries and propose innovative solutions in their chosen field. Geologists must also be good communicators, as a good chunk of their job involves discussing theories and findings with colleagues and stakeholders.

Other skills required to be a Successful Geologist include:

  • Written communication skills

  • Presentation skills

  • Attention to detail

  • Complex problem solving

  • Perceptive decision making

How Do You Become a Geologist?

Education and Training

Our research into Geologist job descriptions shows that you’ll need at least a Bachelor’s degree in Geology  to get an entry-level job in a private industry. Those who wish to work as a consultant for energy companies typically need to have a Master’s degree in Geology or Environmental Science. Those going for a professorship at a research university must earn a PHD in Geology.

The coursework of a Bachelor’s in Geology covers foundational courses in Mathematics and other Sciences related to Earth Science. Specialized courses include those in petrology, thermal physics, mineralogy, hydrology and geography. These classes often include laboratory components, which familiarizes students with lab equipment while honing their observational skills. A Bachelors of Science in Geology offered from an accredited university is designed to prepare students for the professional licensure examination in Geology.

There are 29 states, as well as the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, that require Geologists to have a professional license. The National Association of State Boards of Geology administers the licensure examination in all states. You can check out their website to see if your state requires a professional license.

Finding a Job

According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Geologists is set to increase 10 percent through 2024. This faster-than-average growth can be attributed to the role the Geologist plays in discovering and harvesting natural resources. It is safe to assume most of the 3,800 jobs set to be created through 2024 will be in the energy sector.

Getting your first job as a Geologist begins with your resume. Make sure to backup key skills with specific accomplishments when possible. Check out our Geologist resume samples for inspiration.

Next comes searching online for job opportunities. Don't just apply to every job you see. Identify the job online and do some research into the company and its decision makers before you send your resume and cover letter.

Speaking of cover letters, you want to make sure you have a cover letter that is going to make the reader get to your resume. Check out our cover letter samples to craft the perfect cover letter.

Insights from a Geologist

In order to give you the best picture possible of what it takes to be a Geologist, we chatted with Adam Shafi of Shiply. Before managing operations for Shiply, Adam earned his Master’s in Petroleum Geoscience at Imperial College of London. Here’s what he had to say.

What is the common career path for Geologist?

The main career areas are oil and gas, mining, geotechnical, environmental and academic. The first few years of a Geologist’s career typically involve lots of hands-on learning and fieldwork, before moving towards a leadership role – making decisions based on geological data. In sectors such as Oil  and Gas and mining, a Geologist may focus on one part of the world at a time.

What should someone consider before becoming a Geologist?

It is quite a technical subject to study at university. It involves mathematics and chemistry, as well as highly in-depth learning about rocks. Most Geologists are very passionate about the subject and this is needed. Fieldwork is always a big part of any geology course and most likely will be an essential part of any career. A potential Geologist should consider whether they would be content with several days out on rainy coastal exposures, as well as travel to various remote locations across the world.

What type of person excels in this job?

Passionate, hardworking individuals. People who live and breathe geology will excel in a technical role as a Geologist.

What are some of the most important skills for a Geologist to have?

Teamwork and communication are essential, especially if a more corporate career path is chosen. A Geologist will rely on a team to complete different aspects of a project and will have to communicate their results to managers who may not be Geologists but will be making million dollar decisions based on their work. A good grasp of mathematics is very helpful for some aspects of geology, especially if a geotechnical or engineering career path is chosen.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Geologist?

A job that involves a lot of technical knowledge, researching and looking at data every day to interpret how rocks millions of years old formed and where a mineral or commodity might be within them.

How Much Does a Geologist get Paid?

The National Bureau of Labor Statistics quotes the median salary of a Geologist at $89,700. The bottom 10 percent of the spectrum make below $47,250, while those at the top 10 percent of the spectrum make above $187,200.

Top 10 States for Geologist Salary

Geologists in the following states make the highest median salary in the U.S.



    District of Columbia






    South Carolina












    Geologist Resources

    We put together the following list of additional resources to help you continue your exploration of the Geologist career path.

    On the Web
    This website is a news aggregator designed to gather Geology articles from around the web. It is updated with multiple articles daily, with most days reaching double digits.
    This is a blog ran by a PHD candidate in Australia, and it documents her exploration of Geology in Australia and Iceland.
    This website is an all-inclusive resource that has been around since the mid-90’s. It is a great place for an aspiring Geologist to get lost in research.
    This website has anything and everything you could think of regarding Geology. It is one of the top informational resources on the web.

    Professional Organizations

    Geological Society of America
    The Geological Society of America is a professional organization that puts an emphasis on collaboration. There is a list on their website of 72 associated professional organizations that cover all specializations within the field of Geology.

    American Geosciences Institute
    This organization focuses on fostering leadership within the field of Geology. It is also a great organization for networking.

    American Institute of Professional Geologists
    This organization has over 15,000 members and also has a student membership.