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Skidmore College
Geosciences Department

Why Geoscience?

The job outlook for geoscience students remains excellent. Too many jobs and not enough people to fill them!"

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Geoscience is the study of planet Earth and other planets, their materials, the processes that act upon them, and the history of these planets and life forms since their origin. As such, geoscientists serve and provide for the material needs of humanity where natural resources are concerned at all scales ranging from local to global. Although geoscientists generally function below society's radar, we are involved in every aspect of industry, agriculture, water and energy supply, land-use planning, and environmental quality. In 1993, the National Science Council report concluded that "Understanding the Earth has become essential to human existence." Thus, the study of geosciences is vital to the education of students who, according to Skidmore's objective, "are prepared to function effectively in the complex and increasingly diverse world of the 21st Century, and who understand and embrace the responsibilities of living as informed, responsible citizens."

Job Sectors in the Geosciences

  • Government
  • Academia
  • Industry
  • Nonprofit organizations

AGU Pathfinder Career Advice

Careers in the Geosciences

Atmospheric scientist—Global climate dynamics and climate change

Economic geologist—Explore for and develop metallic and nonmetallic resources; develop environmentally safe ways to dispose of waste materials from mining activities

Engineering geologist—Apply geological data, techniques, and principles to the study of rock and soil surficial materials and ground water; investigate geologic factors that affect structures such as bridges, buildings, airports, and dams

Geochemist—Use physical and inorganic chemistry to investigate the nature and distribution of major and trace elements in ground water and Earth materials; Use organic chemistry to study the composition of fossil fuel deposits

Geochronologist—Use the rates of decay of certain radioactive elements in rocks to determine their age and the time sequence of events in the history of Earth

Geomorphologist—Study Earth's landforms and landscapes in relation to the geologic and climatic processes and human activities, which they form

Geophysicist—Apply the principles of physics to studies of the Earth's interior and investigate Earth's magnetic, electric, and gravitational fields

Glacial geologist—Study the physical properties and movement of glaciers and ice sheets

Hydrogeologist—Study the occurrence, movement, abundance, distribution, and quality of subsurface waters and related geologic aspects of surface waters

Hydrologist—Concerned with water from the movement of precipitation until it evaporates into the atmosphere or is discharged into the ocean; study river systems and the impact of flooding

Marine geologist—Investigate the ocean-floor and ocean-continent boundaries; study ocean basins, continental shelves, and the coastal environments

Meteorologist—Study the atmosphere and atmospheric phenomena, including weather

Mineralogist—Study mineral formation, composition, and properties

Investigate the physical, chemical, biological, and geologic dynamics of oceans

Paleoecologist—Study the function and distribution of ancient organisms and their relationships to their environment

—Study fossils to understand past life forms and their changes through time and to reconstruct past environments

Petroleum geologist—Explore for and produce oil and natural gas resources

Petrologist—Determine the origin and natural history of rocks by analyzing mineral composition and grain relationships

Planetary geologist—Study planets and their moons in order to understand the evolution of the solar system

Sedimentologist—Study the nature, origin, distribution, and alteration of sediments and use that information to locate natural resources

Seismologist—Study earthquakes and analyze the behavior of earthquake waves to interpret the structure of Earth

Soil scientist
—Study soils and their properties to determine how to sustain agricultural productivity and to detect and remediate contaminated soils

Stratigrapher—Investigate the time and space relationships of rocks on a local, regional, and global scale throughout geologic time, especially the fossil and mineral content of layered rocks

Structural geologist—Analyze Earth's forces by studying deformation, fracturing, and folding of the Earth's crust

Volcanologist—Investigate volcanoes and volcanic phenomena to understand these natural hazards and predict eruptions

Science Writer
—Writers focusing on science-related topics. Science writers could be anything from journalists to information officers at private institutions.

Science illustrator—Works illustrating texts in science-related topics. Science illustrators may work with a wide range of employers, from publishing companies to universities or research facilities.

Environmental Geologist
—Study soils, bedrock, groundwater, and the surrounding area to determine how to best clean up pollutants.

Paleoclimatologist—Studies climatic conditions, and their causes and effects, in the geologic past, using evidence found in glacial deposits, fossils, and sediments.

Public Health Scientist—Studies the effects of geoscience on matters related to public health, for example, the impacts of water chemistry on heart disease risk.