A geologist studies rocks, landforms, the Earth’s history, and plate tectonics. Some geologists teach in schools or universities, work for government agencies, or help companies target sources of rich mineral reserves. There are many areas in the field of geology — from geophysics to oceanography and everything in between — and the field is growing rapidly.
EditEstablishing a Foundation
Focus on doing well in math and science classes in high school. Geology, and indeed all areas of scientific study, require a deep understanding of basic mathematics and fundamental scientific principles. Chemistry and physics are especially necessary on the science end, and it’s important to do well in calculus on the math end. 
Take AP courses, if your school offers them, to get college credit and skip some of the introductory classes in the field.
Take courses in environmental science or earth science, if your school offers them. Many schools offer classes in environmental science or earth science in addition to the regular trio of biology, chemistry, and physics. Fit these into your schedule as best as you can to develop some basic knowledge in these fields.
Environmental science is helpful as it teaches how humans affect the environment, how climate affects the earth, and the natural processes of the planet.
Earth science is helpful as it teaches about the geological processes of the planet, including everything from volcanoes to tectonic plates to earth’s geological cycle.
Gain foundational knowledge in computer science and GIS. More so than just a few decades ago, geologists are coming to rely on computer skills and GIS (global information systems) to navigate and understand the earth. Develop a strong sense of scientific analysis, use of GIS programs, and basic coding while in school to make your resume stand out to universities and potential employers.
If your school doesn’t offer classes in computer science and GIS, consider taking a summer course at your local community college between high school and university.
Join an after-school club such as a geology club or climate science club. Young people are becoming much more conscious of their effect on the planet, and you can learn more about the natural world and humanity’s effect on it through clubs and high school organizations. It is a fantastic way to start understanding what scientific research and working together to reach a goal is all about.
If your school doesn’t have an environmental science club or a club relating to geology, think about joining a local volunteer group, or inquire about volunteering at a local museum. They are always looking for new, curious people to bring under their wing, and you will get a head start on creating connections with geologists.
EditAttaining Higher Education
Find a school that has a program specifically for the study of geology. Research a handful of schools both in your state and in other states and look specifically for their programs in earth science and geology, and choose one that seems to put a lot of focus and dedication into that course of study.
It is usually recommended to go to a school in your state, as tuition costs will be much cheaper, but you should strongly consider schools in other states if they seem to have a better focus on geology.
Work towards a Bachelor of Science degree in a geology-related major. Almost every university offers mathematics and physical science, but be sure to see if there is a geology-specific major you can take on. Declare your major, and choose a minor that relates to what you want to do in the field of geology.
For example, if you want to be in geology academia, take a minor in education. If you are interested in working for a large GIS company, take a minor in computer science. If you are interested in becoming a strict scientific researcher, take a minor in physical science or chemistry.
Take an internship in a lab or take a field research position. Talk to the science department at your school to see if there are any openings, and keep in close contact with your professors so they turn to you if they need some extra help in the lab. Your school may have an online job board or a career advisory center, so be sure to check for geology and scientific entry-level positions.
While doing well in your classes and getting good grades are part of what gets you a job, the best way to learn is to do. You can learn plenty from books, but you must apply your knowledge in a internship or lab position to get a feel for the career.
Consider going to graduate school if you are interested in academia. Most entry-level geology jobs only require a bachelor’s degree, but if you want to teach others at the university level or want to make yourself stand out from others, attain a master’s degree at in a respected program to boost your credentials as a geologist.
A master’s degree will open up doors beyond simple lab work, but a PhD will show others that you are an expert in your field. You will be much more likely to be considered for university-level education positions if you have a doctorate in geology.
EditBeginning Your Geology Career
Join a geology organization in your area to network and meet professionals. AGI, the American Geosciences Institute, has a variety of local geologist societies all run under the national organization. AIPG, the American Institute of Professional Geologists, focuses on public service. Both organizations have requirements for entry, including some form of experience in the field as well as a bachelor’s degree in a geology-related major.
A professional organization can boost your resume and will give you the opportunity to network with other geologists, which can lead to better job prospects and career opportunities.
Make your resume and cover letter boast your education, experience, and skills. With many careers, your resume and cover letter can be soft and have a particular focus on you as a person rather than your technical ability. In geology and science careers, your resume and cover letter should exhibit your extensive education, including specific classes you took, your experience in internships and other scientific pursuits, and your strongest skills in geoscience research.
Your cover letter can talk a little bit about you as a person, but don’t focus on it too much more than a single paragraph. Your cover letter should detail significant experiences you have had, and describe your interest in geology and in the specific position you are looking for.
Be ready to talk about your ability to analyse, your ability to work in a team, and your experience with advanced scientific principles as they relate to geology in your interview.
Look for jobs in geology education at universities, high schools, and museums. Universities will offer courses in earth science, geology, or related fields. A museum could be looking for a geologist to catalogue items and do field research. A high school may need a geologist to teach environmental science, biology, chemistry, or physics.
Whichever you choose, having a master’s degree or PhD in geology will boost your credentials significantly, especially for museum and university positions.
Search for positions with large mining, energy, or GIS companies. A mining company may need a geologist to identify and supervise mining sites. An energy company may need somebody with significant scientific and computer skills to find new sources of energy. A GIS company needs geologists to accurately map out resources and geography in an area.
You may not need a master’s degree to work with a company, but it can help to skip past entry-level positions. If you have a bachelor’s degree, working at a large company could give you the opportunity to get your feet wet and begin getting some basic experience in the field.
Use your college connections to start a scientific research career. If working for a company, teaching others, or working for a museum doesn’t sound good to you, you can always do strict scientific research in one of the many privately-run or university-run labs in the world. It may not pay as much as some other positions, but your work will be entirely focused on research and learning new things about the world.
Whether you have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a PhD, use your professors and internship connections to find a position suited to your education level.
The best way to find strict research positions is by maintaining contact with your old professors and your university to learn about research openings before they become public.
Become licensed to practice geology, if your state requires it. More than half of the U.S. states require scientists to become licensed to practice geology. You will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, gain more than 3 years of experience in a job, and you will need to pass an entrance exam. Check the National Association of State Boards of Geology to see if you need to become licensed to be a geologist in your state.
If you have a master’s degree or a PhD, it is significantly easier to become licensed and you may not need to have experience in the field, as your intensive studies serve as an alternative form of experience.
Make sure you are good at writing and have taken a few foreign language courses. You may need to communicate effectively with other geologists from all over the world.
A formal thesis proposal is required in almost all PhD and master’s degrees, so think carefully about what piques your interest in geology and focus on that. Think back on what interested you the most during your studies and focus on that in your thesis proposal, as you will be more inspired and more confident in your work.
EditSources and Citations
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