Careers in Geology

Petroleum Geology and Geophysics

  • Expect to “do” geology almost every day with highest levels of technology
  • Exploration: 3-D seismic mapping, reservoir and source rock modeling, depositional model
  • Production: Map structure and stratigraphy, isopach maps, calculate reserves, sell to management
  • Geophysical Application: Process and interpret seismic data
  • An adventure with a component of thrills
  • Help solve the world’s energy problems
  • Opportunities with the majors and independents
  • Optimal degree is a Masters in geology or geophysics, but some new hires have a B.S. or Ph.D.
  • Intense level of hiring to meet energy demands (40,000 replacement hires in next 10 years); one of the top technical careers
  • Work in Houston, other U.S. cities or internationally
  • With Master’s degree, expect $80k a year starting, with possible bonus (but salaries are rapidly rising !)

Environmental/Geotechnical and Governmental

  • Groundwater supply
  • Environmental compliance
  • Site characterization
  • UST removal, soil and groundwater sampling
  • Site remediation
  • Fate and transport groundwater modeling
  • Many environmental geologists characterize and solve environmental problems (mold and asbestos inspections, etc.)


  • Industrial minerals, road construction materials
  • Metals such as gold, silver, and copper
  • Field mapping and geochemical sampling
  • Work in a single mine or explore for new resources and prove reserves around the world


  • University: requires Ph.D.; moderate to low level of hiring; start at $50K to $60K yearly
  • Four-year institutions: Emphasize the teaching component
  • Community colleges: Emphasis is on teaching; requires M.S. or Ph.D.
  • Public School systems: Requires certification in School of Ed. (good level of hiring) start at $30k to $40k yearly