Geologist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Geologist, or Earth Scientist, is in charge of studying natural formations and the earth’s processes to promote environmental conservation or safe land development. Their duties include going into the field and collecting mineral samples, creating maps of geographical features and testing a rock formation’s natural engineering to prepare for construction.

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Geologist Duties and Responsibilities

Geologists use strongly developed research skills to better understand the planet and its many resources. Geologists have the following responsibilities:

  • Evaluate and explore the planet and its natural resources
  • Identify and improve upon research methods
  • Make land process predictions based on previous earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and tornadoes
  • Interpret and report data they collect from the field
  • Prepare and lead geology training with fellow colleagues

What Does a Geologist Do?

Geologists can work in a variety of industries including natural gas processing, mining, oil extraction, engineering, government and higher education where they do research and fieldwork to provide expert advice on how people can safely interact and use rock formations. They can work in a laboratory and on work sites where they collect and analyze data. Geologists use mapping software to create visual representations of the types of rock and other natural formations in a certain area, their stability and possible changes based on erosion. They compile information in databases and produce reports explaining possible risk factors of developing certain regions.

Geologist Skills and Qualifications

A successful Geologist will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications, including:

  • Communication: Verbal and written skills are important in a Geologist role. Geologists must communicate with other team members, both in a verbal and written method. Clear communication skills are necessary to transfer information.
  • Project management: Geologists are often involved in large research projects. Project management skills can help the Geologist organize each part and keep the project on its intended timeline.
  • Problem-solving: Geologists often conduct research to solve problems. Strongly developed problem-solving skills will help the Geologist interpret data and come to a solution.
  • Research: Many of the responsibilities of a Geologist requires research. Strong qualitative and quantitative research skills will help the Geologist organize, interpret and report research. The ability to read and apply previous research is also an important skill for those in Geologist roles.

Geologist Salary Expectations

The average yearly salary for a Geologist is $64,185 per year. Geologist salaries range depending on location and position. Geologists who work in a local city or state position may benefit from good benefits but have a lower pay rate due to tighter budgets. Geologists working in a government position may experience a higher pay rate but may be expected to lead a team or to travel more. More experience often translates to a higher pay scale. The normal tenure for a Geologist is between one and three years.

Geologist Education and Training Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement for a Geologist role. The bachelor’s degree should be in a related industry, including engineering, environmental science, mineralogy and earth science. Some Geologist positions will require a master’s degree. 

Many programs offer on-the-job training for Geologists. Additionally, an internship or fieldwork may be a part of an aspiring Geologists’ education. Certification in geology is offered in 31 of the U.S. states. While certification is not a requirement in all Geologist positions, Geologists who offer public services must hold a certification.

Geologist Experience Requirements

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, many Geologist employers require some field experience. Some employers may choose to hire a new graduate in geology and train in-house. Other employers may prefer a more experienced Geologist to conduct research and lead the team. The needs of the organization will dictate the level of experience a candidate needs.

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Frequently asked questions about Geologists

 

What is the difference between a Geologist and an Archeologist?

Both Geologists and Archeologists study earth and its formations, but Geologists focus on accessing raw materials found in the earth and developing or conserving land, while Archeologists excavate sites in the earth to learn more about past civilizations and the history of how land forms developed. Geologists often work in a commercial capacity while Archeologists tend to work for academic, governmental or non-profit organizations. Archeologists work to preserve artifacts they find in the earth, locate historic sites and connect their findings to anthropological research. Geologists assess land and determine risks for the people living there.

 

What makes a good Geologist?

Good Geologists are highly educated in different types of geology in addition to engineering and environmental science. Because Geologists have to travel for work and have a range of different work sites they need to visit during a project, they should also be flexible and adaptable. They should enjoy working independently and investigating different topics through their own research. Successful Geologists are cautious and realistic, using their honest assessments to provide good advice to their clients and employers.

 

What are the different types of Geologists?

There are several specialties and branches of geology that Geologists can pursue. They can focus on studying specific types of rock and land formations or they can specialize in a particular category of land developments, resource collection and manufacturing. Some of the types of Geologist are: Engineering Geologist, Marine Geologist, Environmental Geologist, Planetary Geologist, Economic Geologist, Geomorphologist and Petroleum Geologist. Geologists can also use interdisciplinary science studies to become Geophysicists, Geohydrologists or Geochemists. Many Geologists develop expertise in a specific type of natural hazard and devote their careers to identifying and protecting areas where earthquakes, floods and landslides occur.

 

What should you look for on a Geologist's resume?

A Geologist’s resume should emphasize their research and fieldwork. Strong applicants for a Geologist position should have a detailed experience section that demonstrates their ability to work in a lab and make original observations in the field. Geologist resumes for advanced positions should also describe key projects and how the candidate’s survey and recommendation impacted a development or conservation project.

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