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Careers: Geology

Why Choose Geology?

  1. Strong demand for new Geologists
    • The current workforce is aging and starting to retire, causing a growing demand in this field. Because of this salaries are generally high, and future job security appears high.
  2. Active, fulfilling lifestyle
    • Geology gives the opportunity to do much more than sit behind a desk. Many positions include outdoor fieldwork and sampling.
  3. Get to know the world
    • Geology will help you develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the world around you.
  4. Provide for society
    • Our world depends on many natural resources, the locating and extraction of which geologists often play a key role. Progress in these areas is an important duty of the geologist. Geologists also work to protect people from natural disasters and hazards, including the global climate crisis.

What Geologists Do

    Environmental Geologists


    Petroleum geologists



    National Park Interpretive Rangers

    College Professors


    Career fields and course preparation

    The following is a list of courses you should consider taking if you plan on going into certain fields in geology.

    Petroleum industry

    The following basic geology courses are extremely desirable: introductory geology, historical geology, sedimentary petrology and depositional environments, stratigraphy, structural geology, introductory geophysics, seismic stratigraphy, petroleum geology, geochemistry and field geology. Field geology can be taken during the summer through Calvin or from many other institutions.

    Geophysics is currently a particularly good field to be in because at present there are 10 times as many geology students as geophysics students, yet the petroleum industry hires equal numbers of geophysicists and geologists.

    Mining industry

    The mining industry desires students with a strong physical science background with an emphasis on physical chemistry. Essential courses are petrology, petrography, structural geology, geochemistry, geophysics, field geology, and ore deposits. Courses in related fields such as engineering or economics are desirable.

    Geoscience consulting firms

    Consulting companies need geologists who have broad interests and diverse skills and who can readily retrain themselves to enter new fields as market demand changes. Specific courses are not as important as having a strong technical base in earth science, civil engineering, mathematics, or chemistry. It is recommended that you attend events that expose you to a diversity of geology (e.g. field trips, seminars, and workshops). Of particular importance is a variety of summer employment experiences. Knowledge of field techniques (e.g. drilling, pumping tests, logging, water-quality monitoring, or geophysical applications) is especially important. Proficiency in stratigraphy and rock and soil description is also desirable, as is expertise in computer applications and statistics.

    Of equal importance to your technical skills are your writing skills because consulting firms sell reports of their work. A clear and concise description of your results must be the end-product. Indeed, geoscience employers consistently emphasize the importance of both written and oral communication.

    Federal government

    The federal government (e.g. U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, etc.)currently employs about 2600 geologists, 600 geophysicists, 2200 hydrologists, 500 mining engineers, and 500 petroleum engineers. The basic course requirements for consideration of a geologist for employment by the US government are six courses in geology (mineralogy, paleontology, stratigraphy, structural geology, petrology, and geomorphology) plus five courses in cartography and in the cognate sciences such as math, physics, chemistry, or biology.

    State and local government

    The six most important courses are: structural geology, field geology, petrology and petrography, stratigraphy, environmental geology, and cartography with GIS. Non-geological courses considered important include: chemistry or physics, English composition, economics or computer science, and calculus.

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