What do you do with a Geology degree?

What can you do with a Geology degree?  Well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, quite a lot!

Geologists are employed in a wide range of sub-disciplines (e.g., environmental, petroleum, mining, teaching, research) that all have strong job prospects. In addition, geoscience skills are highly valued: according to workplace data from 2017, the median pay for geoscientists was nearly $90,000 per year.

In fact, majoring in geology is likely to get you a higher salary than most Appalachian graduates!

More importantly, the job outlook is bright. The projected growth in geology jobs over the next ten years is 14%, higher than the rate for all jobs together (7%). The job prospects, and salaries, are even greater for those who go on to earn a master’s degree. 

About 94% of our graduates are working in the geoscience fields after graduation. See advice from our graduates, and scroll down to see where Appalachian Geology graduates are employed.

geologistWhat kind of jobs do geologists get?

Why is projected growth in jobs for people with geologic skills so much higher than in other fields? Just look at your everyday life and you will see why. Geology is involved in many things that people take for granted but rely on every single day.

  • Geologists, along with civil and environmental engineers, are the primary professionals working in the environmental industry. In fact, geologists are highly-sought for environmental work because they can become licensed Professional Geologists (P.G.), which is essential in securing contracts and certifying plans for environmental projects. A geology degree will get you that license and the increased marketability associated with it. Appalachian Geology can help you get the credentials to sit for the P.G. exam.
  • Another field of employment for geologists is in Earth materials. What do they find and process? Well, many of the materials in your cell phone or tablet. Without a geologist, they would not exist, nor would your solar panel, your bicycle or your favorite quick-dry outdoor clothes.
  • Many geologists are employed as teachers, either at the Secondary level, teaching high school Earth Science classes, or at universities and community colleges.

Where are Appalachian Geology graduates employed?

Approximately 94% of our graduates are employed in some field of the geosciences.  Our data on graduates since 1998 shows the following employment trends:

  • 35% are employed in the environmental industry, either with environmental consulting firms (28%) or with federal, state and local agencies (7%) dealing with environmental issues. Some examples of environmental firms employing our graduates are Altamont Environmental, Antea Group USA, Apex Environmental, Aspect Consulting, CH2M-Hill, Golder Associates, Nobis Engineering, PSI Inc., URS, and Xeritech, to name a few. Agencies employing our graduates include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Florida Geological Survey, Los Alamos National Laboratories, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
  • 17% are in academia, either at universities, community colleges, or secondary schools. Several of our graduates are now professors at institutions such as Middlebury College, the University of Missouri, and a number of community colleges. A large number of our graduates are Earth Science or general science teachers at secondary schools throughout the Southeast.
  • 10% are employed in the petroleum industry. While the availability of these jobs fluctuate with the base price of a barrel of oil, they are generally high-paying jobs, especially for those with master’s degrees in geophysics. Our graduates in this field are employed by Anadarko, Cabot Oil, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, HessWilco, and Schlumberger amongst others.
  • 9% are employed in the earth materials industry. These jobs range from running mine operations to exploring for minerals that power our economy and keep us happy (think of your iPad or cell phone). Our graduates in this field are working for Active Minerals, the Gemological Institute of America, Global Venture Natural Resource Consulting, Nova Copper, and UNIMIN (to name just a few).
  • 21% of these are in graduate school working on master’s degrees and PhDs. We send students to graduate schools all over the United States and even overseas. Our graduates have attended schools such as Brown University, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Virginia Tech, the University of Maryland, the University of Utah, the University of Oregon, Colorado School of Mines, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Texas, Texas A&M, the University of Tennessee, Boise State University, the University of Alaska (Fairbanks), the University of Chicago, the University of Florida, the University of Idaho, the University of Iowa, the University of Kansas, and the University of Nebraska,  among others. This is only a partial list, but the evidence is that our students are quite marketable to graduate programs. Overall, approximately 40% of our graduates have gone on to earn a graduate degree.
  • only 6% are employed in another field outside of geology. There are a variety of reasons that a geology graduate may opt for another field (particularly if they are bound to a specific geographic region for family reasons), but the point is that the college degree opens up many opportunities, some of which may be outside of the field of the degree. For example, some of our graduates are working as software developers, accountants, as brewers, as organic farmers, but the bottom line is that their education created the opportunity.

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