Studies & Degrees in Geosciences

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Earth sciences, earth science, or geosciences are the field of sciences that exclusively explore the different systems on earth, together with their specific functions. This suggests the studying of the atmosphere, the ocean, the plant and animal life. Although a geoscientist could take a multidisciplinary approach, most people wishing to study this discipline concentrate into one field, like geology for example. Geology is crucial for understanding the Earth, as it explains phenomena that affect the earth structure. Other subdivisions of geosciences are geochemistry and geophysics.

Some examples of what geoscientists do in real life are: collecting samples of minerals and sediments for research and analysis; or, measuring the amount of magnetism or seismic activity in an area, using specific equipment. This means geoscientists could predict where an earthquake is likely to happen and how often this may occur. Geochemistry experts, on the other hand, study the structure of rocks to possibly discover any pollutants, and stratigraphers try to determine the age and structure of the earth. Engineering geologists examine buildings to evaluate their stability, petroleum geologists try to define the location of crude oil, while oceanographers explore ocean tides and seafloor spreading.

Personal Qualities

This is a discipline which requires early preparation, so a zest and understanding of subjects such as biology, chemistry and physics is a good starting point. Other qualities, relevant for the subject area are:

  • Accuracy – specifically important for the preparation of records and reports
  • Like outdoors activities and prepared to work in all kinds of environment
  • Excellent physical condition
  • Work well both individually and as a part of a team
  • Ability to carry out research and the corresponding analysis

Study Options

As mentioned earlier, geosciences are a vast study field and preparation could start as early as high school. It would be a good idea for you to look at some books and web sites, introducing yourself to the subject, in order to start forming an idea of which area you wish to specialize in.

In general, most geoscientists own at least a Bachelor of Science degree, or the equivalent, and it is crucial to choose an accredited institution in order to ensure a successful career in the future. There is also an option for you to take an introductory course in the university you have chosen, so that you can decide what specific area interests you most.

It is also important to be aware that there are schools that do not have a geosciences course, but rather offer courses in the sub-disciplines, like geology. For this reason, it would be smart of you to research the university’s background in geosciences, its faculty members and instructors.

As a final point, many geoscientists go on to postgraduate study, as this will provide them with the in-depth knowledge and expertise they wish to gain in order to thrive in this profession. Not to forget that employability options are also highly enhanced in such a case.

Career options

There are a number of career options for geoscientists, but let’s stress again that a lot of employers prefer at least a master’s degree for this profession. Another common practice is that recently graduated geoscientists assume fellowship, working together with experienced professionals, and after a period of a couple of years, they could be allowed to conduct a research of their own. It may also be required of you to pass a licensing examination if you will be involved in engineering or architectural geology. Here are examples of other career paths you might wish to pursue: environmental geologist (studying the effects of pollution, mining, etc.); hydrogeologist/hydrologist – concerned with water resources; mine site geologist; petroleum geologist; structural geologist.

Overall, most geologists work in engineering and architectural firms, or for oil and gas exploration and extraction corporations. The government also employs geologists to conduct an analysis of the environment and natural resources of a country. As a geologist, work hours can be long and you might also be required to spend long periods of time away from home.