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STEAM Career Spotlight: Geologist

By Clare Schinzel

Summer is about enjoying the outdoors; hiking, swimming, or just taking in nature are common ways people enjoy the pleasant weather. But while it is easy to get distracted by manmade bike trails, paying homage to the planet itself is just as important. Taking up that mission, geologists are scientists who study the processes, physical properties, and history of this beautiful planet in order to transform passive enjoyment into true cognizance and respect.


Geology is an expansive field with many different specializations. From paleontology to oceanography, a geologist’s career can forge many different paths. If students are interested in studying geology, the first thing they should do is not dismiss their time in high school. Take as many science courses as possible. For example, chemistry is essential to understand elements and how the Earth processes them in different ways. Additionally, biology is needed to analyze the organisms that roam our planet and their effects on it. Finally, studying statistics is vital to developing analytical skills and applying them to the activity in our world.


Once finished with high school, students should pursue a bachelor’s degree. Students can choose between already delving into a specific field if their school provides the required courses, or sticking with a broader degree in general geology. Students should expect classes in all of the sciences––chemistry, biology, and physics, as well as intro geology courses studying rocks, minerals, organisms, and groundwater processes. Students should also expect basic English composition courses as well as statistics.


While a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for some jobs, pursuing a master’s or doctorate is advised to achieve higher salaries and positions. A graduate position would also allow students to find their niche in the broad field of geology. Seeking a mentor in specific fields can also be the easiest way to a doctorate degree or advanced career prospects.


Once students have developed a solid foundation, they should look into the requirements to become licensed geologists. The National Association of State Boards of Geology writes a licensing exam that most states in America use. Passing the exam can be a major career milestone because becoming a licensed geologist means hopefuls can move from being monitored during projects to pursuing their own work. Additionally, some geologists also pursue a state license from the American Institute of Professional Geologists, which can translate to more career and research opportunities as well as an increased salary.


The increased need for geologists is a double-edged sword. While it provides opportunities for almost everyone who wants to pursue a career in the subject, the desperation for more scientists is caused by global warming and the escalation of fatal natural disasters. Geologists are needed to stand up to the threats that Earth is facing and play a major part in figuring out how to preserve both the planet itself and the organisms living on it. Unfortunately, despite the demand, many colleges neglect developing geology departments, and––for the most part––the major remains esoteric and uncommon in college indexes. Hopefully, the next generation can create a demand for this life-changing and crucial science field, and bring geology the attention and praise it deserves.


Works Cited

“How Do I Become a Geologist? Eight Things Every Student Should Know before

Applying.” Www.cmich.edu, www.cmich.edu/blog/all-things-higher-ed/how-to-

become-a-geologist#:~:text=In%20most%20cases%2C%20the%20minimum.

Kowarski, Ilana. “How to Become a Geologist.” US News & World Report, U.S. News &

World Report, 2021, www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles

/how-to-become-a-geologist.



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