Major Overview

The earth is magnificent place that holds so much history, and yet is constantly changing. If you would like to study the earth, from renewable energy sources to minerals and rock structures, a major in Geological and Earth Sciences may be for you.

Students who major in Geological and Earth Sciences take classes in biology, mineralogy, geochemistry, physical geology, and petrology in order to learn everything about the earth. They will study minerals, rocks, soil chemistry, and natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanoes. This major informs students about the earth's past, present and future.

Possible concentrations in this field include general Geology and Earth Science, Geochemistry, Geophysics and Seismology, Paleontology, Hydrology and Water Resources Science, Geochemistry and Petrology, Chemical and Physical Oceanography.

Required Skills

This major involves lot of science classes. Students will be expected to understand the chemical make-up of certain compositions, be able to perform experiments, and analyze data. Strong critical thinking and analytical skills will help you work on complex problems and draw conclusions from observations and data. Writing and communication skills are also important because scientists must be able to explain their findings to other people who do not have a background in Geological and Earth Sciences.

A degree in Geological and Earth Sciences typically leads to a full time career as a scientist. While you will spend time in offices and laboratories, you will also be expected to conduct fieldwork. This means traveling and putting in long and irregular hours for certain projects.

Previous experience is important in this field and employers often look for students who have gained both field and lab experience while working towards their degree. You can gain this experience through internships or summer field camp programs. These allow students to get hands-on experience conducting experiments, analyzing data, and incorporating classroom knowledge into a real world setting under the advisement of a professor.

Depending on where you decide to work, you may need to earn certification first. It is best to check state laws to ensure you are fulfilling all requirements, as these can vary.

Careers

Geological and Earth Science graduates work in a variety of fields. Some have gone into the oil and gas industry, engineering firms, mining companies, environmental firms, and government agencies. Those with advanced degrees also perform independent research. Since many industries rely on the earth or interact with it in some way, Geological and Earth Science graduates have many career options. This field is growing at a faster than average pace, meaning graduates will have a good job opportunities available after graduation.

Geological and Earth Sciences graduates earn an average starting salary of $44,059 and mid-career salary of $79,118.

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Major at a Glance

Top statistics for this major

College Ranking by Major

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Yearly Graduations
 6,663
Average Starting Salary
$44,059
Average Mid-Career Salary
$79,118

Example Careers

Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Geological and Earth Sciences might open up.

Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary
Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary
Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers
Hydrologists
Natural Sciences Managers
Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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