Approximately 31,000 geoscientists (including geologists) are employed in the United States; about 27 percent of all geologists work in Texas. The majority of geologists are employed in private industry. Some work for oil and gas extraction and mining companies, primarily in exploration. The rest work for business services, environmental and geotechnical consulting firms, or are self-employed as consultants to industry and government. The federal government employs geologists in the Department of the Interior (in the U.S. Geological Survey or the Bureau of Reclamation) and in the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, and Commerce. Geologists also work for state agencies, nonprofit research organizations, and museums. Many geologists hold faculty positions at colleges and universities and most of these combine their teaching with research.
After completing sufficient educational requirements, preferably a master's degree or doctorate, the geologist may look for work in various areas, including private industry and government. For those who wish to teach at the college level, a doctorate is required. College graduates may also take government civil service examinations or possibly find work on state geological surveys, which are sometimes based on civil service competition.
Geologists often begin their careers in field exploration as geological technicians or as research assistants in laboratories.
As they gain experience, geologists are given more difficult assignments and may be promoted to supervisory positions, such as project leader or program manager. A geologist with a bachelor's degree has little chance of advancing to these higher level positions. Continued formal training and work experience are necessary, especially as competition for these positions grows more intense. A doctorate is essential for most college or university teaching positions and is preferred for much research work.
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Join the Geological Society of America (GSA) as a student or professional member to take advantage of networking opportunities, receive member discounts on publications, and participate in continuing education, and access other resources.
Attend the GSA's annual meeting to make networking contacts, participate in mentorship programs, learn about jobs, and participate in continuing education opportunities.
Be willing to relocate. It may open more job opportunities.