Earth Science Degree

Earth scientists spend more time in the field than other scientists, although some of them work in laboratories and teach at universities. Conservation and non-profit organizations, petroleum companies, private research labs and the Federal government also employ earth scientists.

Earth Science Degrees

The level of education required for a career as an earth scientist varies based on the specific field and type of work, but the following degrees apply:

  • Bachelor’s degree in earth science (geoscience) or another related science field
  • Master’s degree in earth science (geoscience), another related science field, math, engineering or computer science
  • Doctorate degree for teaching science at the university level or for advanced research projects

Twenty-eight states require that earth scientists take an examination and acquire proper licensure in order to work. Related field include geology.

Earth Scientist Job Description

Earth scientists act as field scientists, researchers, educators, conservationists and consultants. They typically work in the geology, geophysics or hydrology fields and apply principles from mathematics, physics and chemistry to analyze the internal structure and atmosphere of the earth.

Earth scientists, depending on their specific employment, may travel to remote field sites or to meet with prospective investors. If they work for the Federal government or universities, these scientists may also be required to write and present grant proposals to fund their research.

An earth scientist could be responsible for any of the following assignments:

  • Identify and examine geological formations
  • Study data and prepare scientific reports
  • Conduct geologic surveys
  • Construct field maps
  • Use instruments to measure the earth’s gravity and magnetic field
  • Perform and document laboratory experiments
  • Write grant programs
  • Create educational materials for conservation and education societies
  • Teach at a university

Many different job opportunities exist for earth scientists with Federal and State government agencies, non-profit environmental organizations, petroleum companies, private industry and colleges.

Earth Science Fields

  • Meteorologist

    Meteorologists study, analyze and predict atmospheric conditions. They research weather causes and trends and make short term and long-term weather and climate forecasts using a wide range of observational and mathematical methods.

  • Geologist

    Geologists examine the composition and processes of the earth. They analyze plant and animal fossils, and determine how rocks were formed. Geologists focus on the structure of the earth as well as the history of its design. A geologist incorporates a mixture of different sciences including physics, chemistry and biology.

  • Geological Specialist

    Geological specialists examine physical aspects of the earth including its composition and structure. They utilize concepts from geology, physics, and mathematics as they explore for oil, gas, and underground water sources. Geological specialists work on environmental issues such land reclamation and waste disposal.

Earth Science Salary

Over the next decade, opportunities for earth scientists are expected to rise by 18%, as noted by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. This increase is more than typical in comparison to other professions.

As of March 2009, the average salary for an earth scientist employed by the Federal government was $100,000. The average annual income for earth scientists employed by other companies and foundations was around $79,000, per Federal government statistics from 2008. Overall, wages range from around $42,000 to over $155,000.

Petroleum and mining industries offer the greatest income potential but also provide the least amount of job stability due to issues related to commodity pricing fluctuations.

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