Geophysical Engineering and Technology

Geophysical engineering and technology involves gathering, studying and measuring the elements contained within the Earth's interior, like oil, water and natural gas. Read on to learn more about education, career options, salaries and job growth for geoscience specialists.

Is Geophysical Engineering and Technology for Me?

Career Overview

Geophysical engineer and technologists conduct field studies, investigate methods for environmentally safe waste disposal and search for new sources of natural resources. They may also investigate and classify geological materials, including fossils, minerals and rocks. Additional responsibilities can include analyzing data from seismographs, magnetometers, charts and graphs. As a geophysical engineer or geologist, you could work on rebuilding and infrastructure projects, digging and energy expeditions or environmental quality control assessments.

Career Options

Geophysical engineers can work for architectural and engineering firms, private extraction and mining companies, the government or as professors at universities. Paleontologists, seismologists and hydrologists also work within the field of geophysical engineering and technology.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for geoscientists was $91,920 as of May 2013. The number of jobs in this field is expected to grow by 16% nationwide from 2012-2022, a growth rate considered to be faster than the average by the BLS. Also, according to the BLS, the median wage for postsecondary engineering teachers was $94,460 in the same year (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Geophysical Engineering and Technology?

Undergraduate Programs

High school, courses in the physical sciences, mathematics, geography and technology can lay the foundation for further studies. At a 4-year accredited university, you could pursue a bachelor's degree in geology or a bachelor's degree in physics. Some courses you might encounter in your geology program include linear algebra, electronics, statistics and seismic prospecting; you'll also participate in field work. In addition to major coursework, undergraduate geology programs can incorporate classes offered by other departments, such as physics, computer science, mathematics and/or electrical engineering.

Graduate Programs

If you are more inclined towards teaching or new, groundbreaking research, you'll most likely need a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Geophysics. Master's and doctoral programs can also expand upon your knowledge of engineering and geophysics and typically include a more substantive thesis, research and/or seminar requirement. After earning a graduate degree in geophysics, you could be employed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the United States Geological Survey.

Advancement and Licensure

To advance in the field of geophysical engineering and technology, you'll need to be proficient in the use of the computer hardware and software used in the industry, as well as the laws and legal codes associated with the field. Competency in a foreign language, research experience and good interpersonal skills may be helpful. Certain states will require you to obtain a license in order to do certain kinds of geophysical engineering.

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