What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Geology?
Geology is a field that can be applied to a wide range of additional fields, including environmental science and engineering. Find out what jobs may be available for those with a master's in geology.
Career Options for a Master's in Geology
Geoscientists include titles like geologists, petroleum geologists, and paleontologists; these professionals must have at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree is common in the field. Although job duties vary by position, in general, geoscientists aim to study the past, present, and future of the Earth through the planet's physical structures and processes. This may involve creating geologic maps, finding deposits of natural resources, collecting and analyzing samples collected in the field, designing field studies, and presenting findings to the scientific community.
Mining and Geological Engineers
Mining and geological engineers usually have at least a bachelor's degree and a state license for professional engineers (PEs), but master's degrees may help advance students' careers. Geological engineers must survey various sites, determine which site is most likely to have mineral deposits, and then help plan how to best extract these deposits. This may require them to write detailed reports, study ways to ensure environmental safety and efficiency during extraction, and troubleshoot any issues that arise.
Entry-level positions as a hydrologist require a bachelor's degree, but many of these professionals begin with a master's degree in areas like geoscience. Hydrologists may focus their studies on groundwater or surface water and monitor the properties of bodies of water. Conducting these studies usually involves taking water and soil samples, monitoring erosion and sedimentation, observing the spread of flooding and/or pollution, and then presenting reports with their findings.
High School Teachers
Those with a background in geology may be interested in teaching Earth science and related areas at the secondary level as a high school teacher, which usually requires at least a bachelor's and teaching license or certificate, but some states may require teachers to earn their master's. High school teachers are responsible for teaching various classes in their subject area, which means planning lessons and designing assignments and exams. These educators also need to communicate with parents, grade work, and supervise students.
Environmental engineers have to have at least a bachelor's degree, but some employers may prefer those with a master's degree. These professionals pull from knowledge in engineering, soil science, chemistry, and more to try and address various environmental problems. Their goal is usually environmental protection as they plan environmentally-friendly projects, work with environmental remediation projects, ensure compliance with environmental regulations, and check the progress of environmental improvement initiatives.
Soil and Plant Scientists
Soil and plant scientists fall under the larger umbrella of agricultural and food scientists, who usually need to have at least a bachelor's degree, but graduate degrees allow these professionals to participate more in research. Soil scientists really focus on how the composition of the soil affects plant and crop growth. They may determine if additional soil treatments can improve the quality and quantity of plant growth, as well as advise on conservation and soil management techniques.
Environmental Scientists and Specialists
Environmental scientists and specialists must have at least a bachelor's degree in a natural science-related area, such as geoscience, but master's degrees are often needed for advancement. These professionals work to protect the environment and public health by monitoring different environments and creating plans to address any pollution issues that are found. This requires these scientists and specialists to collect and analyze samples of the water, air, soil, and more, as well as advise officials on environmental and health hazards and present their findings in reports.
Those with a background in geology may enter the petroleum field with titles like mudlogger or logging engineer, which falls under the umbrella of petroleum engineers, who typically need at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree may be preferred. In general, these engineers create ways to extract oil and gas deposits. They may need to monitor equipment, create plans to drill and recover the resources, and test and analyze well production.
|Job Title||Median Salary (2019)*||Job Growth (2019-2029)*|
|Mining and Geological Engineers||$91,160||4%|
|High School Teachers||$61,660||4%|
|Soil and Plant Scientists||$63,200||7%|
|Environmental Scientists and Specialists||$71,360||8%|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
A master's degree in geology is often a way to advance one's career in a wide range of science-related positions that work closely with the Earth and its environment. Graduates with a master's degree may be prepared for more research-based positions and have additional knowledge of the Earth's structure that can be beneficial in various fields.