If you're interested in exploring the earth's composition and solving thorny ecological issues, perhaps a career in geochemistry would be right for you. Find degree requirements for geochemists here, as well as additional information about career options, earnings and job growth.

Is Geochemistry for Me?

Career Overview

Geochemistry is a geoscience and subdiscipline of geology that studies the chemical composition of the earth and other planets. As a geologist specializing in geochemistry, you'll investigate a variety of earthen materials, such as coal and ore deposits, fossil flora and fauna, petroleum and natural gas. Geologists help in the search for natural gas, as well as oil and minerals. Additionally, they work on solving environmental problems, such as how to handle spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.

As a geologist, you may find yourself involved in fieldwork that requires a fair amount of travel. You may even travel to remote locations accessible only by helicopter or on foot.

Career Options

As a geochemist, you may work for a consulting or engineering firm, mining company or government agency. You might also be employed as an environmental geologist, a mineralogist or a petroleum geologist. Additionally, you could also conduct research and teach for a college or university. In some of these positions, you' might spend time out in the field leading data collection teams or in a lab studying your findings.

Employment and Salary Information

In May 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers, had a median annual wage of $91,920. According to the BLS, employment for geoscientists was predicted to grow 16% nationwide from 2012-2022, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. Candidates with a master's degree in a relevant field of study were expected to fare the best, especially in the oil, gas and consulting industries. Budgetary issues may limit the number of federal agency and state government jobs (

How Can I Work in Geochemistry?

Educational Requirements

While geochemistry programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, most employers prefer applicants who possess a master's degree. A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is typically necessary for research and teaching positions at the college level.

Undergraduate Programs

Core coursework in geoscience typically includes an introduction to chemistry, along with more specialized topics in analytical, physical, inorganic chemistry and geochemistry. You'll also take classes in mineralogy, petrology, mathematics and physics.

Graduate Programs

A Master of Science in Geology program can provide you with the chance to pursue more advanced studies in hydrogeochemistry and stratigraphy, which is the study of rock strata. You'll also learn about stable isotope geochemistry and advanced hydrology while becoming familiar with environmental regulations. Additional degree requirements include a thesis. Most Ph.D. programs require you to write and defend a dissertation based on original research.

Certification and Licensing

Although regulations vary from state to state, according to the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG), 28 states have registration, licensure or certification laws ( If you'll be offering your services as a geologist directly to the public, you'll most likely need to obtain a license. If a license is not necessary, you may wish to look into voluntary certification, which can serve as proof of competency to prospective employers.

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