Does our planet Earth mesmerize you? Do you wish to know how rocks, mountains, seas, deserts or forests were formed? Or maybe how we can stop earthquakes from causing damage? Or do you want to know how to find minerals or what kind of minerals can be found on Earth and where we can find them? Do you wish to study volcanic eruptions and how they are caused? Or do you want to find more water sources in these times of tremendous water poverty all over the world? If you are already deep in thought about these aspects of our planet, then a career as a Geologist/Earth Scientist may be a good option for you. Read on to discover more about it.
Geologists are involved in the exploration and scientific assessment of minerals, energy, and water resources through ground, satellite, airborne, and marine surveys. Earth Scientists / Geologists, through their studies and analyses, help in decision-making for formulating policies as well as plans for commercial, economic and societal needs, help in critical mineral assessments, infrastructure projects / urban planning, flood prediction and hazard mitigation by assessing water availability, oil/mineral deposits, assessing the risks of rock falls or landslides, earthquakes, underwater volcanic eruptions to humans, property and the environment on the whole.
Why Become a Geologist-Earth Scientist?
Geology is the study of our planet, the Earth, as well as other planetary objects like the moon or natural satellites in near-earth space. This includes the study of the materials that these planets are made of, the chemical / physical processes resulting in the properties on the surface and the interior. Geology includes the study of the history of Earth’s formation and the materials with which the Earth is made of.
What do Geologists primarily do?
Geologists are involved in the exploration and scientific assessment of minerals, energy and water resources through ground, satellite, airborne, and marine surveys.
Some Geologists study the formation, supply and conservation of groundwater or subsurface water that can be collected with wells, drainage pipes etc. or that flow naturally to the earth’s surface via springs and seeps. Some study mineral/ore deposits across the globe. Some Earth Scientists are involved in ecosystem modeling specifically to define wildlife sustainability.
Soil dynamics (land movements) are of special importance for Earth Scientists. In seismic (earthquake) engineering this affects the stability of dams, slopes, building foundations, walls and tunnels, while vibrations caused due to traffic and construction activities represent a significant concern as well.
Earth Scientists / Geologists, through their studies and analyses, help in decision-making for formulating policies as well as plans for commercial, economic and societal needs, help in critical mineral assessments, infrastructure projects / urban planning, flood prediction and hazard mitigation by assessing water availability, oil/mineral deposits, assessing the risks of rock falls or landslides, earthquakes, underwater volcanic eruptions to humans, property and the environment on the whole.
What will professional work be like?
Work will be field-based involving the physical collection of geological data from field areas according to work projects or will be laboratory-based for analyzing already collected data through experimentation, with the help of state of art methodologies, apparatuses and instruments and new emerging computer-based technologies. Work hours may also partially be office-based surrounding the interpretation and assessment of experimental outcomes and results.
As a Geologist/Earth Scientist, you will study and analyze geological materials like rocks, minerals, water and soil as well as the formation/movements of these. You will be studying the dynamic processes in the Earth’s core, mantle, and crust.
You will be involved in locating suitable agricultural areas, valuable mineral formations, water resources, abandoned mines, and contaminated land, by assessing the physical and chemical characteristics of the ground beneath our feet.
However, whether you would work at agricultural land, minerals, rocks, water, moon or mines, will depend on the branch of Geology that you are practicing the professional level, such as Planetary Geology, Mining Geology, Structural Geology or Hydrogeology etc.
Functional Fields of Work
As a Geologist/Earth Scientist, you will be involved in any one of the following broad functional domains and will assume responsibilities accordingly:
- The investigation, Fieldwork, Data Interpretation/Presentation
Work will involve the physical collection of geological data from field areas according to work projects. Work hours will also be partially laboratory / office-based surrounding computational analyses/interpretation of scientific data already acquired through field research in a corporate set-up or General Government Sector institutional units.
Work projects will generally be targeted at a specific sector of a certain industry for e.g. Agriculture, Communications & IT, Rural Development, Water Resources, Defense, Urban Planning, Consumer Services, Civil Construction, Mining etc.
- Inspection, Research, Analysis and Modeling
Work is primarily laboratory-based involving scientific inspection of collected geological data through experimentation, with the help of state of art methodologies, apparatuses and instruments and new emerging computer-based technologies. Work may involve the physical collection of geological data from field areas as well. Team members build geological maps and models too (2 D and 3 D), through simulation and computational designing.
- Issuing Authority – Permissions and Legal Notices
Work will be office based typically in General Government Sector departmental units. Work will involve reviewing and processing applications followed by issuing permits and notices for various geological and geophysical explorations or scientific research activities/projects before they begin. Existing knowledge of Geology and geological concerns has to be profound before investigating into different project objectives.
- Education and Training
Typically, in universities, all educators are involved in research – both fundamental and basic as well as applied research. For example, being an educator you may be working on a research project that uses geochemical data and modeling to identify all the ways saline groundwater can be contaminated. Simultaneously, you can be teaching a class of postgraduate students as well as supervising different doctoral research that PhD scholars in your team are completing.
Education here refers to both self-propelled independent research activities in a laboratory setting owned by an academic institution and imparting education/training to students or scholars pursuing higher studies in the disciplines of Geological Sciences, Earth Sciences, Geochemistry, Geodynamics, and all similar sub-branches.
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Popular Specialization in Geologist-Earth Scientist Profession
Geochemists try to understand the principles governing the distribution and re-distribution of elements, ionic species and isotope ratios in earth materials, to interpret processes such as magmatic crystallization (when molten magma solidifies), weathering, chemical precipitation, metamorphism (how rocks are formed), etc.
There are further sub-branches that Geochemists specialize in, such as Pure, Applied, Analytical, Experimental and Theoretical Geochemistry.
What Does a Geologist-Earth Scientist do?
As a Geologist/Earth Scientist, depending on your functional field of work, you will be engaged with one or more of the following roles and responsibilities: –
For Investigation, Fieldwork, Research, Modeling
- You will be working on a wide range of projects which will include mining and resources, roads, rail, civil and industrial.
- You will be analyzing and interpreting geological, geochemical, or geophysical information from various sources.
- You will be preparing geological maps, cross-sectional diagrams, models, charts, or reports relating to mineral extraction, land use, or resource management, from the results of fieldwork or laboratory research.
- You will be planning or conducting geological, geochemical, or geophysical field studies or surveys, sample collection, or drilling and testing programs to collect data for research or application.
- You will be creating visual representations of geological data, using complex procedures such as analytical modeling or software algorithms.
- You will be performing integrated or computerized analyses to address scientific problems.
- You will be applying standard mathematical formulas to identify and measure elevations, geographic locations etc.
- You will be reading current literature, talking with colleagues, continuing education, or participating in professional organizations or conferences to keep yourself informed of developments in relevant technology, equipment, or systems.
For Issuing Project Permits
- You will be reviewing and processing applications and issuing permits to drill and operate oil and gas wells, or all other geological and geophysical explorations or scientific research activities.
- You will have to ensure compliance with all applicable mitigation measures so that those activities do not interfere with or endanger aquatic life or cause harm to the marine, coastal, or human environment.
- You will have to assess the possibility of hydrocarbon emissions relating to various geological projects.
- You will have to ensure that all applications relating to shallow or deep drilling activities (involving solid or liquid explosives) for mineral exploration or scientific research utilize the best available and safest technologies.
- You will have to check that the concerned project does not involve restricted areas or geographical locations banned from any project activities.
For Education and Training
- You will be involved in conducting research regarding new technologies, experimental techniques, instruments and laboratory supplies that can improve research standards as well as operating procedures and outcomes.
- You will be preparing detailed written or verbal presentations, technical reports and compilations based on research outcomes for publication, grant or patent applications.
- You may be involved in teaching/demonstrating to a class of postgraduate students or a team of research scholars pursuing this academic discipline in an educational establishment.
- You will participate in seminars, science congresses, and conferences across the world.
How to Become a Geologist-Earth Scientist – Eligibility Criteria
After Class 11-12 preferably with Mathematics along with any other subject as per the scheme of studies, you can study for an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering (with PCM)/ Geological Sciences / Earth Sciences / Physics. Then you can do a Master’s degree. Then you may either opt for a job opportunity or do a Ph.D. and thereafter go for post-doctoral studies.
You can study for a Bachelor’s / Master’s / Doctoral degree in any of the following fields (Note that all these fields may not offer you a degree at all three levels, that is in Bachelor’s, Masters and Doctoral. Some fields may offer a degree only at the Master’s or at the Doctoral level or maybe a certificate/specialization course only):
- Applied Geophysics
- Applied Geology
- Earth Sciences
- Engineering Geology
- Engineering Geosciences
- Environmental Geology
- Exploration Geology
- Exploration Geosciences
- Geological Oceanography
- Marine Geology
- Mining Geology
- Petroleum Geology
- Physical Oceanography
- Planetary Geology
- Structural Geology
After your Bachelor’s degree, you may get a work opportunity as a Project Assistant in organizations like the Geological Survey of India. However, there are rare opportunities to get a job after a Bachelor’s degree.
After your Master’s degree, you may get a work opportunity as an Assistant Geologist / Geoscientist / Geophysicist / Field Geologist / Project Geologist / Engineering Geologist / Petroleum Geologist / Exploration Geologist / Scientist – Geoscience / Mine Surveyor / in similar positions in organizations such as:
- Geological Survey of India, Central Ground Water Board, Indian Bureau of Mines, etc. / or if you are in other countries, similar survey organizations under the country’s Government
- Geological / Mineral research organizations such as CSIR – Geophysical Research Institute, CSIR-North East Institute of Science & Technology, etc.
- Geological / Geoscience research divisions of Space Research organizations and other similar organizations like the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, ISRO, NASA, etc.
- Petroleum exploration/oil & gas companies such as Oil India Limited, ONGC, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Saudi Aramco, Reliance Industries Ltd., Essar Oil, Cairn India, etc.
- Mineral exploration, extraction, processing, refining, and production companies such as Coal India Ltd., Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Rosneft, Sterlite Industries, etc.
- Large-scale Infrastructure and construction companies such as L&T, Bechtel, TechnipFMC, Fluor Corporation, McDermott International, Gammon India Ltd., etc.
- Large-scale oilfield consulting and services companies such as Schlumberger, Halliburton, Engineers India Ltd., Baker Hughes, etc.
- Universities that carry out research in Geological / Earth Sciences and offer courses in these areas – you can either join a Junior Research Fellow / Doctoral Fellow after your Master’s degree or as Post-Doctoral Fellow after your Ph.D. After your Ph.D., you can get a teaching position as an Assistant Professor or a similar position.
Salary of a Geologist-Earth Scientist
If you join as a Project Assistant after your Bachelor’s degree, you will get about Rs. 27,000 per month.
After your Master’s degree, if you opt for a work opportunity, at the beginning of your career in India, you will earn about Rs. 40,000-1,00,000 in a private sector organization (higher salaries are offered to those with M.Tech. from IITs or similar institutions). However, in Government organizations such as the Geological Survey of India and CSIR research organizations, you may get about Rs. 60,000 per month in the beginning. If you join a University, you will get similar salaries.
However, if you join as a Junior Research Fellow after your Master’s degree, you will receive about Rs. 35,000 per month. As a Senior Research Fellow, you will receive about Rs. 38,000 per month.
After your Doctoral degree, if you join a corporate private sector organization, you may expect to get about Rs. 70,000 – 1,25,000 per month.
After having 4-6 years of industry experience, you may expect to earn about Rs. 70,000 – 1,50,000 per month. Mid-level salaries will be about Rs. 1,20,000-2,50,000 per month and senior-level salaries will be about Rs. 2,50,000 – 4,50,000 per month.
Remember that, if you are not a US citizen, getting a job in the USA after a bachelor’s degree will be a rare case. However, after your Graduate (Master’s or Ph.D.), you may look forward to if you do really well in your course. The chances of getting a job after graduate courses increase with the reputation of the university from where you graduate. However, if you are from a premier institute like IIT, you may get a campus placement in USA. But even that is few and far between.
At the entry-level jobs, after your Bachelor’s degree depending upon the institution where you are graduating, you may expect to get about USD 3,000 – 4,500 or even more a month.
After 4-5 years of work experience, you may expect to earn around USD 4,000 to USD 7,000 a month or more depending on your job location and roles.
At the entry-level jobs after postgraduation, you may expect to get about USD 4,500 – 6,000 or even more a month. Entry-level job packages hover around USD 55,000-70,000 per annum for candidates with 0-5 years of experience.
In junior-level jobs (after 4-5 years of postgraduation), you can make about USD 5,000 – 8,000 or more per month.
In mid-level jobs (after having 8-10 years of experience), you can expect to earn about USD 7,000 – 10,000 or even more a month.
In senior-level jobs (after having 15 years of experience), you can expect to earn about USD 10,000 – 15,000 or even more a month.
Petroleum Geologists are undoubtedly the highest paid among all geologists owing to industry profitability. Currently, the normal range for the majority of roles is $85,002 – $104,733 p.a. Annual bonuses are $2,682 – $45,933 p.a.
For example, a Hydrogeology Project Officer after completing her tertiary studies may get a base salary of $68,334 p.a – $84,915 p.a or more.
As a Staff Geologist after completing postgraduation studies, you may expect a base salary of $75,000 – $90,000 or more per year and as a GeoscienceRemediation Analyst, you may expect a base salary of $86000 p.a.
Likewise after your Ph.D., as a Sustainability Scientist, you may expect a base salary of $95,198 or more per year, as a Senior Environmental Planner you may expect a base salary of $105,000 – $120,999 or more per year and as a Director –Resource Estimation and Scientific Advancement you may expect a base salary of $125,000 – $140,000 or more per year.
Middle Eastern, North African and South East Asian countries
Remember that unless you have 5-10 years of good work experience, it is not feasible to get a job. If you get one, that’s a rare case or you may get placed in these countries only from your campus interview.
After having 5-10 years of experience, in these countries, you may get about Rs. 1,50,000 – 2,50,000 or more a month along with other benefits like tax-free salaries, travel expenses, etc. Mid-level salaries range from Rs. 3,00,000 – 5,00,000 or more a month. Senior-level salaries range from 5,00,000 – 15,00,000 or more a month. All salaries are mentioned when exchanged for Indian Rupee. Salaries could also be lesser in some countries like Egypt and Malaysia.
Career Progression in Geologist-Earth Scientist Profession
If you begin your career as an Assistant Geologist / Geoscientist / Field Geologist / Project Geologist / Geophysicist / Engineering Geologist / Petroleum Geologist / Exploration Geologist / Scientist – Geoscience / Mine Surveyor / in a similar position then you will progress as:
Senior Geologist/Geoscientist/similar position – Division Head / Principal Geologist / similar position – Director / General Manager – Vice President – President / Executive Director (In India, the highest position is that of an organization Director / Managing Director)
If you are joining a University as a faculty member, then your career progression path will be:
Assistant Professor or similar – Associate Professor or similar – Professor or similar – Director of a School / Institute – Dean (In India, however, Director is the highest position for a school/institute).
What does Industry Trends Say – Future Prospects
You can expect a decent future in this field as the industry growth prospects are encouraging. The Environmental Testing market was valued at USD 8.47 billion in 2016 and is expected to achieve 12.75 billion USD by 2022, at a rate of 7.1% compounded annually.
Analysts estimate that the Global Environmental Sensor and Monitoring business may grow from $13.2 billion in 2014 to almost $17.6 billion in 2019, a rate of 5.9% compounded annually for the period of 2014 – 2019. The market in Asia-Pacific is projected to grow at the highest rate owing to the increasing industrial activities and rising concern for environmental pollution.
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