Careers in the Earth sciences

Introduction

There is a wide range of career opportunities open to geology graduates, for example within the hydrocarbons, mining and quarrying and civil engineering industries; government and government supported scientific establishments, geological surveys, specialist geological consultants and research companies, and teaching. These industries are susceptible to economic fluctuations and employment opportunities can be variable.

BGS case studies

Our staff come from all sorts of interesting backgrounds and do a wide variety of jobs. These case studies will give you an idea of the qualifications needed for jobs within the Earth sciences:

Activities available within industry

Most professional geologists spend at least part of their working career doing fieldwork, sometimes in remote areas in difficult conditions.

In the oil, mining and quarrying industries geologists work in exploration, surveying and surface mapping in geologically promising areas of the world, looking for new prospects and working out the size of the reserves. In the oil industry geologists log and/or analyse material from test drilling, decide whether to continue testing and decide where to site development wells.

Most oil firms have their own research labs which provide analytical services and theoretical analysis, for example to improve the ways of predicting where oil may be found.

The mining industry employs geologists advising on development and estimating reserves and structural safety.

In the construction industry engineering geologists advise civil engineers and specialist site investigation consultants on subsurface rock stability. Environmental Geologists advise on the suitability of sites for waste disposal and on contaminated land and other man-made geohazards.

What sort of degree course could I take?

Students have the option of participating on a single degree as well as joint degree course; the latter option, offering the opportunity of studying two subjects may open up additional employment opportunities, for example a joint degree in chemistry and geology may lead to a career in the ceramics or glass industry. Some combined studies courses, especially modular ones, are attractive as they reduce the importance of final exams; modules are graded as you progress so that your performance on the whole course counts towards the final result. Following this route may enable you to defer a career decision until you have a stronger idea of your interests.