By Dr. David W. Barber

Geology is the study of the Earth, its history, the processes that control and shape it, the resources it provides, and how to preserve and protect them. We can observe and appreciate its natural beauty, we can wonder about what is under the surface, we can desire to find out its mysteries, or we can even have a father who is a geologist like I did, but, whatever the reason, we decide to become a geologist. Because I could observe and learn from my Dad, I had some ideas about what I could do as a geologist but most of us do not. Even I was surprised at the vast number of choices that a geology degree could offer me during my career as a geologist.  

I started with a love for Science and Math in high school, with Math my primary focus. However, I also enjoyed History, French, even English classes; I guess you would have classified me as an academic nerd. Whatever your background, from class president to class clown, the study of Geology can lead you into  exciting and rewarding careers because of the simple fact that, for now at least, the Earth is our home. It supports and sustains us, and its proper care and maintenance is a vital issue for all of us.

A Geology degree is not a requirement for working in the geoscience industry, but it opens the door to a large array of career paths within and attendant to that industry. Geoscience, also called Earth Science, studies all aspects of the nature and behavior of our planet. As a geologist, depending on your interests and passions, you can investigate different aspects of the composition and operation of the Earth. For instance, you can study the composition and distribution of the rocks that make up the outer layer of the Earth, the crust, or you can study plate tectonics which describes the movement of the continental and oceanic plates that make up the crust. These two pathways in geologic careers can further divide depending on the purpose of the studies. A petroleum geologist studying the distribution of rocks is looking for oil and gas reserves; the mining geologist, for mineral deposits; the hydrologist, for fresh water aquifers. The study of plate tectonics can be applied to gaining a better understanding of the history of the earth or to the prediction and prevention of earthquakes. The study of geology offers many opportunities to find and develop a career path best suited for your own talents and interests.

Geologists also have the ability to choose careers that permit them to work in the surroundings they enjoy most. The working environment for the geologist can range from the laboratory to the field, from the office to a National Park, from the computer room to the derrick floor of a well, or from a skyscraper to an oceanic research vessel. International travel and job opportunities give geologists the ability to gain world-wide experience across the globe, getting to know other lands, people and cultures, if so desired. They will be able to have a significant impact wherever they work in making our world a more prosperous, safer, cleaner and less hazardous habitation while preserving and protecting the natural beauty of our planet. 

Geological careers may be grouped into 5 categories: corporate, nonprofit, governmental, secondary education and academic. The educational requirements within each category vary greatly, although the academic arena is the most challenging with a PhD degree required. In the corporate arena, the larger oil companies generally hire Masters or PhD level geologists while smaller ones will hire geologists with Bachelor degrees. There are many routes to acquiring the degrees needed for geology positions; they include community or junior colleges, colleges and universities, but also remote, online classes that allow the student the flexibility of choosing his or her own hours while continuing to work at another job to pay the bills. Modern technology has greatly facilitated obtaining the necessary degrees.

Learning more about the job opportunities available and the nature of the work involved does not require having a father in the business. The internet provides access to detailed descriptions of the technology being used in various industries in the field of geology. For instance, if you researched https://mountsopris.com/wellcad/borehole-well-logging-software/ you would find an in-depth look at the field of borehole logging which allows the geologist to measure, analyze and communicate to his coworkers the characteristics of the formations and their fluids encountered by the wellbore.  

The study of Geology also provides the students an opportunity to develop and enhance a very practical and useful set of skills which will be valuable to them in mastering and excelling in solving real life problems in other fields. In contrast to other scientific fields, geology provides the student the challenge of working with incomplete data sets and a mixture of descriptive and numerical data to answer open-ended problems with multiple possible solutions, requiring choosing the best possible answer with the limited information available. Every new well drilled, whether in exploration or development, adds a new set of information to the database of the petroleum geologist. The ability to predict the future based on the incomplete knowledge of the present is a powerful attribute of all successful people in whatever walk of life they are engaged.

A Geology degree supplies a key to open the doors of many exciting and rewarding careers that will provide you fruitful and satisfying accomplishments in your work life. Technology has advanced quickly and the ability to collect and analyze data remotely and more thoroughly is at the forefront. Even now, robotic technicians are collecting and analyzing the character of the rocks on the surface of Mars. A Geology degree may give you a passport for a trip to our planetary neighbor.