What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Senior Geologist?

Senior geologistWhen deciding on a major, college students consider not only what tasks they are good at and what work they enjoy doing, but also the job outlook and salary of potential careers. Studying science in college is a good choice for many students, and using that science degree to become a senior geologist is one way graduates can maximize earning potential. Senior geologist is among the top paying careers for college graduates who majored in physical and biological science. Experienced professionals in this field earn a median salary of $82,000 per year. As the “senior” portion of the job title implies, senior geologist is a high-level position that requires a college degree and years of work experience.

Choosing the Right Major for a Geology Career

Geologists geoscientists that study the Earth’s history, processes and materials, specifically in regards to rock formation. By studying different types of rocks and minerals, these scientists can learn about the Earth’s past and what’s happening in the present. They can even use this information to understand how the Earth’s surface and interior could change in the future. A geologist will be responsible for not only knowing about rocks, but being able to design and conduct research and field studies, evaluate data and samples and summarize their findings in written documents and oral presentations.

Geologists need a wide range of knowledge and skills, so choosing an undergraduate college major that will provide them with the right education is essential. Degree programs in geosciences or geology are among the most popular for aspiring geologists and are often favored by employers, but they aren’t the only options. Students can also major in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, mathematics or even computer science, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A student who chooses not to major in geology or geosciences should take as many geology courses as possible, including structural geology, mineralogy and petrology. Courses in life sciences and computer science are also valuable. Students can get a head start on attaining the real-world experience through internships, laboratory research and field studies.

Senior-Level Requirements

Of course, graduates don’t become senior geologists straight out of college. Once they have earned a bachelor’s degree, they can begin working in entry-level geology positions. Most senior geologists have worked in the field for at least five years before advancing to their high-level position. They have demonstrated their skills, knowledge and dedication during that time. Candidates who aspire to become senior-level geologists can help themselves stand out by seeking licensure, taking on challenging job responsibilities and earning an advanced degree, like a Ph.D.

Becoming a senior geologist has many benefits, like a large annual salary, the prestige of a high-level position and the opportunity to make contributions to the geosciences. Though candidates must invest years studying and working in the profession before moving up to this position, they often find that the perks are well worth the time and effort.

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris