Geologist Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Geologist Do?

Geologists study the Earth’s physical structure, processes, and history. In addition to studying rocks, minerals, soils, and other materials, they also study the structure and composition of the Earth’s surface and interior. Remote sensing technology, satellite imagery, and fieldwork are some of the methods geologists use to investigate and analyze the Earth’s features.

Geologists’ work can help us understand how the Earth has changed over time, predict and mitigate natural disasters like earthquakes and landslides, and locate important resources like oil, gas, and minerals. In addition to studying how human activities affect Earth’s ecosystems and natural resources, geologists also play a critical role in environmental conservation and management.

The work of a geologist is essential to understanding the Earth and its processes, as well as addressing issues related to natural disasters, resource management, and sustainability.

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National Average Salary

Geologist salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Geologist is:


Geologist Job Descriptions

The first step when hiring a great geologist is a well-crafted job description. Below are real-world examples to help give you the best chance of success on your recruiting journey.

Example 1

Do you enjoy working with the earth? Are you interested in taking on meaningful and hands-on challenges that will save lives and property? If so, [Your Company Name] is looking to hire someone new. Geologists use their understanding of the planet, as well as advanced tools and technology, to identify natural resources and develop improved research methods. More importantly, they try to form predictions about land processes based on previous natural disasters in order to interpret and report data for future use. Geologists work in cooperation with other scientists and analysts to collaboratively interpret different types of data as they focus on the world around us.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Collect and analyze surface soil samples
  • Develop detailed project maps and reports according to project specifications
  • Document and explain all findings and note any issues or concerns
  • Collaborate with a team of subcontractors to ensure each phase of a project is complete
  • Compile and present findings and recommendations to project management

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in geosciences, engineering, or geophysics 
  • Professional Geologist licensure preferred

Required skills and qualifications

  • Broad knowledge of federal, state, and local environmental regulations
  • Experience with ecological surveying and reporting
  • Knowledge of various sampling techniques and equipment
  • Robust critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent written and communications skills 
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office and industry-related software
  • Comfortable with fieldwork

Preferred qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in geology, science, or related field
  • 2+ years as a geoscience technician
  • Proficient with Microsoft software
  • Strong work ethic and enthusiasm
  • Takes responsibility for his/her own work and can operate with limited supervision
  • Ensure exemplary ESG practices

Example 2

The responsibilities of this position

  • Conducting environmental field work, including soil logging, groundwater sampling, fluid level gauging and oversight of field surveys, drilling, well installation, development operations, and utility clearance for intrusive operations
  • Field document preparation, field data collection, processing, and interpretation
  • Supporting office tasks, including data analysis, and report preparation

Minimum requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Geology, Soil Science, Environmental Science, or closely related field
  • Valid US Driver’s license
  • Due to the nature of the work, US Citizenship is required

Preferred qualifications

  • Related work experience, overseeing drilling operations is a plus
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel)
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • 40-Hour HAZWOPER Training

Additional details

  • Relocation assistance is not available for this position
  • Qualified applicants who are offered a position must pass a pre-employment substance abuse test
  • This position may be subject to a pre-employment Motor Vehicle Record Screening
  • This position does not include sponsorship for United States work authorization

Example 3

Assignments may include working as an individual or as part of a project team to assist with environmental site assessments; on-site investigations of contaminated soil, sediment, groundwater, surface water, and vapor; aquifer test performance and analysis, construction observation, and preparation of drilling logs, geologic maps, cross-sections, and technical reports. On-site investigation tasks may include observing drilling and monitoring well installation, classifying soil and bedrock samples, and collecting samples for field screening and laboratory analysis. Fieldwork opportunities for this position will be year-round and will include some out-of-town travel.

Minimum qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in geology, hydrogeology, or geological engineering
  • Academic coursework directly related to the job responsibilities described above and successful completion of a field or research course
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0
  • Strong interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills and the ability to communicate effectively with project team members, regulators, and clients
  • Strong technical and problem solving skills
  • Attention to detail, accuracy, and completeness
  • Strong computer skills, including word processing and use of spreadsheets
  • A flexible working style and the ability to work independently and with teams of specialists to meet client and project needs
  • Willingness to travel and periodically adjust personal schedules to meet project needs (up to 25% travel and 50% or more fieldwork expected; project needs will vary seasonally and over time)
  • Legal authorization to work in the United States without the need for sponsorship
  • Acceptable driving record

Preferred qualifications

  • Master’s degree in geology, hydrogeology, or geological engineering
  • Coursework related to groundwater flow
  • 1–3 years of experience related to environmental work
  • 40-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) certification
  • Familiarity with environmental regulations, including Michigan EGLE Part 201 Program

Example 4

The successful candidate will assist with gathering and analyzing geological, hydrogeological, hydrologic, and geochemical data in both the field and office settings.

  • The field activities will consist of soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment, air and soil vapor sample collection, geological logging and interpretation, and the oversight of subcontractors including laboratories and excavation and drilling companies
  • The office activities will involve preparation of boring logs, tables, and investigation reports, and review of documents prepared by others

The responsibilities of this position

  • Candidate must also be able to work as part of a project team comprised of staff and subcontractors
  • Flexibility to work on a multitude of diverse projects, a positive attitude, and commitment to workplace health and safety are imperative
  • Field work will be required including oversight of subcontractors
  • Utilizes basic scientific principles, theories, practices, and existing technologies to develop solutions for technical problems with limited scope
  • Collects and enters data, and applies technical principles and theories
  • Interprets and records data, conducts analyses, compares findings to relevant studies and local, state, and federal regulations to ensure compliance
  • Entry-level position; may not require previous experience

Minimum requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in Geology, Environmental Science, Geoscience, Hydrogeology, or related field
  • Valid Driver’s license
  • Due to the nature of work, U.S. Citizenship is required

Preferred qualifications

  • Ability to understand and supervise advancement of soil borings and installation of monitoring wells
  • Ability to demonstrate a primary technical role in multiple site characterization, subsurface investigation and remediation projects at various client sites
  • Understand and assist with site conceptual models
  • Collect and evaluate environmental data in field and office settings
  • Prepare investigation reports and drawings
  • Possesses technical report writing skills
  • Independent field work and leadership of field teams
  • Contractor oversight
  • Selected candidate will be required to complete 40 hour HAZWOPER training or annual refresher class, if needed
  • Selected Candidate will also receive First Aid/CPR training and specific training
  • Learn and develop a keen understanding of hazard recognition; and environmental investigation or remediation
  • Ability to travel up to 80% to various job sites locally and regionally
  • Candidate must be proficient with basic computer programs; MS Word and MS Excel

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • EdX Geology Course – This beginner-level course will introduce candidates to the various aspects of geology, gathered by the top universities and institutes worldwide. They’ll learn about geological structures, processes, and resources, celestial systems, and the environmental issues we face. Candidates have the option to specialize in different subcategories, and by the end, they’ll have the knowledge and groundwork to learn more complicated areas if desired.
  • Geology Coursera Certification – Coursera offers multiple courses created to help reinforce a candidate’s knowledge of oceanography, mountains, groundwater contamination, and the geological history of the planet. Additionally, these courses can be extremely useful in preparation for geology examinations taken in formal education settings.
  • Udemy Geology Certification – These courses can provide the entire scope of education needed for geologists, from crash courses to highly specialized classes on advanced topics. Candidates will find topics on physical psychology, sedimentology, survey methods, geochemistry, and much more.

Sample Interview Questions

  • When did you first become interested in the field of geology, and what inspired you to become a geologist?
  • What are your steps for developing a research plan for a new geology project?
  • What was your most challenging fieldwork experience, and how did you overcome it?
  • What are your methods for staying up-to-date with the latest research and developments in geology, and how do you apply this knowledge to your work?
  • Have you ever had to communicate a complex scientific concept or finding to a non-technical audience and how did you do so?
  • What methods do you use to prioritize and manage competing demands and deadlines in your work, such as fieldwork, lab work, and writing reports?
  • Are there any research projects or studies you are particularly proud of, and what impact have they had on the field of geology?
  • What steps do you take to minimize any sources of error or bias in your research, and how do you ensure that your findings are accurate and valid?

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