GeologistJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Those who are passionate about Earth will flourish as geologists. They study the solids, liquids, and gasses that make up Earth and all other planets. Many geologists are also an advocate for bettering the environment. They study different Earth materials such as rocks, minerals, fossil fuels, sediment, and different gasses. The duties of this job are versatile, as there are endless specialized fields of study with being a Geologist. One duty may involve doing individual studies and/or experiments about the specific ground, while another duty may involve learning how to extract earth materials, such as fossil fuels, in a safe way. Other responsibilities of this job include analyzing surface soils, documenting any findings of Earth materials, and so on.

Sample job description

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 and advanced tools and technology to identify natural resources and develop improved research methods. More importantly, they try to form predictions about land processes and learn from previous natural disasters to interpret and report data for future use. Geologists work in cooperation with other scientists and analysts to collaboratively interpret different types of data and form larger pictures of 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 and subcontractors to ensure each phase of a project is complete
  • Compile and present findings and recommendations to project management

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in geosciences, engineering, or geophysics. Employers often prefer candidates with Professional Geologist licensure.

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

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a geologist is $97,500 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$96,950$131,150
Los Angeles, California$109,350$148,000
Denver, Colorado$91,150$123,350
Washington, DC$111,050$150,250
Miami, Florida$90,750$122,750
Orlando, Florida$83,700$113,250
Tampa, Florida$84,500$114,350
Atlanta, Georgia$88,650$119,950
Chicago, Illinois$101,950$137,900
Boston, Massachusetts$110,200$149,150
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$87,850$118,850
New York City, New York$116,050$156,950
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$94,450$127,800
Dallas, Texas$91,950$124,450
Houston, Texas$91,550$123,850
Seattle, Washington$106,050$143,500
National Average$82,850$112,150

Typical work environment

Many hours will be spent in labs and offices combing over data and analyzing samples and reports. They will spend time alongside others and can spend many hours seated or standing.

Fieldwork may potentially involve hard physical labor, long and extensive travel to potentially remote locations, and irregular working hours.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a geologist are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, typically in an office setting or in the field.  

Available certifications

In general, geologists will receive some level of formal education, however, there are standalone classes and courses that can bolster this or compensate for it, such as:

  • EdX Geology Course. This beginner-level course will introduce you to the various aspects of geology, gathered by the top universities and institutes worldwide. You’ll learn geological structures, processes, and resources, celestial systems, and environmental issues we face. You can specialize in a subcategory if desired, and by the end, you’ll have the knowledge and groundwork to learn more complicated areas.
  • Geology Coursera Certification. The multiple courses provided by Coursera will help reinforce your knowledge of oceanography, mountains, groundwater contamination, and the geological history of the planet. Additionally, the courses can be extremely useful for prepping for geology examinations for formal education.
  • Udemy Geology Certification. These courses can provide the entire scope of education from crash courses to highly specialized classes on advanced topics. You’ll find topics on physical psychology, sedimentology, survey methods, geochemistry, and much more.

Career path

The path to becoming a geologist typically starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in geosciences, engineering, geophysics, or a related field. Beyond that, employers prefer job applicants who obtain Professional Geologist licensure. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 19-2042

2020 Employment29,000
Projected Employment in 203031,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 7% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift2,000 increase

Geologists will be expected to make important recommendations on how to balance growing environmental concerns with the ever-increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth. The need for energy, environmental protection, and responsible land and resource management should spur demand for geoscientists.

Sample interview questions

  • What makes you want to become a geologist?
  • What would be your preferred method of discovering, collecting, and examining a sample?
  • How would you go about your typical workday as a geologist?
  • Has there been a situation in which you had to apply new technology or methodology to your work? What were some obstacles you had to overcome? What was the result?
  • Can you give me a description of the last project you worked on?
  • How do you stay motivated during very long, isolated hours of travel or work in remote locations?
  • What do you consider the best method for reading, studying, and interpreting reports to effectively compile information and data for geophysical prospecting?
  • How do you go about determining what data is relevant from multiple sources?
  • How do you plan, prioritize, and execute your work?
  • Walk me through how you typically prepare sketches, maps, cross-sections, and notes.

Geologist Jobs in Ashburn

    Loading RSS Feed

Need help hiring a Geologist?

We match top professionals with great employers across the country. Your next career move or star employee is just around the corner. Review our career content and advice, browse our latest job openings, or email us your resume. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

Browse A-Z Job Descriptions