How Do I Become a Geologist?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Geologists may study the formation of volcanoes.
Geologists may study the formation of volcanoes.

The path to become a geologist can begin as early as high school, where you should focus on doing well in chemistry, physics, and mathematics courses. In higher education, these topics will be expanded upon, in addition to historical and physical geology, mineralogy, and other courses taught by the geology or science department. Geologists study the Earth and how history has affected it; they are scientists who use multiple sciences. There are many specialties to this field of science, such as the study of volcanoes or gravity and how the Earth’s magnetic pull works. Once you graduate with at least a bachelor's degree, the job market is often relatively good, but depends on your area of expertise.

Hands-on training is an important aspect of becoming a geologist.
Hands-on training is an important aspect of becoming a geologist.

When considering schools for your higher education goals, pay special attention to their science or geology departments. Not all schools are equal; some schools have better courses in one subject than another. In addition, while attending a prestigious and well-known school will look good on the resume, it is not necessary, and most other schools will be more affordable. During the summer, try to spend time on the field actively practicing your science. Many schools have a field camp where students can get hands-on experience during the school's off months.

A geologist may specialize in studying the Earth's magnetic pull.
A geologist may specialize in studying the Earth's magnetic pull.

It is common for a geologist to choose more than one area of specialty, but they are often related in some way. Employment can typically be found with just a bachelor’s degree in the field, but a lot of geologists continue their education to open more doors. On the other hand, to become a geologist who teaches in universities, an advanced degree in a specialized area is usually required. This is true for many types of sciences, but it is usually possible to get a lower-paying job in a middle or high school teaching science instead.

Geology is a large field that includes many disciplines, such as mineralogy.
Geology is a large field that includes many disciplines, such as mineralogy.

Lastly, to become a geologist, you must be comfortable working in the field primarily or at least sometimes. The study of rocks, lava, and underground water is generally not a job you can do well without getting a little dirty. To become a geologist, it also helps to have a passion for Earth sciences and the history of the planet. Some people say the Earth has a story that is billions of years old, and geologists are the people who help tell it. They do more than name rocks, though; becoming a geologist can lead to helping people find better ways to grow food and fish, preventing people from harvesting resources the Earth needs, and much more.

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    • Geologists may study the formation of volcanoes.
      Geologists may study the formation of volcanoes.
    • Hands-on training is an important aspect of becoming a geologist.
      Hands-on training is an important aspect of becoming a geologist.
    • A geologist may specialize in studying the Earth's magnetic pull.
      A geologist may specialize in studying the Earth's magnetic pull.
    • Geology is a large field that includes many disciplines, such as mineralogy.
      Geology is a large field that includes many disciplines, such as mineralogy.
    • Geologists must be comfortable working in the field, at least part of the time.
      Geologists must be comfortable working in the field, at least part of the time.