What Do You Need To Become A Geologist

Geologists sometimes study underground caverns and rock formations.

A geologist is a scientific professional who studies the composition of the Earth. The field includes the history of the Earth’s formation, the materials out of which the planet is made and the processes which it undergoes. A geologist may work under a broad umbrella, and geology has many specialized fields, each with their own educational and professional requisites. However, most professional geologists follow a generally similar course of study and training.

Preparing for College

If you are considering a career in geology, you will need strong math skills, analytic abilities, a solid foundation in the natural sciences and a clear command of written language, even in lower-level geology college courses. Many four-year geology programs are quite competitive and require rigorous academic achievement at the high school level. Geologists employ a wide variety of skills and knowledge in their research, labs and fieldwork, but math, writing and science are the three core areas of skills. It’s also a good idea to be thoroughly familiar with computers, as many geologists rely on computer systems to help them carry out their work and perform geophysical and geocartographical analysis.

Undergraduate Requirements

To become a professional geologist, you should pursue a rigorous four-year undergraduate program. You may choose to focus your study on a specialized field, such as paleontology or marine geology, or you may choose to double major in a secondary field such as archaeology or geography. The majority of your advanced study in geography will be in your last two years of college, which can lead into graduate studies. Many programs of study in the natural sciences, including geology, will require you to complete a senior thesis or special senior project before you graduate.

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Licensing

Many states require that in order to work as a geologist in the private sector, you must first get a license. The licensing process varies widely from state to state. In general, you must demonstrate competency in the field by providing proof of your education, documenting your practical experience in the field and taking a licensing exam.

Postgraduate and Continuing Education

While an undergraduate degree is enough to get your foot in the door at entry-level geology jobs, you may want to improve your marketability in the field by continuing your studies in geology past the undergraduate level. Many masters degree programs allow geologists to specialize in niche fields such as archaeology, hydrogeology, planetary geology, gem analysis and petroleum geology. If you want to work abroad, you may study a foreign language to increase your hiring prospects. Advanced degrees also may often mean a higher pay for entry-level positions as well as opportunities for more specialized jobs.