University of California, RiversideUCR



Geologists study the structure, composition and history of the earth, especially the crust. As a geologist, you might examine rocks and minerals to identify the natural processes affecting the earth and explore for resources such as gas and oil deposits. You also might study fossil remains of plants and animals or examine the effects of wind, water, earthquakes or volcanoes on landforms.

Representative Job Titles and Areas of Specialization

Curator-Natural History Museum Marine Geologist
Economic Geologist Mineralogist
Engineering Geologist Mining Geologist
Environmental Geologist Naturalist
Environmental Impact Report Writer Paleontologist
Exploration Geologist Park Ranger
Field Geologist Petroleum Geologist
Geochemist Petrologist
Geochronologist Planetary Geologist
Geological Consultant Planner
Geologist Research Assistant/Technician
Geothermal Energy Specialist Stratigrapher
Ground Water Geologist Structural Geologist
Hydrologist/Hydrogeologist Technical Writer/Editor
Instructor/Lecturer/Professor Vertebrate Paleontologist
Laboratory Assistant/Technician Volcanologist

Nature of the Work


Geologists typically specialize in one of three general areas:
  • Economic geologists locate earth materials such as minerals and solid fuels.
  • Petroleum geologists attempt to locate oil and natural gas deposits below the earth's surface.
  • Engineering geologists evaluate sites for construction of buildings, highways, airports, tunnels, dams and other structures. They also study the flow of groundwater and pollution effects.
Most geologists divide their time among field work, where they collect samples or measure strata, laboratory work, where they analyze samples and data or conduct experiments, and the office where they write reports or draft maps and diagrams showing the results of their studies.


Places of Employment

Engineering firms National oceanic and atmospheric agencies
Cement, chemical and ceramic companies Administration
Colleges and universities National Park Service
Construction and engineering firms Soil conservation service
Federal agencies including: Geological and geophysical consulting firms
Army Corps of Engineers Highway departments
Bureau of Land Management Independent environmental assessment firms
Bureau of Mines Independent oil operators
Bureau of Reclamation Mining and quarrying companies
Department of Energy Museums
Environmental Protection Agency Non-profit research institutions
Forest Service Oceanographic institutes
Geological Survey Petroleum producers
National Aeronautics and Space Administration Planning departments
National Laboratories State geological surveys
Water quality/resource boards Utility companies


Some entry-level geology careers only require a bachelor's degree. Better jobs with opportunities for advancement usually require a master's degree. If you want to be a research geologist, then you should pursue a Ph.D.

For further information and/or career counseling contact the UCR Career Center, (951) 827-3631.

Supplemental Material

The following documents may provide further ideas for exploration.

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Career Center
Career Center Plaza

Tel: (951) 827-3631
Fax: (951) 827-2447
Student Questions: careercounseling@ucr.edu
Employer Questions: careerrecruiting@ucr.edu