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Geophysicists apply the principles and concepts of physics, mathematics, geology, and engineering to the study of the physical characteristics of the earth and other planets. As a geophysicist, you would measure gravity and magnetic fields, seismic waves, temperatures, and natural electric current.

Representative Job Titles and Areas of Specialization

Atmospheric Scientists Limnologist
Engineering Geophysicist Meteorologist
Exploration Geophysicist Oceanographer
Geodesist Paleomagnetician
Geomagnetician Planetologist
Geophysicist Professor/Instructor/Lecturer
Geothermal Specialist Rock Mechanics Specialist
Hydrologist Seismologist
Laboratory Technician/Assistant Solar-Planetary Relationships

Nature of the Work


Geophysicists typically specialize in one of three general areas: Solid Earth; Fluid Earth and Upper Atmosphere. Here are some examples of their work:
  • Geophysicists, who specialize in solid earth, search for oil and mineral deposits, as well as water and energy resources. They also are concerned with earthquakes and the internal structure and development of the earth.
  • Seismologists study the earth's interior and its vibrations caused by earthquakes and man-made explosions.
  • Geodesists study the size, shape, and gravitational field of the earth and other planets. Their main tasks are mapping the earth's surface and explaining the variations found.
  • Hydrologists study the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters. They also study rainfall and how quickly is absorbs into the soil. Some are concerned with water supplies, irrigation, flood control, and soil erosion.
  • Geophysicists specializing in the upper atmosphere investigate the earth's magnetic and electric fields, and compare its outer atmosphere with those of other planets.
  • Geomagneticians study the earth's magnetic field while Paleomagneticians learn about the earlier magnetic fields from rocks or lava flows.
  • Planetologists study the composition and atmospheres of the moon, planets, and other bodies in the solar system.

Places of Employment

Construction and engineering companies Soil conservation service
Exploration and consulting firms Geological surveys
Federal agencies including: Construction companies
- Army Corps of Engineers Mining and quarrying companies
- Army, Navy, Air Force Non-profit research institutes
- Bureau of Mines Petroleum and natural gas companies
- Defense Mapping Agency Public utilities
- Department of Energy State departments of water resources,
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration conservation, transportation, energy
- National oceanic and atmospheric agencies State geological surveys
Universities, colleges  


Some entry-level positions in Geophysics may be obtained with a bachelor's degree. Your job prospects are greater if you have a strong background in computer science.

Some entry-level Geophysics jobs 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