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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 Area of Specialization
  • Curator-Natural History Museum
  • Economic Geologist
  • Engineering Geologist
  • Environmental Geologist
  • Environmental Impact Report Writer
  • Exploration Geologist
  • Field Geologist
  • Geochemist
  • Geochronologist
  • Geological Consultant
  • Geothermal Energy Specialist
  • Ground Water Geologist
  • Hydrologist/Hydrogeologist
  • Instructor/Lecturer/Professor
  • Laboratory Assistant/Technician
  • Marine Geologist
  • Mineralogist
  • Mining Geologist
  • Naturalist
  • Paleontologist
  • Park Ranger
  • Petroleum Geologist
  • Petrologist
  • Planetary Geologist
  • Planner
  • Research
  • Assistant/Technician
  • Stratigrapher
  • Structural Geologist
  • Technical Writer/Editor
  • Vertebrate Paleontologist
  • 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
  • Cement, chemical and ceramic companies
  • Colleges and universities
  • Construction and engineering firms
  • Federal agencies including:
    • Army Corps of Engineers
    • Bureau of Land Management
    • Bureau of Mines
    • Bureau of Reclamation
    • Department of Energy
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Forest Service
    • Geological Survey
    • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    • National Laboratories
    • Water quality/resource boards
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    • National Park Service
  • Soil conservation service
  • Geological and geophysical consulting firms
  • Highway departments
  • Independent environmental assessment firms
  • Independent oil operators
  • Mining and quarrying companies
  • Museums
  • Non-profit research institutions
  • Oceanographic institutes
  • Petroleum producers
  • Planning departments
  • State geological surveys
  • 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.


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