Geologist Careers

How to become a Geologist

What does a Geologist do?

Geologists study the structure and composition of rocks and minerals by analysing samples and conducting surveys. Their findings are used to assess the commercial potential, viability and impact of operations such as drilling and construction, and to compile data on the probability of hazards such as subsidence or earthquakes. Methods used include drilling, seismic surveying, satellite and aerial imagery, and electromagnetic measurement.

The information geologists gather has applications in a number of industries, including:

  • the petrochemical industry
  • mining and quarrying
  • the water industry
  • civil engineering
  • environmental protection.

What's the working environment like working as a Geologist?

The hours a geologist works will depend on the type of geological work being undertaken. Some projects may mean normal office hours are worked, with occasional evening or weekend work to meet deadlines.

Where the work includes direct involvement in exploration, surveying and production, a geologist may have to work very long hours, possibly in very demanding conditions and in remote locations. A mining geologist will often work underground in wet and dirty conditions.

Work is conducted both in laboratories and offices, and outside, on land or at sea. Periods away from home are common, and can involve foreign travel. Protective clothing and safety equipment is necessary for certain activities.

What does it take to become a Geologist?

To be a geologist, you should:

  • have good scientific and technical skills
  • be accurate and attentive to detail, with good observational skills
  • have a methodical approach to problem solving
  • have strong oral and written communication skills
  • have good practical skills for using instruments and technical equipment
  • be able to work and live with others
  • be physically fit with normal colour vision
  • be able to take responsibility for making decisions
  • be aware of health and safety issues
  • be able to interpret statistical and graphical information
  • be willing to travel and stay away from home for long periods.

Geologist Career Opportunities

There are opportunities for employment in all of the industry sectors previously listed in the work section. Geologists can also work in education. The largest single employer of geologists in the UK is the British Geological Survey, which is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Promotion prospects depend on the type and size of the organisation with which you are employed. Larger ones have career structures with promotion depending on annual reviews; organisations which employ small numbers of geologists will have limited opportunities, and promotion is often achieved through moving employer.

Many geologists set up as consultants, or to move into other sectors such as teaching and management.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Geologist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The Geological Society
Burlington House
Tel: 020 7434 9944

British Geological Survey
Kingsley Dunham Centre
NG12 5GG
Tel: 0115 936 3100

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Polaris House
North Star Avenue
Tel: 01793 411500

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