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Major to Career: Geosciences

On this page you will find information about careers pursued by Geosciences majors, skills Geosciences majors develop and career-related Web sites relevant to the major. Visit the department page to learn more about the Geosciences program.


It is important to remember that your major does not determine what your career will be. With a liberal arts education, YOU, not your major, will determine your career path.

The jobs that are traditionally available for those who graduate with a degree in Earth Sciences fall into the following major categories:

  • energy industry ((Petroleum, coal, geothermal)
  • environmental industry (consulting, remediation, preservation, restoration)
  • construction industry (geotechnical consulting, civil engineering geology)
  • mining (ore metals, aggregate, mineral resources)
  • education (high school earth science, college/universities, museums)
  • government (state and federal geological surveys, policy consulting)

Example job titles of Dickinson alumni who majored in Geosciences include:

  • Assistant Staff Geologist
  • Climate Modeling
  • Coastal Hazards Management
  • Data Management
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Environmental Law
  • Forensic Investigation
  • Geographic Information Systems
    (GIS) Technician
  • Hydrogeology
  • Hydrology
  • Natural Hazards Response
  • Oceanography
  • Paleontology
  • Parks & Recreation Management
  • Science Journalism
  • Tour Guide
  • Urban Planning
  • Water Resource Manag

Related tracks to careers:

  • Geoscience Track – Typically the Geoscience track is for those going to graduate school or right into a geotechnical career in the construction industry. 
  • Environmental Geoscience Track – The Environmental Geoscience track is often for those going right into the environmental consulting industry. 

The best way to find a job in the Geociences is through professional networking.

Networking can be done through our alumni base ( as well as through professional organizations. Professional geoscience organizations that provide networking opportunities range from the local (e.g., Harrisburg Area Geological Society) to the state (e.g., Field Conference of Pennsylvania Geologists) to the regional (e.g., Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America) to the national (e.g., level.

So join one or more of these organizations.  They have very reasonable student membership rates.  Attend their meetings which vary by organization from monthly to annually.  Volunteer to help out and participate in their field trips.  You will learn a lot and potentially meet a future employer or at least get a good letter of recommendation from someone outside of Dickinson.


  • Field Work: Some Earth Science majors spend a substantial amount of time outdoors, sometimes in extreme weather conditions, in order to make precise observations and measurements.
  • Lab and computer work: Some Earth Science majors spend a substantial amount of time in the lab analyzing samples or building computer models of the real world.
  • Objectivity: Earth Science majors must test their hypotheses so that the results are accurate rather than reflections of their own ideas.


The Ph.D. degree is considered an academic degree and is more geared for college teaching.  A few people in the upper levels of industry have them, but most have a B.S. or M.S. degree.  The more advanced degree you have, generally, the farther you will get promoted as with any career, but that becomes less important with more professional experience.  The entry level degree for the environmental and geotechnical industries is typically a B.S. degree.  Most larger firms want a M.S. degree.  Some of our graduates who go directly into the environmental and geotechnical industries after receiving their B.S. degree, later go back (sometimes paid by their employer) for the M.S. to further their professional advancement.  The entry level degree for the energy industry is typically a M.S. degree.  Some of our alums work for the larger energy companies with Ph.D. degrees and work in more the research end of the business, less in exploration and production.


More and more states, including Pennsylvania, require geologists to be licensed like doctors, lawyers, electricians, and plumbers before they can legally work as a professional geologist. Requirements vary by state ( PA requires five years of professional experience before you can take the National Association of State Boards of Geology exams ( Once you are a certified professional geologist, there are certain forms you are legally allowed to sign off on. Having the certification typically increases your salary as you employer can charge more for your services. Both Structural Geology and Field Geology are required in PA to sit for the exams. Take this into consideration when choosing your courses.