Types of Careers

Types of CareersGeoscientists typically work in one or more of several closely related fields, including geology, geophysics, and hydrology.  Reflecting the complexity of the natural world in which they work, most modern geoscientists possess interdisciplinary skills and often work in teams with other geoscientists whose expertise complements their own.

  • Geologists study the composition, physical materials, and history of the Earth, usually with the goal of understanding the nature of processes that have formed the geologic record.
  • Mineralogists analyze and classify minerals and minerals systems according to their composition, genesis, and structure, usually with the goal of understanding the nature of formation and/or to locate new mineral resources.
  • Paleontologists study fossils to trace the evolution of plant and animal life and to decipher the geologic history of the Earth.
  • Stratigraphers examine the formation and layering of stratified rocks in order to understand the environment in which they formed and the clues such rocks hold regarding Earth-surface processes of the past.
  • Sedimentologists study the nature, origin, and distribution of sediments, such as gravel, sand, silt, and mud, and usually apply such knowledge to further understanding of the processes involved in sediment accumulation and/or genesis of economically important deposits contained therein.
  • Geophysicists, a group that includes geodesists, seismologists, geomagnetisists, use mathematics and principles of physics to study Earth motions, gravitational field, earthquake-related phenomena, and both recent and ancient magnetic information to better understand geodynamic processes and improve models of Earth’s interior.
  • Geochemists study the nature and distribution of chemical elements in groundwater and Earth materials, usually with the goal of better comprehending the type of processes responsible for developing the compositional characteristics.
  • Volcanologists investigate volcanoes and volcanic phenomena to better predict the potential for future eruptions and the nature of volcanic-related hazards to human health and welfare.
  • Glacial geologists study the physical properties and movement of glaciers and ice sheets, sometimes using such information to contribute to contemporary discussions of future climate change.
  • Hydrogeologists study the quantity, composition, distribution, circulation, and physical properties of both surface water and groundwater, and often play an important role in decisions involving both resource-management and land-use.
  • Engineering geologists apply geologic principles to the fields of civil and environmental engineering, using their knowledge to provide advice on major construction projects, environmental remediation, resource management, and natural-hazard reduction.
  • Oceanographers study Earth’s oceans and coastal waters to provide important evidence bearing on coastal process, undersea geology, biological evolution, broad-scale oceanic circulation patterns, and climate change.