An environmental geologist is one of the many career paths that a student of environmental science may choose to pursue. Environmental geology combines the core foundation of environmental science and places particular emphasis on the study of geology and applying it to real-world situations. The ideal student of environmental geology is one who has not just a profound interest in the environment and its relation with the wildlife and humans on it, but also the fossil fuels, minerals, nonrenewable resources and the Earth's curst.
An environmental geologist will spend the majority of their career serving as a consultant, helping to prevent the contamination of soil and groundwater by calculating the proper location for new landfills and planning for waste disposal underground.
An environmental geologist is responsible for making sure water supplies and soil that grows food stay as clean as possible and uncontaminated without impacting or limiting accessibility to any animals or organisms that depend on them for their ecosystem.
What Does an Environmental Geologist Do?
Researching a career and truly understanding its inner workings can save you a lot of time and disappointment in the future. Many students fixate on a broad concept rather than reality and find themselves disillusioned during their studies and are left confused as to what course of action to take. If you want to become an environmental geologist, take a look at some of the tasks commonly performed on the job and decide if you could see yourself doing them in the future.
The majority of environmental geologists work in the consulting industry. They assist the government and private organizations on safe locations and practices in regards to waste reduction and harvesting. Although they serve as consultants, the job of an environmental geologist is very hands-on and centers around field research. Some of the things an environmental geologist will do at work are:
- Collect data on-site via soil samples, assess of rock structure and groundwater flows
- Use GIS (geographic information systems) to create geologic maps, charts, graphs and more
- Present data in a concise and effective manner
- Analyze findings, geologic literature, field surveys and more to draw conclusions about potential hazards and current geological conditions
Knowledge and field experience come together in the form of a refined expertise that an environmental geologist uses to analyze and interpret their findings and compile the results into reports that they then present to clients.
What Salary Should an Environmental Geologist Expect?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report on the annual median income for environmental geologists specifically, however the latest report from 2012 stated that the average salary for a geoscientist was $90,890. Federal government employees earned slightly more at $94,830 while those employed in oil and gas extraction were the highest-earning geoscientists with a median annual salary of $137,750.
Environmental Geologist Degrees
A bachelor's of environmental science, geology or a related field is the requirement for entry-level jobs in environmental geology. Master's degrees will pave the way for career advancement and in some states, a license is required.
There are several degree programs in the United States that offer both undergraduate and master's degree options to students. Most environmental geologists earn their bachelor's in environmental science and go on to receive their Master of Science in Geological Sciences or another similar discipline.
There are dozens of schools that offer an environmental science degree, so researching universities near you that are in your price range or even online is the first step. Some noteworthy geology programs in the United States include Stanford University, Massachusetts's Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.
Each of these schools offers student's the possibility to earn an associate's, bachelor's and master's degree in geological sciences. The program's coursework is rooted within the fundamentals of earth science, with students learning how the Earth work's from inside out through a variety of interesting courses and immersive research. An environmental geologist's foundation must be built upon a solid understanding of the Earth's materials, composition, evolution and its various pr
Geology programs require a heavy amount of field research, which will help students develop the quantities and analytical skills they'll need to assess and interpret data that they collect though various research methods and scientific procedures. Courses in chemistry, biology and mathematics instill the logic-based problem-solving abilities that a geologist needs to deduct summaries from experiments they perform and materials they gather.
Upper-level students will expand upon their knowledge through more intensive field work, research and writing programs that will shape ad strengthen their communicative abilities in order to further enable them to succeed in the future as environmental geologists.