If you are considering a career in Geology, here is a simple guide to help you!
The job of a Geologist is to study the composition, structure, and history of the earth’s crust for many purposes which include locating and exploring natural and energy resources. He does this by conducting field studies, collecting samples and information which are later tested and analyzed in the laboratory using equipment such as seismographs, gravimeters, torsion balances, and magnetometers. A Geologist assesses ground and surface water movement in order to provide advice on issues such as waste management, route and site selection, and restoration of contaminated sites. He also identifies risks for natural disasters such as mudslides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, and provides advice on ways this potential damage can be mitigated.
A Geologist who works in a construction industry assesses the suitability of construction materials before they are used as concrete aggregates, road fill, etc. While a Petroleum Geologist builds geological models for reservoirs or oil fields. He works closely with other technical departments to find and extract oil and gas from existing fields as well as searching for potential new targets.
In a nutshell, if you become a geologist, your role will be to identify and deal with geological factors affecting engineering work.
Entry into this career without a degree is not possible. For an entry-level position as a geologist, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in Geology, Geosciences, Geophysics, or any related field. Some programmes require that you choose an area of specialization such as Geological Engineering, Sedimentology, Hydrogeology, Palaeontology, etc.
In addition to the basic educational requirement, you need skills such as the ability to use computer software for data analysis, sharp eye for details to detect changes in circumstances or events, ability to evaluate results, ability to identify problems and proffer solutions, communication skills, time management, good judgment and decision-making, quality control analysis, negotiation skill, amongst others. Some of these skills you can learn on the job as a Trainee, while others can be acquired through 3rd party training.
Training and Certification
As you start off this career, your training will be a combination of on-the-job and short training courses which may be sponsored by an employer (mostly big setups). These training programmes could be in areas such as risk management, project management, health, and safety, etc. This will provide opportunities for professional development. Asides training provided by your employer, you can also take up short courses to acquire more skills and keep your knowledge up to date.
Here are some institutions offering courses and training for Geologists:
It is also important to obtain a chartered status (becoming a Fellow of the Geological Society) after attaining a certain level of professional development and relevant experience.
Working Conditions and Salary
A geologist can work in the oil and gas industry, engineering or for the government. At the early stage of the career, the work is mainly on site with some laboratory and office work. Since the job is an outdoor type you will be required to travel a lot to conduct field research and work with various pieces of equipment on unfamiliar ground as well as spend long periods away from home depending on the site location. Work schedule could span into the weekends but longer working hours are more common within the private sector.
The salary varies depending on the employer, qualifications and years of experience. An entry-level geologist earns an average of $92,000 annually while those with higher degrees earn over a $100,000 annually.
To grow in this field, you will need to acquire advanced degrees in addition to the years of field and laboratory experience garnered over time. This is the only guaranteed way to grow in the profession. A geologist’s career grows from the technical work to managerial responsibilities. Gaining chartered status can improve your chances of achieving senior posts in project management and leading a team. E.g. Senior Geologist, Team Leader, Manager or Technical Specialist.
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