Stephen F. Austin State University

Career Opportunities

As in any profession, the best jobs in the geosciences go to the best qualified applicants, and the employment outlook varies with the economic climate of the country. However, according to the National Academy of Sciences, "there is no question that employment opportunities in the Earth sciences are growing." The petroleum industry is rebounding from its decline in the mid-80s and early 90s and is now hiring more geologists. Again, quoting the National Academy of Sciences, "Employment projections indicate a sixfold increase in many geoscience areas during the remainder of the century for Superfund hazardous waste sites alone." There also is a national crisis in science education; the need for qualified Earth science teachers in the secondary schools is critical. These trends continue as we begin the 21st century. The major employment fields for geoscientists are:

Petroleum Geology: exploration and production of oil and natural gas. Involves specialists in geophysics, geochemistry, stratigraphy and structural geology.

Environmental Geology: solving problems with pollution, waste disposal and urban development including geologic factors that effect engineering structures, and hazards such as flooding and erosion. Involves specialists in geophysics, geochemistry, sedimentology, geomorphology, volcanology, engineering geology, and hydrology.

Economic Geology: exploration for and development of geologic materials, especially metals, that have profitable uses. Involves specialists in geophysics, geochemistry, mineralogy, petrology, and structural geology.

Salary scales vary from employer to employer depending on the career path, location, qualifications of the geologist, and the economy. In the early 2000s, the range of starting salaries for graduates with bachelor's degrees was $40,000 - $65,000. Starting salaries for master's degrees ranged from $50,000 - $70,000.

For more information, contact the Department of Geology at or 936.468.3701.