Earth & Space Science
Geoscientists study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth. They study the Earth’s geologic past and present by using sophisticated instruments to analyze the composition of earth, rock, and water. Many geoscientists help to search for natural resources such as groundwater, metals, and petroleum. Others work closely with environmental and other scientists to preserve and clean up the environment
Geoscientists usually study and work in one of several closely related fields of geoscience. Geologists study the composition, processes, and history of the Earth. They try to find out how rocks were formed and what has happened to them since their formation. They also study the evolution of life by analyzing plant and animal fossils. Geophysicists use the principles of physics, mathematics, and chemistry to study the Earth’s surface, its internal composition, ground and surface waters, atmosphere, oceans, and magnetic, electrical, and gravitational forces.
Many geoscientists work in the petroleum and natural gas industry, an industry that also employs numerous other workers whose jobs deal with the scientific and technical aspects of the exploration and extraction of petroleum and natural gas. Among these other workers are engineering technicians; science technicians; petroleum engineers; and surveyors, cartographers, photogrammetrists, and surveying technicians. Also, some physicists and astronomers, chemists and materials scientists, atmospheric scientists, biological scientists, and environmental scientists and hydrologists perform related work both in the exploration and extraction of petroleum and natural gas and in activities having to do with the environment.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment of geoscientists is projected to grow by 21 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. This geoscience degree prepares students for entry-level positions in such occupations and is also a strong foundation for persons interested in pursuing advanced degrees.
Middle school teachers and secondary school teachers help students delve more deeply into subjects introduced in elementary school and expose them to more information about the world. Middle and secondary school teachers specialize in a specific subject, such as English, Spanish, mathematics, history, or biology. They also may teach subjects that are career oriented. Vocational education teachers, also referred to as career and technical or career-technology teachers, instruct and train students to work in a wide variety of fields, such as healthcare, business, auto repair, communications, and, increasingly, technology. They often teach courses that are in high demand by area employers, who may provide input into the curriculum and offer internships to students. Many vocational teachers play an active role in building and overseeing these partnerships. Additional responsibilities of middle and secondary school teachers may include career guidance and job placement, as well as follow-ups with students after graduation.
In addition to conducting classroom activities, teachers oversee study halls and homerooms, supervise extracurricular activities, and accompany students on field trips. They may identify students with physical or mental problems and refer the students to the proper authorities. Secondary school teachers occasionally assist students in choosing courses, colleges, and careers. Teachers also participate in education conferences and workshops.
Employment of preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers is projected to grow about as fast as average. Job prospects are expected to be favorable, with particularly good prospects for teachers in high-demand fields like math, science, and bilingual education, or in less desirable urban or rural school districts.
Geoscientists often begin their careers in field exploration or as research assistants or technicians in laboratories or offices. As they gain experience, they get more assignments that are difficult. Eventually, some are promoted to project leader, program manager, or to a senior research position. [And for said positions] A master’s degree is the preferred educational requirement for most [of these] entry-level research positions in private industry, Federal agencies, and State geological surveys. Geoscientists in research positions with the Federal Government or in colleges and universities frequently are required to design programs and write grant proposals in order to fund their research. Geoscientists in consulting jobs face similar pressures to market their skills and write proposals so that they will have steady work. However, those who choose to work in management will spend more time scheduling, budgeting, and reporting to top executives or clients.
Graduates with a master’s degree should have excellent opportunities, especially in the management, scientific and technical consulting industry and in the engineering services industries. In addition to demand resulting from job growth, replacing those who leave the occupation for retirement, managerial positions, or other careers will generate a number of jobs. With relatively few students earning master’s degrees in the geosciences, job openings may exceed the number of qualified job seekers over the 2006-16 projection decade. However, geoscientists with doctoral degrees, who primarily work as college and university faculty or do basic research, may face competition.
There will be fewer opportunities for geoscientists in Federal and State government, mostly because of budget constraints at key agencies, such as the USGS, and the trend among governments toward contracting out to consulting firms instead of hiring new government employees. However, departures of geoscientists who retire or leave the government for other reasons will result in some job openings over the next decade.