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Careers in the Geosciences

by Sureworks.info (17 February 2016)

Besides the health sciences, geosciences is another area of science worth pursuing. With job options in several industries spread across the globe, the opportunities for career advancement are vast.

‘Geo-‘ means Earth, thus geosciences or earth science is a term addressing all studies of the Earth’s composition, forces, and its evolution. Geoscientists are concerned with the changes of the Earth and other systems in the universe and how these affect life on Earth.

Geoscience comprises geology, geophysics, space science, atmospheric science, and oceanography.  Geologists study the Earth’s history and its physical nature whereas geophysicists study its internal structure dynamics such as its density, elasticity, magnetisation, and electrical conductivity. Space scientists on the other hand, study the planetary system while atmospheric science is a study of the interaction of the atmosphere and its processes. Oceanographers focus on studies of the ocean, such as its marine ecosystems and the properties of currents, waves, and tides.

The five major disciplines can be broken down into several other specialisations which you can later pursue in your career.

What knowledge or skills do I need?

Subjects such as Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computing are recommended as these subjects will assist you in your understanding, especially once you have decided on a specialisation of your interest. It will also be helpful to take additional subjects outside of science such as statistics and business to solidify your foundation. You may choose to pursue the managerial aspect of geoscience instead, so having an added knowledge in business will be advantageous.

Analytical skills will prove valuable in a career in one of the geosciences, especially when it comes to solving problems. Most of the concerns in the geosciences involve tackling issues related to changes in the Earth systems and devising solutions and adaptations that have to be taken to ensure our survival on Earth. Much of the research and development in the geosciences rely on technology, which is why knowledge in mathematics, statistics, and computers would be useful in using computers for data collection and interpretation.

Good writing skills will also be required as you will need to write comprehensible reports of findings and analyses, and if you become a professional researcher, you may find yourself writing for a journal on geosciences. It is also necessary to have good oral skills as you will have to present your ideas to other scientists in the field. In addition, you should also be able to work in a team as you will gather and combine findings from fellow scientists to make sense of an issue.

As your career advances beyond field and laboratory, you may need to communicate with clients, stakeholders, investors, or even politicians. Any research and development in the sciences will require funding from investors so it is vital that you are able to draw attention to the importance of development on your research.

How much education is needed?

A Master’s degree is usually essential for major professional entry-level positions. If you are considering a professional career in the geosciences, it is recommended to get an advanced degree, especially a PhD if you plan to teach or be involved in higher-level research.

Seek further advice and information on geosciences and its prospects by speaking to counsellors with knowledge of the field, or professional geoscientists or geoscience lecturers if possible. More effectively, join a geoscience class or club and embark on a field trip to have a first-hand experience of what geoscience is all about.

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