Geology/Earth Science, General
About the Geology/Earth Science Major
There is so much more to geology and earth science than just rocks. As a geologist, you will study the earth's composition, minerals, resources, natural processes, and its history, and use that knowledge to unlock its secrets. If you love solving a good mystery, enjoy the outdoors, and want to help man use the earth's vast resources more wisely, a career in geology might be a good choice for you.
So, what does a high school student have to do to prepare for a geology/earth science major? You will need excellent math, science, communication, and English skills. Therefore, it would be a good idea to take courses in areas such as algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, physics, chemistry, biology, and English. You should also consider joining the American Geoscience Institute. The AGI offers scholarships, internships, a job board, and professional development resources for aspiring geologists.
Before you arrive at college, you should think about what your level of study will be. Although a bachelor's degree in geology/earth science will ensure that you will indeed have work opportunities after graduation, an advanced degree will give you the opportunity to work in research positions or teach at a college. If you chose to pursue an advanced degree, you will need to choose from one the many specialties in geology, such as volcanology, oceanography, seismology, paleontology, mineralogy, and hydrology, among others.
Once your undergraduate studies begin, you will discover that the geology/earth science major is not a traditional college major. A geologist lives in three worlds: in the classroom, in the lab, and out in the field. As a student, you will spend time in the classroom studying petrology, geology, mineralogy, and many other topics. You will spend time in the lab using spectrophotometers, magnetometers, and other tools to analyze the specimens you gathered and analytical/scientific software to record the results from the data you gathered. You may also use computer-aided design, map creation, graphics/photo imaging, or database/query as part of your work. And finally, you will participate in field trips where you will extract real samples for further analysis in the lab.
Geology/earth science majors often have the opportunity to go participate in conference trips, summer camps, or student/faculty research internships. Most employers prefer applicants who have lab and field experience prior to graduation, so students should take advantage of as many of these opportunities as possible. Before graduation, students should check the requirements for employment in the state where they wish to work as some states require licensing.