Career for someone with a background in earth sciences?
July 9, 2011 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Looking for advice on possible careers post-grad school with earth sciences training.

In one year I will graduate with an M.S. in the earth sciences having conducted research in field glaciology and having gotten a bachelor's in geology from a top-tier liberal arts college. I have to consider whether or not to apply to a Ph.D. program within the next couple of months. I am looking for advice on possible alternative careers outside of academia that would be open to a person with my background. I would like a career that is useful/meaningful and challenging (though not "intense") and ideally is not too volatile. Salary potential is of minimal importance.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just to get the obvious out of the way, working for USGS and other Dept. of the Interior agencies leaps to mind. Also, NOAA. I have an acquaintance with a master's in civil engineering who has worked for both. Currently, she monitors and predicts water levels throughout a wide region.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:36 PM on July 9, 2011

Hm, since you've had no other suggestions, I guess it's worth mentioning that oil and oil services companies hire tons of geologists, though you might need to do a good bit of coursework in that this year to be a plausible candidate.

I promise they don't sit around cackling about raping the earth. For the foreseeable future, it's a career that's pretty much essential to human civilization.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:00 PM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Check out the job listings here and of course, at USAjobs. They list degree requirements. As you can see generally the kinds of degrees is rather open, except for specialized/research positions.

I don't have much experience in this area, but it seems like general environmental science/consulting type jobs and government positions look more for translatable experience and knowledge of relevant regulations than they do degrees. Though having done research is a pretty solid and translatable skill.
posted by everyday_naturalist at 3:51 AM on July 10, 2011

Yes, oil and oil services companies are always in need of geologists! There is a lot of exciting science and heavy technical work that goes on in finding oil and gas. And along the way, you pick up a lot of geological knowledge and transferable skills that can be applied to something like, carbon capture storage or shale gas production. At the very least, you're providing essential services to the human society and keeping the costs of energy/ living low (which I realize is a "bad" idea in the US, with the gas-guzzling cars and wasteful commuter-unfriendly suburbs that do not encourage efficient energy use, but is beneficial and productive in all other parts of the world).
posted by moiraine at 4:59 PM on July 10, 2011

Oh yes, and I forgot to mention, MeMail me if you have any questions about working in the oil industry. It's a lot of fun, I promise: there's cool geological sleuthing to be done, and you get to learn about operations and business on the side.
posted by moiraine at 1:42 AM on July 11, 2011

Ok, one last addendum, I promise! If it matters, I did my undergraduate degree in a very elite liberal arts college in New England (think of a school whose first letter makes up a certain three letter acronym :) ), so working in the oil industry is not something for "just" Southerners or state/ tech schools looking for an operational job, but also for people who are interested in pursuing an exciting scientific career and widening the knowledge and scope of humankind in wonderful, practical ways!
posted by moiraine at 4:23 PM on July 12, 2011

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