Geoscientists
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Speciality
Overview
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Study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth. May use geological, physics, and mathematics knowledge in exploration for oil, gas, minerals, or underground water; or in waste disposal, land reclamation, or other environmental problems. May study the Earth's internal composition, atmospheres, and oceans, and its magnetic, electrical, and gravitational forces. Includes mineralogists, paleontologists, stratigraphers, geodesists, and seismologists.
Titles for this career often contain these words
GeologistEnvironmentalGeophysicalPaleontologistCoreFieldGeologicalLaboratoryProspectorGeophysicistProjectAnalysisOperatorAnalystCrystallographerDevelopmentEngineeringConsultantOfficeManagerProtectionExplorationGeochemistGeodesistScoutSpecialistGeomagnetistGeomorphologistDirectorSupervisorGeoscientistHydrogeologistInvertebrateMarineMicroMineMineralogistOceanologistPetrographerPetroleumPetrologistPetrophysicistResearchSedimentationistSeismologistSoilsEngineerStratigrapherVolcanologist
Education
About 51% of geoscientists and hydrologists have a graduate-level education, and 100% have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by geoscientists and hydrologists
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with graduate degrees
More geoscientists and hydrologists have graduate degrees than 92% of other careeers.
Employment
Workforce size
Geoscientists, with 31,000 workers, form a smaller workforce than 65% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for geoscientists are expected to grow by 6%, and should have about 3,600 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
The likelihood of automation for geoscientists is near the middle of all careers' likelihoods.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for geoscientists compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most geoscientists earn.
$92K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Gender
Women account for 25% of geoscientists and hydrologists -- that's a smaller percentage than 61% of other jobs.
Gender of geoscientists and hydrologists
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For geoscientists and hydrologists, the median men's salary was 10% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 10% of geoscientists and hydrologists are minority, and 12% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of geoscientists and hydrologists
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (12%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Geoscientists per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
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Benefits
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs?
Context: Employer offers health insurance
Context: Employer offers a pension plan
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of geoscientists who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (54%)
  • Consequence of Error (50%)
  • Time Pressure (37%)
SOURCES:
Salary and diversity
What do geoscientists and hydrologists earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries at the specialty level (geoscientists). This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for geoscientists (BLS Salary Data)
$92K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$92K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers. This view of salaries is only available for all geoscientists and hydrologists.
Distribution: Salaries for geoscientists and hydrologists (ACS Salary Data)
$73K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$73K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Environmental scientists, geoscientists, and Hydrologists: Inflation-adjusted salary trend
This job's median $70KAll jobs' median $45K$75K$44K070809101112131415161718$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire geoscientists.
Employers of Geoscientists and Hydrologists (ACS)
Private for-profit (57.5%)
Private not-for-profit (2.8%)
Local government (4.3%)
State government (19.0%)
Federal government (12.7%)
Self-employed incorporated (1.8%)
Self-employed not incorporated (1.9%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of geoscientists and hydrologists by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses. These salaries were reported for the larger career group of geoscientists and hydrologists, which combines the 2 specialties for this career.
$73K$77K$91K$54K$61K$64K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of geoscientists by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS. Remember that the BLS salaries are for the specialty geoscientists, and may differ signficantly from the ACS salary estimates which combine several career specialties.
$92K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000All

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for geoscientists and hydrologists

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$65K$53K$89K$74K$102K$89K$85K$37K$70K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
02K4K6K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Geoscientists and hydrologists and gender

With 25% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 61% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
25%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Geoscientists and hydrologists
Men (75%)
Women (25%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for geoscientists and hydrologists, with the median salary for men 10% higher than the median salary for women.

$68K$75K$0$50K$100K$150KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary for all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men. Geoscientists and hydrologists have one of the smaller inequity calculations, with the increase for men's median salary over women's median salary in this job lower than that for 70% of other jobs.

10%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of geoscientists and hydrologists

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a smaller percentage of minority geoscientists and hydrologists than for 94% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of geoscientists and hydrologists
White (89% )
Asian (5% )
Black (3% )
Multiracial (2% )
Other (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Hispanic (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
10%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
12%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for geoscientists and hydrologists by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$55K$64K$66K$70K$73K$76K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KAmerican IndianMultiracialBlackHispanicWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for geoscientists and hydrologists by nativity
$72K$93K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Geoscientists and hydrologists and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 7% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 67% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
7%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

We only have enough data to accuarately show the salary distribution for full-time workers.

$73K$0$50K$100K$150KFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by geoscientists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), geoscientists typically hold a bachelor's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as geoscientists and hydrologists as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for geoscientists

Geoscientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree for most entry-level positions. A geosciences degree is generally preferred by employers, although some geoscientists begin their careers with degrees in environmental science or engineering. Some geoscientist jobs require a master’s degree.

Most geoscience programs include geology courses in mineralogy, petrology, and structural geology, which are important for all geoscientists. In addition to classes in geology, most programs require students to take courses in other physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computer science.

Some programs include training on specific software packages that will be useful to those seeking a career as a geoscientist. In addition to classroom and lab courses, most degree programs also include summer geology field camp courses that provide students with practical experience before graduating.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for geoscientists

Geologists are licensed in 31 states. Although a license is not required to work as a geologist in many cases, geologists that offer services to the public in these states must be licensed. Public services include activities such as those associated with civil engineering projects, environmental protection, and regulatory compliance. Applicants must meet minimum education and experience requirements and earn a passing score on an exam. All states that license geologists use the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG), Fundamentals of Geology Exam (FGE).

Contact your state board of registration of geologists for more information.

Education attained by geoscientists and hydrologists
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for geoscientists and hydrologists? Below we see the distribution of geoscientists and hydrologists salaries based on the education attained.

$64K$85K$95K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KBachelor's Degree (49%)Master's Degree (41%)Doctorate (8%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

College majors held by geoscientists and hydrologists

This table shows the college majors held by people working as geoscientists and hydrologists.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Percentage of Geoscientists and hydrologists with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
The link between degrees and careers

With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as geoscientists and hydrologists, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.

Geoscientists and Hydrolo...Specialized ManagersEnvironmental Scientists ...Postsecondary TeachersElementary and Middle Sch...Specialized Physical Scie...Management AnalystsProject Management Specia...Chief executives and legi...Secondary School TeachersacsOcc_565Lawyers, and judges, magi...First-Line Supervisors of...PhysiciansDentistsRegistered NursesSpecialized Life Scientis...Medical and Clinical Labo...PharmacistsSoftware DevelopersFirst-Line Supervisors of...Chemists and materials sc...Biological ScientistsSurveyors, cartographers,...Conservation scientists a...Police OfficersSpecialized Computer Occu...Computer and Information ...Urban and Regional Planne...Wholesale and Manufacturi...Accountants and AuditorsFinancial ManagersLabor Relations Specialis...First-Line Supervisors of...Customer Service Represen...Specialized EngineersComputer ProgrammersAstronomers and physicist...Medical and Health Servic...Geology and Earth ScienceEnvironmental ScienceBiologyGeosciencesChemistryNatural ResourcesManagementGeographyBusiness Management andAdministrationPhysicsMultidisciplinary or GeneralScienceAll other degreesThis jobTop 10 majorsEach major's top ten jobs
What college major is your best entry?

Almost all of people working as geoscientists and hydrologists have at least a bachelor's degree. Each dot represents a college major leading to these jobs, with the dots to the right representing the majors sending the most of their grads into this career. The dots at the top are the majors who earn the most working in this career.

Darker colors have a larger percentage with graduate degreesOverall median salary0.0%5.0%10.0%15.0%20.0%25.0%30.0%35.0%40.0%Percentage with this major$30,000$40,000$50,000$60,000$70,000$80,000$90,000$100,000$110,000$120,000$130,000Median salary with this major
Switching Careers
The most common next careers for geoscientists and hydrologists

What jobs will most geoscientists and hydrologists hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of geoscientists and hydrologists reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Environmental scientists, geoscientists, and HydrologistsManagement AnalystsSpecialized Physical ScientistsSchool bus monitors and protective service workersEnvironmental EngineersSpecialized Life, Physical, and Social Science TechniciansAccountants and AuditorsWater and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System OperatorsSpecialized ManagersCivil EngineersBiological Scientists
Lateral job transitions for geoscientists and hydrologists

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 7 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as geoscientists and hydrologists as well as 1% of respondents after working as geoscientists and hydrologists. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Employed
How many people have this job?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
No degree
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Men
Women
Prior and next careers for geoscientists and hydrologists: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as geoscientists and hydrologists? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of geoscientists and hydrologists surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Employed
How many people have this job?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
No degree
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most geoscientists? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as geoscientists. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

One important factor in the differences between ACS and BLS data is that the ACS numbers are for all geoscientists and hydrologists, comprised of all specialities listed in the menu bar, and you can choose to view the BLS at the specialty or full career level.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Number of Geoscientists per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.51.01.5
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where geoscientists earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for geoscientists and hydrologists compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for geoscientists and hydrologists.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information. The ACS salaries are for all geoscientists and hydrologists, which combines the specialities from which you can choose at the top of the page.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Location-adjusted median salary for Geoscientists (BLS for this specialty)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which geoscientists earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
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$0$50K$100K$150K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

How should the career similarity be computed?

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?