Careers in Earth Science

Career prospects in Geology, Earth Science and Environmental Science are very good, both in related fields (reaching far beyond the typical ‘oil and gas’ remit) and in alternative roles as graduates are considered highly skilled and have a wide range of transferable skills. If you are interested in studying Earth and Environmental Science, check out the University of St Andrews webpages for more about what studying it as a subject is like.

So after getting a university degree, what sorts of careers do Earth scientists have?

The career opportunities open to those that study Earth science cover a wide range of areas. Careers in energy and natural resources, environmental management and protection, engineering or academic research and teaching are just a few of the many options. Jobs could be in large companies within the oil and gas, renewable energy and mining sectors or within large government agencies and organisations. If that’s not for you you could find yourself working in a small firms that specifically focuses on geological or environmental issues related to energy, construction, pollution and contamination, within water resources and quality, or natural hazards. Opportunities depend on the state of the economy and fluctuations in the price of resources, however this change is a certainty for people embarking on any career. Now – and in the future – Earth scientists may work in many different areas during their careers and you can expect your role and job title to change also.

Travel is a large part of being an Earth scientist. This is particularly true when you work in industry or academia. The chances to work abroad may present themselves early in a career path. This early career opportunity to travel works well when you are in your twenties and early thirties, before family commitments and kids start to influence your choices about where you live and work. Large companies have offices all around the world, but even smaller companies will provide travel opportunities to do field work or site visits in far off places.

Where are they now?

Here are some case studies, you can also visit YouTube Channel – Careers Playlist to see some video examples of various Earth scientists from around the world. From those studying ancient climate and modern climate predictions to those that explore for precious minerals or the next potential oil or water source! You name it, these guys do it!

The Geological Society also offers a series of webpages exploring Earth Science careers pathways, which you can check out here.

Katherine Welbourn – BSc Environmental Geoscience (2011), University of St Andrews

“I joined the BP Graduate scheme when I completed my degree at St Andrews. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first 2 years at BP, working as a Geoscientist in the Angola business unit. I was involved in the design and delivery of wells across different fields in the region, and this included several trips to the rigs offshore Angola to work with operations geologist to successfully drill and complete new wells. My current role in Reservoir Management includes seismic data analysis to characterise the reservoir, and creation of 3D models of the geology. My Environmental Geoscience degree provided me with an invaluable technical grounding that has helped me as a geologist in the oil and gas industry.”

 Stefan Froud – BSc Geology (2010), University of St Andrews

“I am a geologist working for Wintershall Noodzee in the Netherlands, Germany’s largest oil and gas company. I have had stints working in Germany, Russia and Norway already. So far I have been exposed to a variety of projects, exploring Brazil’s sedimentary basins to small-scale exploration on Devonian carbonates in the Volgograd area of Russia. When I completed my degree at St Andrews, I did a 1-year MSc in Petroleum Geoscience at Imperial and was sponsored and fully funded by Conoco Phillips.  I had two 5-month internships with Nexen and Conoco Phillips before I joined Wintershall and these gave me enormous insights into the oil and gas industry, and confirmed my career choice in this sector.”

 Emma Sheard – BSc in Geosciences (2007), University of St Andrews

“After leaving St Andrews, I completed a 1-year MSc in Economic Geology at McGill University in Canada and have been working in the mineral exploration industry in Canada, Africa and Europe since then. I am part of a small team within Aurum Exploration Serices and we are repsonsible for iron ore deposits in Ghana, phosphate deposits in the Republic of Congo, and lithium deposits in Ireland. My interest in mining started during my undergraduate degree at St Andrews when we studied the Zambian Copper Belt – I thought it was a fascinating area of geology that I really excelled in.”