hat work is involved?

  As a geologist or geoscientist, you would study the structure, evolution and dynamics of the planet Earth and its natural mineral and energy resources. You would investigate the processes that have shaped the Earth through its 4.54 billion year history in order to unravel that history and reveal its direct relevance to modern society. By mapping the distribution of rocks exposed at the Earth's surface, looking at how they are folded, fractured and altered by geological processes and determining their ages and field relations, you could produce the geological maps and databases which are the basic tools underpinning the use of all geological resources. You might analyse how energy resources such as oil and gas, coal and uranium are formed and where they may be found, or you might be involved in the search for sources of geothermal energy. You may be employed in exploration and surveying on land and sea, using aerial or satellite photography and electro-magnetic measurements (remote sensing). If you were to specialise in engineering, you might advise on the best locations for the construction of mines, roads, buildings and bridges. As an environmental geologist, you would give advice on contaminated sites and sites used for waste disposal. You might also advise on the effects of past activities, such as subsidence resulting from earlier mining, or on ongoing processes such as coastal erosion.

pportunities for training

  To pursue a professional career, you would need an MSc or MGeol degree in geology or geoscience. Most students follow a broadly based course, although you could concentrate on a particular aspect such as environmental geology or geophysics. Fieldwork plays a vital part in most courses and you should be prepared to spend time out of doors to undertake group expeditions lasting from a few days to one or two weeks. Increasingly, students wishing to become geoscientists go on to take a postgraduate qualification, such as a PhD, concentrating on a particular area of interest to employers (e.g. petroleum geology, geophysics or hydrogeology). The Geological Society runs an accreditation scheme for geoscience degrees and successful completion of an accredited course can be the first stage of becoming a chartered geologist (CGeol).

equirements for entry

  For degree entry, you would normally need two or three A level/Advanced Higher, three or four Higher or equivalent qualifications. Science and technological subjects, especially chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and engineering, are preferred and a foreign language can be useful.

ind of person

  You would need good spatial awareness and practical skills to use sophisticated instruments and you would have to possess good IT skills. You would sometimes work alone and sometimes as part of a team; you would need to be fit and healthy, since you may be working in physically challenging environments anywhere in the world. Any colour blindness could be a serious problem. Good communication skills would be essential for writing reports, making presentations and participating in discussion with professional colleagues.

road outlook for the future

  Many geology graduates enter professions directly related to their degree. Popular roles include exploration and production, water supply, environmental engineering and geological surveying. Typical employers include the oil, gas and petroleum sector and environmental consultancies and civil engineering companies. Overseas work can be a common feature, while some experienced professionals may also become self-employed consultants.
  Statistics collected from recent geology graduates show that just over half of those surveyed were in full-time paid work six months after graduation. The majority of these were employed as scientific research, analysis and development professionals (26%) with a further 15% in engineering and 13% employed as other professionals and in associate professional and technical occupations.
  A high percentage of geology graduates choose to undertake full- or part-time further study. The majority opt for a vocational MSc such as Petroleum Geology, Engineering Geology or Geochemistry whilst others choose the PhD route.

elated occupations

  You might also consider: engineering geologist, marine biologist/marine scientist, geochemist, geophysicist, hydrogeologist, land/geomatics surveyor, surveyor (general practice), energy engineer, petroleum engineer, civil engineer, structural engineer, mining engineer, hydrographic surveyor or cartographer.

mpact on lifestyle

  Most professional geologists spend at least part of their working career doing fieldwork, sometimes in remote areas in difficult conditions. You could be land-based, in mining operations or take part in underwater drilling operations. Temperatures can be extremely high in desert areas in the day and very low at night. In locations like Alaska you would experience sub-zero conditions and very short daylight hours. You would need a wide range of safety equipment and protective clothing to cope with each situation.

arnings potential

  Typical starting salaries range from £28,000 to £35,000, depending on the level of qualification on entry. Earnings usually increase significantly following completion of necessary training. At senior level, salaries are rarely less than £50,000 and may climb to more than £80,000 to £130,000 plus benefits. Salaries vary considerably by sector, employer's business and location, and level of qualification. Positions based offshore or in risky or remote locations are often compensated in their salary. The highest salaries are in major oil companies, but some consultancies pay well too.

urther information/valuable websites

  British Geological Survey
  Geological Society
  Geologists' Association
  Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain
  Institute of Geologists of Ireland