Geoscientists study the structure of the Earth and how it was formed over time.

What does a geoscientist do?

Geoscientists use a range of investigation methods in their work, including drilling, seismic surveying, satellite and aerial imagery, and electromagnetic measurement. They use their knowledge and expertise in a number of ways, for example:

  • assessing the ground for building suitability on engineering projects, such as dam or tunnel building
  • advising on suitable sites for landfill or storage of nuclear waste
  • searching for energy resources and minerals, such as gas and oil
  • designing projects to search for new water supplies
  • studying volcanic and seismic activity to develop early-warning systems for communities living close to earthquake zones
Geoscience is a broad subject that includes many sub-sectors that may involve specialising in an area such as geophysics, environmental geology, natural hazards, energy resources, or mining and extraction.

What do I need to do to become a geoscientist?

To work as a professional geoscientist you will need a degree in a relevant subject. Courses often combine theory with fieldwork and practical training. Degree subjects include:

  • geology
  • geoscience
  • Earth science
It is becoming more common for geoscience new entrants to already hold or be working towards postgraduate qualifications, such as an MSc or PhD.

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Physical fitness
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Technical ability

Academic route

  • Five GCSEs (A-C), including maths, English, and science
  • Three A levels, preferably in physics, chemistry, biology, geology, or a mathematical subject

Related subjects

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Maths
  • Physics

Essential qualifications

  • A degree in a relevant subject

Desirable qualifications

  • MSc
  • PhD

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

The oil and gas industry is the main employer of geoscientists at all levels. Demand may vary and could depend on the discovery of new fossil-fuel reserves, such as shale gas, obtained through hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’.

Two of the largest employers of geoscientists in the UK are the British Geological Survey, which is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and the Environment Agency.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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