Author Topic: Tell me about your Geology careers!  (Read 5135 times)

Cwadda

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Tell me about your Geology careers!
« on: February 07, 2015, 04:52:35 PM »
Hi Mustachians,

I've noticed a fair number of people in this community in the geoscience field. Last summer I was asking environment scientists and geologists what to do for my education. I'm happy to say I'm en route to getting a B.S. double major Environment Science and Geoscience, all of which will happen in one year! Immediately after that, I will be getting an M.S. in Geoscience or some related environmental discipline, (although I'm leaning towards geology). Now I want to ask some geology folks what their career experiences have been like.

What is your education?
What are good areas of the geoscience discipline to get into?
Where do you live/work?
Do you enjoy your job? What is your favorite part about your job? Your least favorite?
Are you content with your "home life" as a geologist?
Anything else you might want to share.

Thanks!!!

coffeehound

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2015, 07:48:32 PM »
I wish I'd gone into the Geosciences........ didn't, but here's a helpful link to the largest Geosciences dept. in California - it has info on where their graduates work, etc.  http://geology.fullerton.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=158&Itemid=176


frugaldrummer

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2015, 10:02:22 PM »
All I know about geology is that an old friend of mine made a good career in hydrogeology, looking at groundwater pollution. I imagine that might be a growing field now what with fracking etc

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2015, 10:16:57 PM »
What is your education?
I have a B.Sc. Geology, with a minor in Geophysics and a Concentration in Petroleum.

What are good areas of the geoscience discipline to get into?
I work in oil and gas exploration.

Where do you live/work?
I live in Alberta, and work all over Western Canada.

Do you enjoy your job? What is your favorite part about your job? Your least favourite?
I really enjoy my job.  I work as a wellsite geologist, so I work on drilling rigs, looking at drill cuttings, managing gas sensor equipment, and directing the drilling department, as far as where to drill.

Are you content with your "home life" as a geologist?
Well, I work away from home, sometimes for weeks or months at a time, but I also get a lot of time off (most summers, and I usually get about a week off at a time in the winter).  It's hard towards the end of the winter, when I've been mostly away for 5-6 months, but the time off (and $$$) makes it worth it.

Anything else you might want to share.
It's not an easy job sometimes, and recently with things slowing down with drilling, I have been working night shift again, instead of day shift (supervisor) but it all comes out in the wash, so to speak.  I won't be doing this job for a lot longer, as we are looking to start a family in the next year or so, but I've had a blast.  I like working outside, and I get to see a lot of beautiful places around the country, which is awesome. 

sol

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2015, 11:03:55 PM »
What is your education?
B.S. Geology, Ph.D. Geosciences

What are good areas of the geoscience discipline to get into?
"Good" is a relative term.  Carbon extraction geology typically pays better bus is very cyclical and so has less job security.  Environmental geology is usually more rewarding but the pay is terrible.   

Where do you live/work?
Washington state.

Do you enjoy your job? What is your favorite part about your job? Your least favorite?
I work for the federal government.  I like the science.  I like the field work.  I like going to science meetings.  I hate the stupid administrative meetings, and the time cards, and the travel authorizations, and the conference permits, and the credit card statements.  Being a fed puts you under a LOT of constraints that normal workers don't have to deal with. 

Are you content with your "home life" as a geologist?
I am now that I've achieved some level of financial security and no longer feel compelled to donate my evenings and weekends to an employer that does not value my contributions.

Anything else you might want to share.
I took a government job rather than an academic one because I wanted to do work that actually helped people.  Academic positions tend to focus on interesting but abstract problems, industry positions tend to focus on maximizing profits at the expense of your soul, and government positions tend to focus on solving very big problems very inefficiently.  Take your pick.

Recently, much of my research has been related to climate change trends and I hate it.  I feel like I'm counting the deck chairs on the Titanic.  This is a question to which we already know the big picture answer, and documenting the details feels like a waste of time when there are other, more immediate problems with solutions that can actually make a difference in people's lives. 
« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 09:36:49 AM by sol »

zenyata

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2015, 12:36:36 AM »
I'm pushing about 20 years of working in geology - B.S. Geology, M.S Hydrogeology - worked for about 1.5 years with USGS Water Resources in New Mexico between undergrad & grad school - I had the worst timing in that the USGS had an across the board hiring freeze at the end of my paid internship there so I could not be brought on as permanent - ultimately probably a good thing because it forced my hand as far as going to grad school...

I'm biased toward hydro as a good discipline to get into.  The need for water isn't going anywhere and I think you can basically find demand for hydrogeologists most anywhere on the planet (I currently work in New York state - which has no shortage of water (i.e. SNOW !  haha) but the distribution of it and protection / remediation after a long history of abuse are not issues that are going away).

Unfortunately in consulting there is an endless push in larger companies like the one I work for to take technical people and basically force them into project management roles.  My technical expertise coming out of grad school was groundwater modeling but I spend more time now dealing with invoices and project budgets and subcontractors than most any technical matters.  That said though, I do get to work on some really interesting sites and projects and I've worked hard at protecting just enough of a niche for myself in field work that I still get to go out a fair bit...  And I still get pretty excited by extended field events in other areas outside of where my home / office are located - it still feels like I'm going on an adventure and that I've figured out some angle almost like I'm getting away with something for doing this and actually getting paid for it !

As a summary of how I feel about my job - my typical response to people who ask is that half the time I'm muttering to myself "they don't pay me enough to do this stuff !"  and the other half of the time I'm saying "I can't believe I get paid to do this stuff !"

Overall I think it's a really good field and you can make a fine career out of it - so if you are interested in it - definitely go for it.  I've often thought - in sort of a six degrees of separation type thing - the majority of cool places I've been in the world, the very diverse set of activities I've done (both professionally and recreationally), and a whole bunch of really neat people I've met all trace back to my involvement in geology.  It has opened a ton of doors that I can't see many other fields being able to do...

Cwadda

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2015, 11:58:37 AM »
I'm pushing about 20 years of working in geology - B.S. Geology, M.S Hydrogeology - worked for about 1.5 years with USGS Water Resources in New Mexico between undergrad & grad school - I had the worst timing in that the USGS had an across the board hiring freeze at the end of my paid internship there so I could not be brought on as permanent - ultimately probably a good thing because it forced my hand as far as going to grad school...

I'm biased toward hydro as a good discipline to get into.  The need for water isn't going anywhere and I think you can basically find demand for hydrogeologists most anywhere on the planet (I currently work in New York state - which has no shortage of water (i.e. SNOW !  haha) but the distribution of it and protection / remediation after a long history of abuse are not issues that are going away).

Unfortunately in consulting there is an endless push in larger companies like the one I work for to take technical people and basically force them into project management roles.  My technical expertise coming out of grad school was groundwater modeling but I spend more time now dealing with invoices and project budgets and subcontractors than most any technical matters.  That said though, I do get to work on some really interesting sites and projects and I've worked hard at protecting just enough of a niche for myself in field work that I still get to go out a fair bit...  And I still get pretty excited by extended field events in other areas outside of where my home / office are located - it still feels like I'm going on an adventure and that I've figured out some angle almost like I'm getting away with something for doing this and actually getting paid for it !

As a summary of how I feel about my job - my typical response to people who ask is that half the time I'm muttering to myself "they don't pay me enough to do this stuff !"  and the other half of the time I'm saying "I can't believe I get paid to do this stuff !"

Overall I think it's a really good field and you can make a fine career out of it - so if you are interested in it - definitely go for it.  I've often thought - in sort of a six degrees of separation type thing - the majority of cool places I've been in the world, the very diverse set of activities I've done (both professionally and recreationally), and a whole bunch of really neat people I've met all trace back to my involvement in geology.  It has opened a ton of doors that I can't see many other fields being able to do...

I'm going to ask some folks at my university about hydrogeology. I know we have an excellent groundwater program and it's something worth looking into. Is it anymore difficult to get into an MS Hydrogeology program than an MS Geology one?

Right now I'm involved with stable isotope geochemistry research and have a grant to do a lot of work over the summer. Planning on getting an undergrad thesis out of this and hopefully that'll help with competing for graduate school.

To everyone else, thanks for the responses. Very helpful.

Glenstache

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2015, 12:14:18 PM »
BS, MS, PhD in Geology with specialization in structural geology and then igneous petrology. After school,  I went into consulting and have been at the same company for a decade. I lucked into getting hired by a great local company where I get to work with great people (both as people and technically), and in a work environment that honestly cares about quality of life and making sure everyone enjoys their work and has a reasonable work-life balance. I do water resource and environmental consulting, though 90% of my time is spent on contaminated site work ranging from small characterization efforts (Phase I/II) up through evaluation and cleanup of major port facilities. I get a lot of diversity in my day to day work and feel that over time I've been able to help clean up some legacy issues and make things at least a little bit better. From what I've seen of friends and colleagues in the bigger companies, there is much more pigeonholing, more structured career tracks (such as getting pushed up into management), and focus on the bottom line- in some cases at the expense of staff and clients. I've also collaborated with many great people at those bigger companies, so please don't take it as a reflection on them... mostly the bean counters in the home office in a different state.

Yes, doing a research senior thesis will help you get into grad school. Use it as an excuse to talk to potential MS advisers at meetings. If they want you in, then the admissions process quickly gets easier, just like getting a job.

A soild background in hydrogeology and contaminant F&T will be marketable. If you are willing to put in some extra effort, you will be paid more to do the same work as an engineer. 

RumbleKittie

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2015, 12:29:49 PM »
MS in geoscience and work as a geophysicist in the oil industry. The pay is attractive in the oil industry, but job stability seems to be a bit volatile. I work in Texas and really enjoy my job. There's a lot of creative freedom to apply science to problems with tangible results that I find rewarding. I have a pretty nice home/life balance, but I'm not sure how much of that is industry standard and how much of it is due to company culture.

gaja

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2015, 01:00:17 PM »
I took a government job rather than an academic one because I wanted to do work that actually helped people.  Academic positions tend to focus on interesting but abstract problems, industry positions tend to focus on maximizing profits at the expense of your soul, and government positions tend to focus on solving very big problems very inefficiently.  Take your pick.

Recently, much of my research has been related to climate change trends and I hate it.  I feel like I'm counting the deck chairs on the Titanic.  This is a question to which we already know the big picture answer, and documenting the details feels like a waste of time when there are other, more immediate problems with solutions that can actually make a difference in people's lives.

I do similar work at a regional level, and love it. I hear much of the same from collegues on the different administrative levels: on the national level things get vague, you can't get deep into the projects or act on your own initiative. On the local level, the economy is very tight, and you have to care too much about the details. On the regional level, it's just the right mix of details and overview. The same goes for some of the larger cities.

As to documenting climate change: I got this mandate from "my" politicians: "The administration should focus the resources on projects that they know have a positive effect on the environment, and that they know are efficient methods to reduce climate gas emissions. They should not spend much money or time on consultant reports or calculating climate gas emissions".

M.S. in Geobiology.

libertarian4321

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2015, 05:26:58 AM »
A lot of Geology folks end up doing environmental work, especially hydros.

I work with a lot of them in my field (environmental engineer).


Cwadda

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Re: Tell me about your Geology careers!
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2015, 01:17:36 PM »
Update:

I've been thinking more about hydro, although the head of the program at my university may be retiring very soon. Do you have to have advanced math to go into that program? The whole calc sequence?

 

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