students looking into the distance

Careers in the Geosciences

You've made a great choice of the geosciences as your major. It's likely you have the following attributes:

  • you're inherently curious about how the Earth works
  • you like to be outdoors, especially in wild places
  • you want to study a hard science with quantitative rigor
  • you like to learn in a collaborative environment with your fellow students, rather than a competitive one
  • you want to have a challenging career that impacts society
A Geology graduate student works on her research in the 1000 ton press lab. photo ©Paul Estabrook

This last criterion is the focus of this website. You should start thinking about a career in the geosciences during your sophomore year, or your first year at UC Davis after transferring. The reason is that you'll want to start building your resume with the right mix of coursework, research, and internships to set yourself up for your next step after graduation. There's much more on these topics below, but let’s take a brief look at the job market for geoscientists first

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there were a total of >324,000 geoscience jobs in 2014, with the number expected to rise by 10% by 2024. Considering attrition by retirements relative to the number of new geoscientists coming out of U.S. universities, the Bureau expects a deficit of about 90,000 geoscientists by 2024. You may very well be getting your degree on the cusp of a boom in the need for geoscientists.

Geologist in Antarctica, arms outstretched in joy.

Forbes magazine lists Geology majors as the 7th most valuable college major (April 2013) – "The College Majors That Are Worth It." And in 2015, Forbes reported that "an impressive 95% of geologists out of 220,000 polled said they were satisfied with their major, the highest of any other sampled" – "Geology Students Are The Happiest On College Campus Study Finds." So you’ve made a good decision in choosing the major – what can you do to prepare for starting a career after your time at UC Davis is over? Are you thinking about graduate school? Or would you prefer to work, either in private industry or with a government agency or maybe in science education? Are you interested in an internship or in doing research with a faculty member? The sections below will help you answer some of those questions.