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Geological & Earth Sciences Major

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Geological & Earth Sciences

1,878 Master's Degrees Annually
810 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#76 in Popularity (Master's)
$101,890 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Geological & Earth Sciences Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many geological and earth sciences graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 1,878
Doctor’s Degree 810
Graduate Certificate 68

What Geological & Earth Sciences Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to geology and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Geology Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Skills for Geology Majors

When studying geology, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Geology Majors

Geology majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Geological & Earth Sciences Major?

People with a geology degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors 9.9% $90,860
Chemistry Professors 9.9% $79,550
Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers 14.1% $91,130
Hydrologists 10.4% $79,370
Natural Sciences Managers 9.9% $123,860
Water Resource Specialists 9.9% $123,860

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Geological & Earth Sciences?

1,878 Master's Degrees Annually
44% Percent Women
17% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This major tends to be male dominated. About 56% of recent graduates are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of geology majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Geology Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 61
Black or African American 42
Hispanic or Latino 136
White 1,263
International Students 245
Other Races/Ethnicities 131

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Geology, too. About 13.0% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Nigeria
  • Canada

How Much Do Geological & Earth Sciences Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that geological and earth sciences students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree made a median starting salary of $62,900 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $59,000 (25th percentile) and $66,300 (75th percentile).

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It’s important to note that just because the people reporting these salaries have a degree in geology, it does not mean that they are working in a job related to their degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $92,360 to $107,800 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to geology. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Geological & Earth Sciences Major  ( 92360 to 107800 )
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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Some degrees associated with geology may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for geology careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Some College Courses 0.1%
Bachelor’s Degree 28.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 5.2%
Master’s Degree 37.1%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.3%
Doctoral Degree 17.0%
Post-Doctoral Training 11.9%

Online Geological & Earth Sciences Programs

In 2018-2019, 578 schools offered a geology program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 15 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 6 1
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 114 2
Bachelor’s Degree 31 4
Post-Baccalaureate 15 0
Master’s Degree 292 5
Post-Master’s 9 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 196 2
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Geological & Earth Sciences Worth It?

The median salary for a geology grad is $101,890 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 155% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,239,800 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to geology.

Major Number of Grads
Chemistry 22,156
Physics 13,927
General Physical Sciences 4,527
Astronomy & Astrophysics 1,168
Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology 1,072
Materials Sciences 681
Other Physical Science 503

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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