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Average Salary and Career Outlook for Geologists

Earning a degree in geology allows you to study the composition, processes, and history of the Earth, preparing you for a wide number of jobs within this field. But as a geoscientist, just how much money can you expect to make? Additionally, is there even a good outlook for geologists? These are valid questions to ask if you want to ensure you’re entering a field where you can provide well for your family. The field is loaded with incredibly passionate individuals, so it’s very important to know how to distinguish yourself before pursuing a job in Geology. Here’s what you need to know about working as a geologist:

Geologist Employment

As of 2008, there were about 33,600 geoscience jobs in the United States, and since then, this field has grown even larger. Geologists work in a number of roles, include as engineers, particularly in the oil/gas extraction industry, and as researchers in this field. You can specialize in fields such as mineralogy, sedimentology, paleontology, stratigraphy, glacial geology, and geochemistry. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks in terms of jobs, so understanding the current state industries can be very beneficial. For example, specializing in geochemistry could open up lucrative jobs with oil companies to help with extraction methods from shale. Additionally, understanding mineralogy can lead to jobs in hydraulic fracturing, a growing practice.

Geologist Job Outlook

Because so many companies are investing in clean energy, workers in scientific fields are in high demand, so an education as a geologist makes sense! This field is growing faster than average, according to reports by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, with an expected growth of 18 percent between 2008 and 2018. In this field, most of the job openings will be for workers with master’s degrees, rather than bachelor’s degree or even graduates from PhD programs. Additionally, with fossil fuels rapidly running out, geologists are quickly being hired to utilize what resources are left and to help make extraction and usage more efficient.

Geologist Salaries

The geoscience field can be extremely lucrative, with an average annual salary of $93,380 as of 2010. So, as you can imagine, a six-figure salary in this field is a definite potential. As if the case with most fields, you can earn more working in some locations than in others. As you can see, the top-paying jobs for geologists are located in some areas of America that are the most dense with oil reserves. Look through this list and see if there are any places that are appealing to more to:

State Total Employment Bottom 25% Median Salary Top 75%
Alabama 50 $39,140 $55,040 $72,960
Alaska 250 $43,630 $52,900 $69,400
Arizona 120 $30,940 $36,790 $46,850
California 1,690 $35,650 $51,420 $73,390
Colorado 600 $44,090 $56,460 $73,630
Connecticut $37,670 $52,540 $63,310
Florida 70 $28,690 $36,330 $48,780
Georgia 50 $49,150 $55,240 $62,130
Hawaii $36,770 $45,050 $57,020
Idaho $34,220 $55,270 $76,260
Illinois 100 $29,100 $38,390 $57,650
Indiana $39,410 $63,410 $85,580
Kansas 50 $42,290 $48,690 $58,210
Kentucky 60 $41,090 $46,410 $54,580
Louisiana 930 $40,500 $63,210 $84,680
Maryland 110 $46,720 $56,840 $77,010
Michigan 170 $29,360 $37,080 $48,900
Mississippi 300 $39,490 $48,370 $72,620
Missouri $34,690 $47,800 $76,430
Montana 180 $37,540 $51,410 $56,610
Nevada 110 $25,950 $35,360 $53,820
New Jersey 100 $40,800 $51,230 $59,620
New Mexico 130 $37,820 $49,660 $70,960
New York 150 $37,830 $44,190 $60,430
North Dakota 120 $39,930 $48,130 $73,130
Ohio 200 $37,310 $52,070 $69,780
Oklahoma 1,260 $45,730 $59,120 $80,820
Pennsylvania 330 $37,830 $47,140 $61,980
South Carolina 40 $32,190 $37,090 $45,880
Tennessee 130 $37,260 $49,610 $68,740
Texas 6,310 $35,520 $56,060 $82,630
Utah 150 $40,120 $53,490 $66,840
Washington 80 $30,100 $36,390 $43,960
West Virginia 240 $30,650 $46,810 $66,870
Wyoming 150 $43,230 $53,740 $71,830

Don’t want to live in a city? Some non-metropolitan areas with high-paying jobs for geologists include rural areas in Northwestern Texas, Southwest Mississippi, the North Coast of California, Southwestern Alaska, and rural Nevada. Keep in mind that the most lucrative jobs combine a high-paying position with a low cost of living, so one of the more rural areas might make more sense for your family, or at least your wallet. Of course, while there may be slight differences if you want to work elsewhere, there are exceptions, of course. Additionally, living in an area you want to live in can be worth tens of thousands of dollars to people, so it might be a better decision to seek out somewhere you would want to work and prove to them you deserve a competitive salary. Large cities are often where these energy companies are based, so you can secure a great advisory position if you would prefer to stay out of the field.

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