Getting started

Where do you want to go?

The private, for-profit sector is comprised of so many different industries and overlapping fields that it can be difficult to chart a straightforward path to one occupation. However, this complexity can provide you with many options for employment suited to your skills and interests! 

A good way to narrow down your options is to write down your strengths and your priorities. What are you best at? What part of geoscience do you most enjoy? Do you envision yourself working indoors or outdoors? Are you willing to travel or move to another location? 

A preliminary search of industry jobs can give you a good idea of the preferred qualifications of applicants and job responsibilities. Use key words to search job boards, then compare jobs against your own list of criteria. Search by terms that describe your skills or interests ("remote sensing", "water quality", "Python") to find a variety of positions; searching by job titles is often difficult because different industries and employers use different titles. 

Developing missing skills

Strengthen your credentials

In your preliminary search of jobs, did you notice that you were missing one or two skills that would make you a stronger candidate for a job you'd like? 

Field camps, internships, research experiences, or open source online classes are opportunities to build new skills and bolster your resume with experience. Options for continuing education include the Geoscience Online Learning InitiativeMassive Open Online Courses, and Esri Academy E-Learning. MIT OpenCourseWare also offers a range of undergraduate and graduate level courses in the Earth Sciences -- filter science courses by topic, sub-topic, and specialty using the Course Finder.  

For entry level jobs, an undergraduate degree is typically sufficient, though some jobs may require further certification, training, or experience. Visit the Career Pathways page to learn more about degree levels, professional licensure and certifications


Use your connections

You can find lots of online information about networking and it's one of the most useful tools available to job seekers. You may already have a network available to you through your department and university alumni, an internship experience, or your own LinkedIn account. If you haven't been thinking about networking, it's never too early to begin making connections. University career fairs are a great place to meet industry representatives, or you can ask around your department to see where recent graduates are working, join a local or student chapter of a professional society, or connect with a geoscientist on the Ask an Expert page. 

For more on networking, check out the American Association of Petroleum Geologists webinars, some tips from the American Geosciences Institute, and a GSA GeoCareers video.


Secure a job

Once you have identified your skills, narrowed down key words for searching job boards, and leveraged your network to find opportunities, it's time to apply. Get started with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Career Learning Center and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology Career Resources, which provide advice about applying and interviewing for geoscience positions. You can also find support through your department, your campus career center, or your personal network.

  • GROW is a collection of career resources for undergraduate and graduate students in the geosciences, intended to help students identify and pursue career paths beyond academia.
  • This project was supported by the National Science Foundation (Award #1911527) and our many contributors who generously volunteered their time and knowledge to assist our team.

  • Any opinions, findings, and recommendations expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation nor of contributor employers.
  • We welcome feedback from the geoscience community. Please contact us with your suggestions, including new career resources and Ask an Expert contacts.
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